Year one for Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings is officially in the bag and I think it left everybody, including Cousins with mixed feelings.
Were there some things that could have been better? Sure, but there was also a lot that could have been worse. And in that, was it really all Kirk's fault?
He's been a flawed quarterback in his past which brings up the haters who will say that Kirk is not a good quarterback. That remains debatable by both sides. What is a little more quantitative though is that Kirk's year didn't exactly trend in the right direction as it wore on.
According to the latest quarterback rankings from ProFootballFocus.com, Kirk Cousins finished the year as the 14th best rated quarterback in the league. That's slightly above average and not exactly what Vikings fans expected when the team forked over $84 million guaranteed. But it's the breakdown that PFF provided that was interesting to me.
Here's what it read...
"Cousins lived and died by his play under pressure. Only Watson finished the year with more pressured dropbacks than Cousins, and though the Minnesota man started the season strong from a pressured pocket, he regressed toward the mean in the latter half of the season. In Weeks 1-9, Cousins ranked third in passer rating from a pressured pocket (91.5) but dropped to 20th (69.5) in Weeks 10-17."
That's to say that Cousins got worse as the year went on, but what else changed over that period of time?
John DeFilippo was the OC for all of those games but the final three and at that point blaming anything on Stefanski is a bit of a farce. Still, there was a bit of a power struggle over the final three games of Flip's tenure that led to stagnant and predictable offensive play calls. Remember back to the Patriots and Seahawks games where the opposition flat out said they knew what the Vikings were doing on offense.
Dalvin Cook got healthier as the season waned and more of the focus was put on running the ball, but shouldn't that open up the throwing lanes and opportunities for a quarterback? Especially considering that Cook is utilized heavily in the passing game, that should help a quarterback under duress.
That last part there might be the key, "under duress". Kirk was under pressure all season long, but it was a different kind of pressure towards the end of the season, like nowhere to go, no way out kind of pressure. The Vikings offensive line ranked towards the bottom of the league all season long according to PFF and seemingly the play of your middle line with Remmers, Elflein and Compton got significantly worse leading to the stats highlighted in the post above.
In Weeks 1-9, Cousins ranked third in passer rating from a pressured pocket (91.5) but dropped to 20th (69.5) in Weeks 10-17.
That's not going to help an offenses success rate, or a quarterbacks rating.