The Minnesota Vikings paid Kirk Cousins $84 million in guaranteed money to deliver a Super Bowl. So far, the results have been wholly disappointing.
If you’re paying for a designer suit, you don’t expect to crease in the rain.
And if you’re shelling out $84 million guaranteed, you don’t want two interceptions in a primetime divisional showdown.
Yet here we are. Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings. Both annually good. Both equally underwhelming.
The Vikings lost on Sunday Night Football to the Chicago Bears. The defeat was for a multitude of reasons including poor blocking, a non-existent running game and a dropped pick-six by Xavier Rhodes, but blame also falls squarely on Cousins. His pick-six wasn’t dropped by Eddie Jackson, who gleefully ran unmolested for a 27-yard touchdown, ending the competitive phase of the evening.
All told, Cousins finished 30-of-46 for 262 yards (5.7 YPA) and two touchdowns with two picks. That’s more a line you would expect from Case Keenum, who signed in Denver with the Broncos on a two-year deal that costs $48 million less.
Don’t get it twisted. Cousins is better than Keenum, but when you lose primetime games repeatedly — the Vikings are 0-3 in them this season — nobody cares whether you’re the 10th or 20th-best quarterback. Ultimately, you aren’t good enough to get where the fans want to go.
Minnesota has a long, storied history of being good enough to belong in the conversation as the weather turns and the leaves fall, but never quite the gold standard come season’s end. In his three years as a starter with the Redskins, Cousins threw for more than 4,000 yards each time, totaling an average of 27 touchdown passes per year. With Minnesota, he’s on pace to torch both milestones.
But now, with a massive contract and the expectations that follow such money, Cousins isn’t living up to his wage.
After coming within one game of the Super Bowl in their own stadium a season ago, the Vikings are now facing the very real possibility of either missing the playoffs entirely, or being a one-and-done foe as a sixth seed. It’s not what general manager Rick Spielman thought he was signing back in March with Cousins, a man who was supposed to deliver what Fran Tarkenton, Randall Cunningham and Brett Favre couldn’t.
Cousins was supposed to be the missing piece, the final ingredient to a wonderful creation. Instead, Cousins has simply added into the bowl without making much difference at all when it matters most.
Minnesota has another primetime game on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. The loser is reeling and out of the NFC North race. The winner lives on in the fight.
Cousins can’t afford another lackluster performance in a year blotched in them.