Battle of the Backup QBs, Cowboys top Vikings on Sunday Night Football 20-16 ;-)
QB Dak Prescott was held out due to a calf injury, so naturally backup QB Cooper Rush made his first career start and played well enough to win in front of America on Sunday Night Football. For the Vikings and its fans, it was just another frustrating and inconsistent game. Minnesota's offense started out hot, driving right down the field with authority and capping it off with a touchdown reception by Adam Thielen to take an early 7-0 lead, just like we did against the Browns. Unfortunately that was it. The one aspect of Sunday night's game that I mentioned in the preview that I was worried about due to Cousins' history was the fact that the "Terrible Trifecta" was going to be in full effect... "In his 7+ years as a starter, QB Cousins has not particularly played well in Primetime Games, against teams with winning records (our 3 wins so far are against teams that have losing records - Seahawks, Lions, Panthers; our 3 losses so far are against teams with winnings records - Bengals, Cardinals, Browns...so QB Cousins is staying consistent lol), and since he has come to MN he has lost most games when the opposing team has started a backup QB which is super weird (Bears, Cowboys, and Chiefs are just a few I can think of)." The "Terrible Trifecta" was indeed in full effect and sure enough, we found a way to lose 20-16...AT HOME. UNREAL.
Let's go over some stats:
After the Vikings 1st possession, QB Cousins had 8 3rd down throws and he didn't pass beyond the sticks a single time. Cousins is now 2nd to LAST in Air Yards to the Sticks in the NFL.
QB Cooper Rush (325 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) is the 60th highest paid QB this year ($920k). QB Cousins (184 yards, 1 TD) is the 2nd highest paid QB this year ($31 million).
Cousins is now 7-37 against teams with a winning record in his career. Second worst all-time.
Cousins is now 8-17 in Primetime Games in his career, .320 win %. Worst all-time, minimum 25 starts.
A big reason the Vikings didn't move the ball after the first drive was because Cousins kept throwing terrible check down passes when he had receivers running wide open downfield, UNCOVERED AT TIMES, but only managed to throw 3 passes that went 15+ yards in the air. One of these instances he completed overthrew a wide open Justin Jefferson resulting in a huge missed opportunity. Cousins looked completely flustered for the world to see and on the next play, on 3rd down, he overthrew his TE by about 100 feet in the flat and began yelling at his entire team, again for everyone to see. The guy just gets flustered and it clearly affects his team and the rest of the game. He actually made 2 check down passes during the game to his Fullback that resulted in loss of yards both times...just throw the ball into the ground or pass the one of your wide open WRs... Here are a couple of images to help understand what I am talking about:
RANT TIME: This was a real opportunity for Cousins and the Vikings to prove the doubters wrong about where the team stands in the NFL landscape. Cousins does just enough the convince people that he is close to elite based on his year-year statistics, but when you really watch the games and see the final wins and losses, you understand why he is nothing more than average. He has also been under center in his NFL career (54-55-2 career record) long enough to conclude that he is only going to take the Vikings so far. Back in 2018 when the Vikings decided to sign Cousins, I said it would be one of the worst decisions we would make in my lifetime, given the circumstances. We had just come off the MPLS Miracle season and were one game away from the Super Bowl. I said that with Cousins we would become average and proceed to make the playoffs less the 50% of the seasons while he is here and that we would never get back to the NFCCG while he is our QB (people said bringing him in would get us over the hump and into the Super Bowl.. LOL). Fans also now do not like Zimmer anymore and want him gone ever since Cousins has become the QB...hmmmm! The NFL has changed many rules to help support offenses, making the QB position that much more influential to the outcome of games, more than its EVER been. This isn't hard to notice based on the teams that have been thriving over the last 10 years. Like every coach, Mike Zimmer has his faults but he is always going to keep us competitive with solid defensive play. This should allow our offense to not have to do much in order to win. In fact, Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum were able to win 11+ games under Zimmer! Cousins has not been able to and we look to be potentially on track to miss the playoffs 3 of the 4 seasons since he has come to town. Plus, next season his cap hit is going to bump up to $45 million, which is INSANE. Currently in the 2021 season, our defense has allowed the 6th FEWEST points in the NFL and the offense has only scored the 21st most points in the NFL. Also the Offensive Line has the lowest sack rate in Vikings history to this point in the season. I don't know what else the guy needs to thrive... The offense clearly needs to pick it up and that starts with the QB; the LEADER of the team. It just isn't happening yet. In 5 out of 7 games, the Vikings have not scored a TD in the second half...WTF?! We have arguably the best trio of offensive weapons in the NFL (Cook, Thielen, Jefferson) and we can't score points?? And blaming the play calling is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, some play calls are questionable and not the right calls in certain situations, every team runs into that. But our Offensive Coordinator is not calling in plays that calls for Cousins to continually make check down passes for losses when we consistently have open receivers downfield. Give me a break. This is how Cousins has always been in his career and changing to a different Head Coach isn't going to magically turn him into a different player.
We will likely finish the season right around .500, finishing with about 7-9 wins. In the final 10 games we have one of the toughest strength of schedules and I predict we are going to win some of the games, and we are going to lose some of the games. And then when we reach the end of the season, we will either make the playoffs or we won't make the playoffs. Next up, we travel to the Baltimore Ravens as 5.5 point underdogs but I think this is definitely a winnable game, because WHY NOT?! (I am excited to see former Gopher WR Rashod Bateman play against the Vikings!) Go Vikings, lets have a bounce back win!