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Kirk Cousins, Vikings, Falcons

Editorials

Kirk Cousins: The Evolution of the Minnesota Vikings QB

In 2012, the Washington Redskins figured they had their QB of the future when they selected Robert Griffin with the 2nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. However, little did they know, their real steal would come in the 5th round when they selected QB Kirk Cousins from Michigan State University with the 102nd overall pick in the 5th round.

Early on, Cousins had no choice but to sit and watch as Griffin led the Redskins to the playoffs his rookie season. After Griffin’s coming out party, Griffin would become a permanent fixture on the bench due to injuries and then inconsistency.

In his first three seasons, Kirk Cousins would only play in 14 games while starting just nine. The situation in Washington was looking bleak but things were about to change and Cousins was set to make a case that he deserved more than Griffin’s place.

In 2015, Cousins began the season as the official leader of the Redskins. In 16 starts, Cousins would pass for 4166 yards and 29 touchdowns while throwing 11 interceptions. As for his accuracy, Cousins would finish the year with a completion percentage of 69.8. In his first season, much like Griffin’s, he led the Skins to the playoffs where they would lose in the first round but Cousins was just getting warmed up.

The following campaign, Cousins proved that he was no one-year wonder as he put up similar numbers with 4917 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. To prove that his accuracy was no fluke, Cousins managed to stay with the top QB’s by completing 67.0 percent of his passes. Even with those stats, Cousins and the Redskinds finished with an 8-7-1 record and could not get past the first round again.  Two years in, two playoffs appearances and a Pro Bowl nod was all the proof needed that the Skins made the right choice going with Cousins.

Then came the first of heavy straws placed on his back that led to the major damage to his Redskins’ tenure. In 2016, the Skins placed the transition tag on Cousins. Now, that lasted only two days as a new one-year deal was set in place with a promise of a long-term deal later down the road. While being paid like a top-tier QB, Cousins still wasn’t viewed as a leader.

Entering the 2017 season, Cousins was ready to roll. As a starter, he still had under his belt two playoff seasons. Cousins was gaining national attention for his dramatics on the field. Now, all the Redskins had to do was surround him with talent and open up their checkbooks and pay their franchise QB.

That year, Cousins would again put the pressure on the Redskins for a deal. He finished the campaign with 4093 yards and 27 touchdowns. While it was his third straight season of 23+ TD passes, it was also the third straight year his interception total went up. But still, Cousins was doing what he could with what he had. The Skins would finish the season 7-9 and then the real decisions had to be made.

Fans of the Washington Redskins were torn. They knew that had a reliable QB, however, something about Cousins just wasn’t adding up. As a started in three full seasons, Cousins missed no games. He was productive, unlike Griffin before him. In terms of wins, Cousins could not get the Redskins past the first round.

With that said and time ticking away, the Redskins hit Kirk Cousin with the Franchise Tag, yet again. Good for Cousins but this wasn’t getting either parties anywhere. What was the issue with just paying your QB? And why did Cousins keep signing away?

As the contract situation continued to grow into one big mess, the Redskins did the unthinkable. During the offseason, instead of inking a new deal with Cousins, the Skins made a trade for QB Alex Smith. With Cousins still on the roster, that all but set up his departure. Luckily for Cousins, the Minnesota Viking were in dire need of a new starting QB and signed him to a mega 3yr-$84M deal.

Kirk Cousins finally got his money, the Redskins figured they had the leader they wanted and everyone walked away happy. Well, at least for half the season. In Minnesota, Cousins is still trying to quiet his critics, while the Redskins have seen a revolving door at the primary position since Cousins left and Smith went down with an injury.

The career of Kirk Cousins is still ongoing. At the age of 31, Cousins is still going strong and can put a lot of doubters to shame with another strong showing. So far this season, he’s doing just that. He has passed for over 2400 yards and thrown 18 touchdowns with only three interceptions heading into Week 11. He may struggle, but at the end of the day, Cousins’ numbers are up there with some of the NFL’s best. How’s that for a 5th round pick?