StaTuesday: Vikings' Cousins lighting it up after rough start

BY Ryan Lund • October 22, 2019

The Kirk Cousins narrative hit rock bottom a few weeks back.

The Minnesota Vikings' $84 million quarterback was one of the league's least-productive passers through the first month of the season.

Cousins managed just 735 passing yards through four games, while head coach Mike Zimmer leaned heavily on the run. The Vikings attempted just 99 passes through their first four games en route to a 2-2 start. Only the Jets and 49ers attempted fewer passes -- both had a Week 4 bye -- through four weeks.

With Cousins issuing public apologies and their receivers in open revolt, the Vikings finally turned the passing game loose in Week 5.

Cousins threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns -- his first game of the season with 300-plus yards or multiple touchdowns -- in a 28-10 win over the New York Giants.

And while it's easy to write a line like that off as the product of a weak matchup -- the Giants, briefly relevant after rookie quarterback Daniel Jones broke out in Week 3, have settled back into mediocrity -- Cousins has been lighting it up ever since. He and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, who did it earlier this year, are the only quarterbacks ever to maintain a passer rating of 130 or better and post 300-plus passing yards in three straight games.

He followed that performance up with wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions, throwing for 300-plus yards and four touchdowns in each. It's the first time Cousins has thrown four touchdowns in back-to-back games since the 2015 season and the first time a Vikings quarterback has done it since 2004.

For all his struggles to start the season, Cousins has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league over his past three games.

Week Opp. Pass Yards TD Comp% Yards/Attempt Rate
5 at NYG 306 2 81.48 11.33 138.6
6 vs. PHI 333 4 75.86 11.48 138.4
7 at DET 337 4 70.59 9.91 141.4
Total (NFL Rank) N/A 976 (3rd) 10 (1st) 75.56 (3rd) 10.84 (1st) 142.6 (1st)

Minnesota's pass protection has also improved. Cousins has been sacked just four times over their last three games and wasn't sacked in Week 7. He's had 3.05 seconds to throw on average, tops in the league so far this season per NFL Next Gen Stats, and has made the most of that extra time.

The Vikings are undefeated over that stretch, with 1-6 Washington up next.

Things get a little more interesting after that.

Minnesota gets the Kansas Chiefs on the road in Week 9 -- they could be without Mahomes -- followed by the Dallas Cowboys on the road and the Denver Broncos at home before their Week 12 bye.

If Cousins' production holds up, the Vikings should roll into their bye week with a few more wins.

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NFC Northern Division NFC Northern Division
National Football Conference National Football Conference

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