Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins’s play through the first four games of this season has resembled his center’s pants after a few snaps. His biggest problem is that he struggles to throw a deep, accurate ball. Both the defense and his own receivers know it.
After Minnesota’s 16-6 loss to the Bears on Sunday, Vikings WR Adam Thielen tried to diagnose his team’s issues on offense without coming right out and saying that his terrible QB is the main problem.
“At some point, you’re not going to be able to run the ball for 180 yards, even with the best running back in the NFL,” Thielen said at his locker. “And that’s when you have to be able to throw the ball, you have to be able to make plays, you have to be able to hit the deep balls. You have to do that because otherwise it’s too easy for teams to just tee up and rush the quarterback. We have to be able to run the ball and pass the ball.”
There is a specific person on the Vikings whose job is to hit the deep ball. Here he is trying to do so:
And here’s how Thielen, who finished the game with two catches for six yards, felt about that specific person’s play:
Fellow receiver Stefon Diggs, who did a bit better with a stat-padded seven catches for 108 yards, avoided saying anything bad about Cousins by not saying anything at all. He left the locker room in full pads without speaking to media. Diggs was more open with his feelings during the game. From Chad Graff of The Athletic:
Finally, it boiled over. The fourth quarter had started, the Vikings still hadn’t scored, and now Kirk Cousins was throwing a checkdown on third and a mile. On the sideline, Diggs started yelling. Offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski was only a few feet away, but it wasn’t clear whether Diggs was directing his frustration at him or simply the general struggles of the day. He eventually stood alone on the sideline. Thielen, meanwhile, took a seat alone on the bench opposite Cousins and the offensive line.
The Vikings kept trying to hammer the ball with running back Dalvin Cook, who rushed 14 times for 35 total yards, but it wasn’t working against the Bears’ formidable defense. For a balanced, competent offense, that would suggest trying other ways to move down the field, but Cousins can’t do that, and nobody seems to respect his arm or character in general. Perhaps the Vikings can bring back the good times and orchestrate a trade for Case Keenum. The Skins are just about done with him anyway.