Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Kirk Cousins Isn’t Worth A Shit

Photo: Stephen Maturen (Getty)

Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here. Buy his book here.

Before we get into this, I should issue a HOMER ALERT because I am a Vikings fan and because this is a post about Kirk Cousins. As far as I’m concerned, all homerism should be disclosed up front, the same way a SPOILER WARNING must be displayed atop any online review of Angel Has Fallen, in which Angel does indeed fall.

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So… again, Kirk Cousins. Hopefully you were preoccupied with other games during the early slate last week. If you were, you missed the Vikings going down 21-0 to the Packers in a fingersnap during the first quarter. Their prospects improved slightly thereafter. The defense stiffened and didn’t relinquish a single point in the final three quarters. Dalvin Cook busted out for 154 yards on the ground. The Vikings forced the Packers to fumble three times and then recovered two of them. There was every chance for Minnesota to close the deficit, much in the same way they did nearly a year earlier to the day, when they stormed back from 20-6 down in the fourth quarter at Lambeau to force a tie in a game they would have—and should have—won had rookie Daniel Carlson not shanked a field goal in overtime.

But this time, they never managed to get even that far. Kirk Cousins was the reason why. See for yourself here…

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Or here…

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Or anywhere else you stop the game tape, really. The year prior, Cousins went for over 400 yards and threw four touchdown passes against Green Bay to salvage the tie. Like a fool, I believed that that was the Kirk Cousins that Minnesota had poached from Washington. I was mistaken. Cousins himself also seems to be mistaken about such things…

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It’s easy see an upside to Cousins if you just look at his topline career stats. He’s averaged over 260 yards per game throughout his whole career. He’s completed nearly 70 percent of his passes in that same time span. He threw 30 touchdowns a year ago. But there comes a point in every NFL player’s career where all the upside has been exhausted, and the player you see before you is all that player will ever be. This is true of Jameis Winston: a sloppy turnover machine with an ongoing addiction to grabbing things that do not belong to him. It’s true of Marcus Mariota: a glorified caretaker of a QB who occasionally dabbles in admirable efficiency.

And it’s true of Kirk Cousins, who is a dumb man’s idea of a poor man’s Matt Ryan. His topline stats are a transparent façade. Beneath all that gaudy yardage lie the numbers that talking heads have routinely weaponized against Cousins, and rightly so. He’s 5-26 against winning teams. Has a career road record of 13-24-2. A combined primetime record of 7-25. An absolutely woeful completion percentage under pressure. The worst QB in football from the 10-yard line on in. One of the worst third-down passers in the entire league. If I missed any other damning metrics, I promise you that an analyst will be waiting to fill in those gaps the next time you hear Cousins discussed on TV or on the radio.

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Cousins is 31 years old now. At that age, [Parcells voice] you are what your stats say you are. There’s a large enough sample size now for the stats to confirm that Cousins is a superficially prolific signal-caller who cannot be trusted when his offense desperately needs to trust him. I’d call him a choker, but he doesn’t even win enough games to get in POSITION to choke. Great quarterbacks like Tom Brady inspire confidence in a fanbase. You believe that your man will come up huge when shit is tight.

Cousins inspires no such bravado. There’s no compelling evidence—neither anecdotal nor scientific—that he ought to. He no longer has the right to blame his shortcomings on misfortune, nor does he have the right to claim that shitty throws are out of character for him. That backbreaking pick he threw to Packers corner and potential Slayer replacement guitarist Kevin King? That was very much in character for Cousins. That is in keeping with his track record. The stats tell you to EXPECT him to fuck up when it matters most.

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And you do expect it. Casual NFL fans haven’t needed math to know who Kirk Cousins really is. All you need are your own two eyes. This has been true from back when Cousins was with the Skins, when he was just good enough to continually find ways to render himself a punchline. When the Vikings signed him away, I assumed that most of Cousins’s faults were directly tied to Washington’s serial incompetence:

My only certain take is that I feel a whole lot better about Cousins as a Viking than Cousins as a Skin. I bet the rest of football feels likewise.

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I was wrong to feel that way. I’m fucking embarrassed. I was yet another sap compelled to make excuses for a QB who no longer has any to fall back on. That is Kirk Cousins’s true gift: to embarrass others by mere association. The Vikings gave him a three-year deal and zero competition at the position. They gave him a talented defense. They gave him Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. They rebuilt their running attack, successfully thus far, to make things easier for him. They drafted center Garrett Bradbury to help give him more time to throw. That last effort has failed, and yet it hasn’t stopped Cousins from taking, on average, longer to get rid of the ball than most other QBs in the game.

But none of the surrounding circumstances around Kirk Cousins have ultimately mattered: not his team, nor his teammates, nor his coaches, nor any given game situation. At a certain point as a QB, you are either definitively good or bad. Cousins is bad. As it stands this season, he’s barely completing half of his passes. He can’t even get his garbage time game on point lately.

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Cousins bet on himself to get this far, but it’s only paid off at the bank. He freed himself of Dan Snyder by repeatedly accepting the franchise tag and playing on one one-year deal after another before finally parlaying those bets into the fully guaranteed $84 million deal that the Vikings handed him. That $84 million is now a millstone around the team’s neck and an endless source of amusement for fans of other teams. I could argue that subsequent QB deals and ever-increasing salary caps have rendered that contract relatively benign. But who the fuck am I kidding? I’m just pantsing myself again. The way Cousins has performed, it could be a five-dollar contract and it would still be a fucking ripoff.

This sucks, because I am both a Vikings fan AND a Skins hater, and I would have very much enjoyed it if the Skins’ decision to let Cousins go had proven as historically catastrophic as Alex Smith’s bone structure. Instead, Cousins remains a one-eyed Eli Manning who offers a seemingly attractive bill of goods to any team he plays for before ruining their best laid plans. His best attribute is that he never gets hurt, but that’s quickly becoming its own bittersweet metric. At one point, I was concerned that Cousins’s relatively short three-year agreement meant he’d bolt for even greater riches the moment that contract expired. Now that expiration day can’t come fast enough. Three years will have been too many. I can say definitely now that I don’t like that. Few people do anymore.

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The Games

All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.

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Five Throwgasms

Ravens at Chiefs: While we’re on morbidly amusing subjects, I just watched the Chiefs brush off horrific child abuse reports concerning Tyreek Hill and then hand him a fatass contract. Now Hill is sidelined for at least a month with the kind of injury usually reserved for RG3’s medical chart, and the Chiefs haven’t missed him at all. Patrick Mahomes is still putting up god numbers by launching projectiles to the likes of Mecole Hardman and DeMarcus Robinson, with the Chiefs still winning all their games by double digits.

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And so it’s worth asking out loud if Hill was all that important to Kansas City’s offense to begin with. I don’t believe in the concept of a system wideout, and I’ve watched Hill get 30 yards of separation between himself and opposing corners enough times to know he’s hardly a pedestrian athlete. But still, if the Chiefs ended up standing by that dickhead and dumping sacks of cash on his stoop when they didn’t really need to, well then I suppose that’s karma of its own kind.

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Four Throwgasms

None. If only Drew Brees had stayed healthy.

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Three Throwgasms

Saints at Seahawks: On the whole, I’m glad we got a dog and my kids have been surprisingly good about taking care of the little sack of shit. I fully expected my kids to get bored of feeding and walking the dog within the first month, but no! No, they still all their dog chores without complaint. They love him and so do I.

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However, before we got a dog, I did not realize that having one meant giving my kids an open invitation to procrastinate. When I ask my kids to do homework, they stall by hanging out with the dog. When I want them to go to sleep, they insist on tucking the dog in first, and then they spend, like, 10 minutes doing it. It’s all a big scam. The dog is bleeding this household’s efficiency dry. If I die, these kids will be late to the funeral because fucking Carter wanted a Kong toy filled with apple bits.

Rams at Browns: The refs made Odell switch out the visor inside his helmet on Monday Night, and it was for the most NFL reason of all:

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There are few things more predictable than Roger Goodell outlawing cool helmet visors and then re-legalizing them so long as player ONLY use visors made by the official sunglasses provider of Republican fishermen. Join us next month when the league mandates that all players wear Vineyard Vines cleats.

Texans at Chargers: You should be able to return a doinked field goal. You might argue that this puts an unfair amount of pressure on kickers, to which I say: who gives a shit? MAKE EVERYTHING RETURNABLE BABY. We’ve lost kickoff returns. This is the least Goodell can do to make up for it.

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Falcons at Colts: Last Sunday night the Falcons opened the roof of Megatron’s Butthole but kept the AC on. Why not just nuke the sun while you’re at it, you dicks?

Lions at Eagles

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Two Throwgasms

Steelers at Niners: I think we’re past the point where you can solidly argue that any team in the midst of a QB crisis would be best off plucking Colin Kaepernick off the street and giving him a chance to start. I still believe Kap should be in the NFL, but it’s been over two years now since he got blackballed. That blackballing has lasted long enough to fulfill the wet dreams of every alt-right sports fan by finally rendering Kap a legitimately substandard option for teams in immediate need.

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My colleagues don’t necessarily agree with me on this. Samer pointed out that the Skins started Josh Johnson in a game last season, and Johnson hadn’t been in the NFL for YEARS prior. But obviously, Josh Johnson didn’t exactly serve as a cure-all for the Skins. No one can. So yeah, I can do the standard thing where I manually retweet the news that some team has signed Rex Grossman in October, and I can add all the eyeroll emojis I like to that manual RT. It doesn’t change the fact that the window to bring Kap back into the league has sealed shut. The NFL beat him. I wanna strangle myself with a garden hose.

As for the idiot Steelers, they drafted Mason Rudolph specifically for this sort of moment. It would be wholly appropriate for him to win that job outright after a waterlogged Big Ben cried big fathead tears, consolidated his power, extorted a final contract out of this team, and then didn’t even make it two full weeks before getting his crown snatched away.

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Titans at Jags: This is the Thursday Night game, because of course it is. This should be every Thursday Night game and Gardner Minshew should play every position for both teams for it. SLICE THROUGH A BEER CAN AND THEN A TOMATO WITH EASE WITH MINSHEW BRAND KITCHEN KNIVES!

Panthers at Cardinals

Bengals at Bills

Broncos at Packers

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One Throwgasm

Dolphins at Cowboys: Miami deserves better than this. I’m not even talking about just the Dolphins. One city alone should not have to endure being home to both the Dolphins AND Marlins. It’s like finding mold in your basement. That Miami would be that city makes it even more galling. It’s Miami. It’s arguably the most fun city in the entire country. How did it end up being the new Cleveland for sports teams? It ain’t right.

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Jets at Patriots: The Patriots are going 16-0. It’s so clear already. Everything has been leading up this: the year every other player gets traded to the Pats as they break the Super Bowl record AND make up for their 18-1 season all in one horrible, horrible go. They’ll sign Eric Trump as their third quarterback just so he gets a ring.

Raiders at Vikings: I now firmly believe that Jon Gruden came back to Oakland not to win titles or even to coach very hard. I think he just wanted to spend ten years watching games in person from way up close. Why, it’s like watching tape LIVE! And you get paid for it! Astounding. I think he spent all last week pacing the sidelines, telling anyone within earshot TELL YOU HWAT I LIKE THE WAY THIS GUY MAHOMES THROWS THE FOOTBALL. He gets to be the No. 1 universal football superfan now, the way he always dreamed of being.

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Giants at Bucs

Bears at Skins

Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall

“Mean Green Killing Machine,” by Overkill! From HJ:

If you ever wondered what Metallica would sound like had they never grown up I give you Overkill. These dudes have been around since 1980 and haven’t changed a bit. Pure riffage starts this song for the first 1:30 before we get to any lyrics about a soulless killing machine that somehow becomes sentient. And for some reason we’re feeding a wolverine. Why are we feeding a wolverine? Because metal that’s why.

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Good enough reason to me. Please enjoy the video above, which includes a skull with bat wings. When I die, I hope my skull grows bat wings. I earned them.

Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week

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Eli Manning hasn’t been good for years and the Giants drafted an extra from USA’s Suits in the first round specifically to replace him. And yet, New York people are still doing THIS:

Thank you, Eli Manning

Eli has made over $200 million in his career. He’s got two rings and an open invite to Canton. Yet he gets benched AGAIN, and deservedly so, and people like New York Post columnist Steve Serby here act like he just contracted Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

There aren’t enough words and my bosses cannot possibly give me enough space to thank you enough for all the memories

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“I’ll never forget the 780 times you overthrew Plaxico Burress early in the game so that I could easily work it into my copy before the deadline hit.”

for all you did for Wellington Mara’s franchise

Man, fuck the Maras. I’m so glad one insanely rich guy, who had his daddy help get him out of San Diego, played slightly above-replacement level football for an even more insanely rich guy who is now dead.

and for Blue York

No one calls it that.

for what you have meant to every single person inside and around 1925 Giants Drive whose lives you touched with your class and grace and dignity.

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Oh here we go. Thanks to an Ole Miss education, Eli Manning can barely form whole sentences. But, for the better part of this century, the supposedly rabid jackals in the New York press have acted like this mute hayseed is the personification of elegance. We’re gonna get a Jeter reference here. I can fe2l it.

Who felt more than a tinge of sadness Tuesday when the news of your passing the torch exploded through the Quest Diagnostics Center.

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Ah yes, the hallowed Quest Diagnostics Center, where you can walk through a living history of patients getting overcharged for unnecessary MRIs. Yes, everyone inside The Big X-Ray (I assume that’s its nickname) had their world ROCKED when they found out that the Giants made an honest-to-god personnel change.

If anyone epitomized Once A Giant, Always A Giant, it was you.

“Not like that nasty Odell Toheckwith’em!”

You will still be wearing your No. 10 every game day, but the sight of you on the sidelines now will be jarring

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This will actually be true. For five minutes. After that, Daniel Jones will throw a pick and Steve Serby will host a telethon to get Eli his job back. And the Giants will give it to him.

because we have never seen you on the sidelines for a home game since Nov. 7, 2004, at Giants Stadium, when you watched Kurt Warner.

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Who was a better player!

You were our football Derek Jeter

There it is. But is there a way to still Jeter-fy this column an extra 20 percent?

— only you never wanted any Farewell Tour.

Ah. Much better. Compared to Eli, Derek Jeter is a disgusting GLORY BOY. In fact, Eli gets to be the new Derek Jeter now. “Jeter” should now be a royal title, conferred upon anyone who suffers the indignity of being benched for Geno Smith and handles it by politely stammering some shit about being a good teammate. THAT’S WHAT’S BL2E YORK IS ALL ABOUT.

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Magic Johnson’s Lock Of The Week: Cardinals +2

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“I believe that the Panthers will not be as good without Cam Newton as they are with him! Cam has a foot injury! That’s important because the foot is attached to the leg, and having legs is important for NFL players. I actually work as a consultant for my close friend and Panthers owner David Tepper, and I believe that we could sign Philip Rivers this offseason to help!”

[gets fined $75,000 for tampering]

“But until then, I like the Arizona Cardinals to secure a victory. Congratulations in advance to my dear friend John McCain on their triumph. To think that he survived the war in Vietnam and is still alive to tell the tale!”

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2019 Magic record: 1-1

Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death

Alvin Kamara, who’s about to get a taste of what it feels like to be Steve Slaton now that Drew Brees has to get conversion therapy for his thumb. This is gonna be a difficult couple of months for Kamara, but mostly for his owners. I only hope that I can withstand this stretch with the grace and patience of Eli Manning.

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Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!

Artioli Chrysler Dodge Ram! From Daniel:

A Dodge dealership in my area does movie spoofs for their commercials. Here’s one where they do The Cable Guy basketball scene. It sucks.

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It sure does. I’m at the point now where I’m ready for all parodies to be outlawed. Commercial parodies. YouTube parodies. Parody Twitter accounts (god). SNL. All of them. We have 5,000 times more parodies now than actual art. It’s outta hand and I’m sick of it. Unless I do a parody. Then it’s all good.

Fire This Asshole!

Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2019 chopping block:

Bill O’Brien*
Jay Gruden*
Doug Marrone*
Dan Quinn*
Ron Rivera*
Pat Shurmur
Mike Tomlin
Mike Zimmer
Adam Gase
Brian Flores
Kliff Kingsbury
Vic Fangio

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Vic Fangio looks like your father-in-law. Every time they cut to him on the sidelines, I keep expecting him to be reading a newspaper. He should coach in a bathrobe.

Great Moments In Grandpa History

Reader Russ sends in this story I call QUIET PART LOUD.

My grandfather was the kindest man I have ever met in my life. He was with us until I was about 35 years old and I don’t recall him ever saying a negative thing about another human being... Except once.

Later in life my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. (As you read this please remember, ALZHEIMER’S). My grandparents bought an apartment inside of a nice retirement community. Inside the building is a restaurant with a dining room. My cousin and I met my grandparents for lunch there one Saturday. My grandpa noticed a woman walking into the dining area. You know that voice that some people do where they are talking in a whisper voice, but not at a whisper volume? My grandpa leaned into the table and said in a whisper voice, but a regular volume, “that lady’s crazy”.

He then leaned into the table further and said even louder, “and she’s a JEW!” My cousin and I just looked at each other dumbfounded.

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Oh man, the loud old man whisper. I bet I do that already. Minus the sickness-induced anti-Semitism part. That’ll come later, I guess.

Gametime Snack Of The Week

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GUMBO GUMBO GUMBO. I’m going to New Orleans for the first time tomorrow and you better believe that I’m gonna order a piping hot bowl of alligator gumbo as an appetizer at every meal, breakfast included. I want my blood to test positive for roux when I’m done there.

I am going to NOLA for a bachelor party. Coincidentally (I swear), my anniversary is ALSO this weekend. Not the best husbanding on my part.

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Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

PICTURED: super strong beer
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DRUK 11000! From the dragon-infested lands of Bhutan comes self-described “super strong beer.” Just the way I likes it, amigo. Here’s reader Carson:

From Bhutan, a country that Donald Trump had never heard of during a briefing and referred to as “Button”, comes Druk 11000. About $1.60 for a 20+ ounce bottle and it’s surprisingly good. A little on the light side, but better tasting than a basic Bud, PBR, Coors, etc.

Despite the thoroughly awesome label, it’s not “Super Strong” - it’s about 6%. Plus, “Druk 11000” sounds like it could be a Terminator chasing John Connor, or a 90s era video game. You must have it!

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Truly I must. Definitely be worth the resulting massive stroke that would ensue. You can’t spell DRUNK without DRUK. Eleven thousand Bhutanese know that.

Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!

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“You find a spoon in a garbage can, there’s probably still something that tastes good on it.”

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Dolphins Fans

The Meg, which delivers everything it promises by being a movie where the only dude who can save the world from a prehistoric monster shark is a drunken Jason Statham. ACK-SHLEE OI JON’T FANCAY ONE LAST SHARK JOB, MATE.

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Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

“Oh no! He’s going over the falls!”
“Oh good. He snagged that tree branch.”
“Oh no! The branch broke off!”
“Oh good. He can grab onto them pointy rocks.”
“Oh no! Them rocks broke his arms and legs!”
“Oh good. Those helpful beavers are swimming out to save him.”
“Oh no! They’re biting him, and stealing his pants!”

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Enjoy the games, everyone.

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About the author

Drew Magary

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.