On Monday, the Green Bay Packers see the division-rival Minnesota Vikings for the second time in 2019. Ted Glover of Daily Norseman kindly volunteered to answer our questions about the Vikings and provide some insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
APC: When the Packers and Vikings last played, Kirk Cousins had one of his worst games with Minnesota, completing less than 44% of his passes for 230 yards and just one touchdown. He also turned over the ball three times. Since then, Cousins has looked like an entirely different player, completing more than 72.5% of his throws for 3,152 yards, 23 touchdowns, and three picks. What has changed for Cousins, and do you think his success the last 13 games is sustainable?
I think it’s been a couple things. I mentioned the protection from the offensive line, but let’s take a little bit deeper dive. In week two, he was running for his life. Per PFF, he was pressured 18 times, by far the most this season, hit 6, and sacked twice, and that was worst game the o-line has had in terms of pass protection. Cousins has only been pressured 10 times or more in one other game, also on the road against Kansas City. He has time to throw, he has good receivers, and Stefanski does a really good job of calling plays to match the strength of his quarterback.
Another overlooked aspect that people aren’t giving him a lot of credit for is how he has dramatically cut down on his turnovers. Coming into 2019, Cousins averaged more than one turnover a game, and as you mentioned in the question he turned it over three times in that week two game. He’s only had five turnovers total in 12 games since then, three interceptions and two fumbles. And two of those interceptions were passes that bounced right out of the hands of the usually reliable Stefon Diggs. He hasn’t had a multiple turnover game since week two, either.
It also helps to have a reliable set of receivers, and Cousins has that. When Adam Thielen was out, Irv Smith, Jr., really evolved, Kyle Rudolph came out of hibernation, and Diggsy blew up. Thielen had a bit of a quiet return, but he’s back and the Vikings offense is really balanced and explosive.
Can he keep it up? Yeah, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t. We’re not talking a 2-3 game streak here, we’re talking essentially an entire season’s worth of work.
We’d like to thank Ted. Be sure to check out the rest of our Q&A session with Daily Norseman over the course of the week as well as our Q&A session over there. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Monday for our comprehensive game-day coverage of Packers versus Vikings.