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Kevin O’Connell is completely changing Kirk Cousins’ narrative

Kirk Cousins
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the 2022 NFL season, we all thought we knew who Kirk Cousins was. He was widely dubbed as the player who didn’t show up in primetime games, required a top-notch supporting cast to win, and generally just was not a franchise quarterback.

While his biggest moment may currently be the “You like that!” postgame expression after leading a 24-point comeback win while he was still with Washington, that result was largely viewed as a fluke at the time.

Now under the guidance of Kevin O’Connell for the second time in their careers, it’s hard to view what Cousins has done this season as a fluke.

Not only does Cousins have a chance to set an NFL record for the most 4th-quarter comebacks in league history (even though Vikings fans may not encourage or be able to handle any more suspense), he leads all other quarterbacks with seven game-winning drives this season.

Cousins may not be in the MVP conversation (although he is actually tied for the eighth-best odds in the NFL), yet the 11th-year QB is playing some of the best football of his career. We can no longer say he’s always a .500 quarterback, as the Vikings are 11-3, and his career record is now climbing up to 70-62-2.

With so many previous narratives about Cousins going up in smoke, new viewpoints are emerging about Kirko Chainz, one of the NFL’s most popular QBs as of late. But what has been the key? Is it improved offensive line play, more chemistry with his receivers, the castoff of Mike Zimmer and his rotating cast of offensive coordinators, or something else?

Related: Kevin O’Connell believes opponents are starting to target Justin Jefferson with illegal hits

Kevin O’Connell’s belief in Kirk Cousins speaks volumes

NFL: New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Last offseason we heard Vikings fans ready to press the reset button, shipping Captain Kirk off to a new island, but we haven’t heard any such talk this season. As they say, winning cures all woes, and somehow O’Connell took over an offense that didn’t have much roster turnover and has completely put the Vikings on a different, much more prosperous course.

No matter how the season ends, even if it’s a first-round playoff exit, you won’t hear anyone pining for a change at QB or head coach this offseason in the Twin Cities, and that has been a rare feat as of late. For once, the fans can have confidence in their QB and head coach pairing, not worrying about if they’re on the same page.

Maybe that’s half the battle for Cousins, just having a coach who believes in his abilities. Who knows what the secret to their success is, but for now, Vikings fans should just sit back and ride this thrilling rollercoaster and enjoy every moment.

While O’Connell and Cousins’ luck is likely to run out soon, we haven’t seen many other seasons like this. He may not be Mahomes, Hurts, Allen, or Burrow, but Cousins has been the perfect fit to operate KOC’s offense so far, and as long as Justin Jefferson is in the lineup, you can never say never when playing the 2022 Minnesota Vikings.

Related: NFL QB Rankings: Kirk Cousins rises after making history, but Patrick Mahomes still No. 1

Unless it’s a Lombardi, Captain Kirk will never escape past scrutiny

Next up, will be trying to maintain this success in the playoffs, but even then, most would point to Minnesota’s biggest weakness being a defense that allows the fifth-most points in football. If Cousins has one bad throw, one bad game, despite having an otherwise excellent season, can we really blame the Vikings’ captain?

For now, Cousins has maybe had two bad games all season, both losses. Kirk Thuggins has had just three multi-turnover performances through 14 games. Oh, and we didn’t even mention all the records he helps Jefferson break, as he currently leads the NFL in receiving yardage and is even on pace to break the NFL’s all-time single-season record at just under 2,000 receiving yards.

Perhaps the strangest part in all of Minnesota’s newfound success is that Cousins isn’t necessarily doing anything different himself. He’s the same QB he’s always been. Only more people are taking notice because the Vikings are one of the best teams in the NFC.

Comp. rateYardsTDINT
Kirk Cousins’ stats in 202265.3%3,8182411
Cousins’ pace for remainder of 202265.3%4,6352913
Cousins’ average season over his seven years as starter66.74,2232910
Stats pulled from Pro Football Reference

Justin Jefferson likely wouldn’t prefer to have any other QB under center in Minnesota, and based on this season’s results so far, the Vikings look pretty smart for extending their much-maligned, highly-criticized team captain. Knowing Jefferson will be up for an extension in the near future, the Vikings won’t want to do anything to disrupt this high-scoring duo’s chemistry.

Then again, haters love to hate. By the time the three-time Pro Bowl QB has another errant throw, spectators will be quick to reach into their memory bank and start slandering him with the same garbage takes from the Ice Age that he’s doing his best to erase with each win that he earns.

The only thing that can rescue Cousins from such lazy takes in the future is if he finally brings a Super Bowl to Minneapolis, which is a huge stretch. Then again, no one would have predicted such an incredible performance out of the Vikings this season either.

Instead of saying the former Michigan State Spartan disappears under the lights in primetime, where he’s climbed to 11-19, maybe it’s time to hand the gunslinger a new crown, as the comeback king.

Or maybe he’ll implode come playoff time. That’s just the ups and downs of football, but he’s still in the top half of NFL QBs and doesn’t appear close to giving up that title any time soon.

Related: Love the Vikings? Get involved in the discussion on the Purple Pain forums