The Vikings haven’t had a losing season since 2014, which was head coach Mike Zimmer’s first season with the team. They went 7-9. Overall, the Vikings were 57-38-1 under Zimmer before the 2020 season started. So, the team’s 1-5 record after their 40-23 curbstomping at the hands of a previously winless Falcons team that fired their head coach and general manager this past week should be a rather pertinent wakeup call.
What’s the problem? Well, the Vikings are trying to work with a new-look cornerback group, which is an issue, but the primary problem is the team’s most prominent, and most expensive: Quarterback Kirk Cousins. Coming into the Atlanta game, Cousins had thrown just eight touchdowns to seven interceptions. He ranked 17th in DYAR, 19th in DVOA, and 25th in Total QBR. Those metrics are about to plummet after what Cousins did on Sunday — he threw three interceptions in the first half, which were the headlines in an awful day in which he completed 24 of 36 passes for 343 yards, those three picks, and three garbage-time touchdowns. (Yes, his first touchdown pass to rookie receiver Justin Jefferson came early in the third quarter, but when you’re down 23-0 at the half, the second half can turn into garbage time pretty quickly).
And it’s not that Cousins threw three interceptions — there are games in which quarterbacks throw multiple picks and only certain percentages are their fault. In this case, it’s hard to assign blame anywhere else.
To his credit, Cousins was entirely transparent after the game regarding what occurred on all three interceptions. So, we’ll walk through all three with his analysis.
“The first one [to linebacker Deion Jones on the first play of the game], I thought, was the worst one of the game, if you will. First play of the game, the coverage was not confusing, it was just a zone drop. I simply forced the football into coverage and tried to do too much. That’s a mistake I may have made in Year 1, but I am disappointed that I would do that now.”