As Vikings fans woke up and faced this Monday with their team — riding high at 13-3 and headed for the NFC Championship game a year ago — not even in the playoff tournament in large part because their $84 million quarterback Kirk Cousins came up small in the biggest moments of the season, this question must be answered: “You like that?!?’’
The Vikings’ season ended with a thud and a whimper when they lost Sunday’s must-win season finale 24-10 to a Chicago Bears team that had nothing to play for but a minor shift in their playoff seeding.
The loss was the Vikings’ sixth this season against a team with a winning record. The only winning team the Vikings beat this season was Philadelphia, which rallied from a 6-7 start to finish 9-7 and in the playoffs.
Why is that significant?
Because Cousins, despite that all of that unprecedented guaranteed money he was given, has failed to beat teams with winning records for his entire career. Sunday’s loss to the Bears gave Cousins an astonishing 4-25 career record against teams with winning records.
Has that all been his fault? Of course not. But he has to take a pretty large ownership stake in that record, because this isn’t exactly a small sample size.
Cousins’ final stat line in the loss to Chicago was anemic — 20-of-33 for a career-low 132 yards with one touchdown. He was 9-of-14 for 44 yards and was sacked twice in the first half while the Bears established their dominance and the Vikings averaged 1.96 yards per play.
Cousins’ final statistics for the season — a 70.1-percent completion rate, 4,298 yards, 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions — were impressive. But Cousins’ stats always have been impressive. They just haven’t been matched by team success. In his four seasons as a full-time starter, Cousins has gone 9-7, 8-7-1, 7-9 and 8-7-1 this season with one playoff berth.
Bill Parcells always said it best when he stated: “You are what your record says you are.’’
And right now, with a pretty decent sample size in place, Cousins is more of a statistic compiler than a winner.
And Vikings fans, who were so cocksure Cousins was their winning $84 million lottery ticket to delivering Minnesota’s first-ever Super Bowl title, are reeling in that reality right now.
The Vikings paid all that money to Cousins for him to be the missing piece that would deliver them a Super Bowl. He not only failed to do that, the Vikings actually regressed with him under center.
The bottom line is this: The Vikings messed with a successful product when they let Case Keenum go after his magical 2017 run and paid Cousins that $84 million guaranteed.
They tried to make a bold move to get to that elusive “next level” and they got burned. This is not about comparing Keenum to Cousins. Like Cousins with the Vikings, Keenum didn’t take the Broncos anywhere significant for the free agent money (two years, $36 million) he was given.
But the Vikings and their fans have to be asking themselves right now if they wouldn’t like to turn the clock back, try to build on the success they had last season and let Cousins sign his overpriced contract elsewhere.
Instead of readying themselves for another deep playoff run, the lasting image at the moment for Vikings fans is their top receiver, Adam Thielen, involved in a disgusted sideline verbal exchange with Cousins late in the first half after the two had a communication breakdown on a pass route.
At the end of the heated exchange, Thielen angrily waved his arm in the air at Cousins as if to say, “I’ve had enough,’’ before storming away.
The scene surely represented a metaphor for how Vikings fans are feeling about Cousins at the moment.
“How do you like that?!?’’
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