The Minnesota Vikings are 8-1 through 10 weeks, and such a record noticeably turns heads — even from Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
Minnesota stunningly upset the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, grabbing the attention of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young.
Young said about Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on Monday, “Don’t judge Kirk Cousins from the past. Judge Kirk Cousins with Kevin O’Connell. And Kirk Cousins with Kevin O’Connell — I’m behind 100%.”
Cousins actually isn’t matching his individual statistical performance from years past. But his team is winning, and that’s all most folks evaluate. These are Cousins’ rankings per credible QB metrics through 10 weeks:
- PFF: 14th
- DVOA: 17th
- EPA/Play: 17th
- Passer Rating: 20th
- QBR: 20th
And at the end of a “normal” Cousins season, the passer usually ranks around 10th to 12th via the above metrics.
Still, the Vikings are tied for the NFL’s best record at 8-1, sharing a win percentage with the Philadelphia Eagles, who lost on Monday Night Football against the scrappy Washington Commanders. If the Vikings, Cousins, and Cousins’ Hall of Fame-worth endorsement from Young have the gumption to keep pace with Philadelphia, the franchise could feasibly secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
Young played in the NFL for 15 seasons from 1985 to 1999. He began his career as an underachieving QB1 with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers, venturing to the 49ers in 1987, where he supported the legendary Joe Montana. In 1992, Young took the big job in San Francisco, culminating in a Super Bowl XXIX triumph over the San Diego Chargers. He also tabulated 7 Pro Bowls, 5 All-Pro nods, and 2 NFL MVP awards.
The man has a resume.
So, when Young backs Cousins — believes in him 100% — the endorsement is meaningful. Young knows what’s it like not to set the league on fire in a player’s first couple of seasons but later achieve superstardom. While he didn’t predict Hall of Fame credibility for Cousins, commenting on Cousins’ ability to guide Minnesota’s offense with the tutelage of O’Connell is as noteworthy as it is surprising.
Before 2022, NFL pundits and fans often skewered Cousins for a 59-59-2 (.500) career “quarterback record.” It was the same win percentage as Eli Manning at the time and better than Super Bowl champion Matthew Stafford. But for Cousins, a lightning rod for criticism, the .500 QB-win stat was used to insult.
Now, though, those naysayers have quieted a smidgen after the Vikings impressive and unforeseen start to 2022.
We shall see if Cousins reverts to the “mediocre record” player or effectuates Young’s lofty forecast, as the Vikings have eight games remaining in the regular season — five of which are at home.
The Vikings host the Cowboys on Sunday.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).