Mike Zimmer on Kirk Cousins: “There’s times you’ve just got to pull the trigger”
On Sunday, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen came very close to publicly calling out quarterback Kirk Cousins. On Monday, coach Mike Zimmer echoed Thielen’s point, in a very simple, matter-of-fact way.
“There’s times you’ve just to pull the trigger,” Zimmer told reporters a day after the Vikings lost to the Bears in Chicago, 16-6. “And you’ve just got to believe that you’re gonna make the throw.”
Zimmer previously pointed out that Cousins “completed a lot of balls” on Sunday. And he did, connecting on 27 of 36 throws. But he missed some opportunities down the field, as Thielen lamented on Sunday.
“I think there were some times he might have gotten rid of it a little bit too soon,” Zimmer said regarding Cousins. “But you know when you’re getting pounded a few times, sometimes you’ve got to take the quick throw.”
Zimmer disputed a reporter’s characterization that Cousins was “gun shy,” but when saying that Cousins needs “to pull the trigger,” isn’t that the message?
Ultimately, Zimmer has no choice but to keep trying to make chicken salad out of a high-priced but low-performing passing game.
“This team won’t be judged in September,” Zimmer said. “In the NFC, the leading team has three wins. We’ll just keep fighting and keep going.”
That’s fine, but it’s not hard to figure out how the next 12 games will unfold. At Giants, win. Eagles, win (maybe). At Lions, loss. Washington, win. At Chiefs, loss. At Cowboys, loss. Broncos, win. At Seahawks, loss. Lions, win. At Chargers, loss.
If that’s how it plays out (assuming a win over Philly), the Vikings will be 7-7 heading into a pair of season-ending home games against the Packers and Bears. The Green Bay game will be played in prime time, which based on Cousins’ history isn’t good news. And the Chicago game may have a playoff berth riding on it. Which based on Cousins’ history also isn’t good news.
There’s still time for Cousins to alter a future that seems to already be written for the 2019 Vikings, but he’s going to have to find in himself on the fly something that, based on 20 games with the Vikings, just doesn’t seem to be there.
It’s that undefinable but very real quality that some quarterbacks have, and some don’t. It’s the ability to make the big play in the big moment, without being freaked out by the pressure or the implications of success or failure in that precise spot. Getting it done in those moments creates confidence, and that confidence can grow and infect the team, leading to the big moments no longer feeling quite so big -- and allowing guys like Joe Montana, with the season on the line in Super Bowl XXIII, to point out to his teammates that he could see John Candy sitting in the stands.
We know the quarterbacks who can deliver in a big game and a big moment. We know the quarterbacks who can’t. If Cousins is ever going to move from he latter category to the former, he needs to do it soon.