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Mike Zimmer steers clear of “this ‘Kirk Cousins on Monday night’ thing”

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Mike Florio and Chris Simms dive into the Week 17 schedule and look at the possible playoff scenarios for certain teams.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins now has a record of 0-9 on Monday Night Football. And no matter how hard folks like Booger McFarland try to pooh-pooh Cousins’ responsibility for that level of futility, the reality is that, under the bright lights of prime time, Cousins more often than not plays like poo-poo.

Some say wins are an appropriate quarterback stat. Others loudly and vehemently disagree.

The truth is in the middle. A quarterback contributes significantly to potential victory by making good pre-snap decisions, good post-snap decisions, accurate throws, and minimal blunders. The accountability he instills during the days and weeks and months between games helps ensure that teammates will do their jobs well, too. And the leadership he brings to each and every game -- especially in key moments -- helps the whole become greater than the sum of the parts.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer understandably wasn’t in the mood to entertain the broad, intangible connection between quarterback and wins/losses after Monday night’s loss to the Packers.

“I’m not going to get into this ‘Kirk Cousins on Monday night’ thing and all this stuff,” Zimmer told reporters after the 23-10 loss to the Packers, which relegated the Vikings to the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff field.

The question that prompted the response focused on whether Zimmer was surprised with Cousins’ performance, given what was on the line. It wasn’t about Monday night; it was about Cousins’ play (which was poor) in a game with very high stakes.

There were bigger problems than Cousins. The absence of Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison kept the offense from committing to the run that way it usually does, and the lack of punch in the running game kept Cousins from dialing up significant opportunities via play-action and bootlegs.

“Offensively we didn’t play as well as we can play, I’ll say that,” Zimmer said. “And defensively we could have played the run better. So there’s a lot of things that we need to clean up.”

The defense didn’t play better because the defense spent most of the game on the field, with the Packers having a full 15-minute advantage in time of possession. And that happened because the offense, which had no rhythm or flow (remember that, folks, when putting offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski on the short list of no-brainer head-coaching candidates for 2020), could do nothing -- converting three gift-wrapped turnovers into 10 points and then scoring none through the more traditional process of acquiring possession of the ball.

There’s plenty to clean up, and fewer than two weeks to do it before the Vikings face seemingly inevitable (based on last night) elimination at Green Bay or New Orleans.