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Vikings G.M. dubs Kirk Cousins “phenomenal”

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Vikings GM Rick Spielman called Kirk Cousins' first half of the season "phenomenal," but was he piling it on a little too much?

The Vikings, with a trio of their quarterbacks due to become free agents in March, opted to keep none of them. Instead, the Vikings signed free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, paying him $28 million per year on a three-year deal.

Through nine games, the early returns are positive, from the perspective of the guy who signed Cousins.

Via Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com, G.M. Rick Spielman called Cousins “phenomenal” at the team’s Week 10 bye. Spielman pointed out that Cousins has performed behind “six or seven” line combinations en route to 2,685 passing yards, an average of 7.4 yards per attempt, a 71.3-percent completion percentage., 17 touchdown passes, and five interceptions.

“I think Kirk not only has done extremely well in how he’s performed, especially when he’s been getting pressured in the pocket, but you see some of the throws that he makes in games, those are some throws that are unique,” Spielman said. “There’s not a lot of people who can make those type of throws.”

It’s more than the throws, in Spielman’s assessment.

“But it’s also how he’s developed into a leader of this football team,” Spielman said. “I know I’ve sat in a couple quarterback meetings where they’re sitting in there going over the game, and just sitting there listening to him talk, and being critical of himself and how he can improve. He’s always looking to try and get better. It’s pretty fascinating to sit there and listen to him sitting there breaking down game tape, and how important this is to him.”

It gets very important starting next weekend, when the Vikings have a pair of Sunday night games (at Chicago and vs. Green Bay) before a crippling cross-country road trip featuring games at New England and at Seattle, on a Monday night. Those next four games will go a long way toward figuring out whether the Vikings will make a return to the postseason in Cousins’ first year with the team.

To get there, Cousins will need to be able to exert more in-game leadership, particularly when things aren’t going well. In a loss to the Bills, the Vikings folded the tents early. In a loss to the Saints, the Vikings seemed to surrender after a 14-point swing late in the first half, sparked by an Adam Thielen fumble.