Kirk Cousins studying hard but mostly familiar with Vikings’ new offensive system

Cousins is entering his fifth season as Minnesota Vikings quarterback, and has his fifth different coordinator. Go back to late in his 2012-17 tenure with Washington and his coordinator carousel has featured seven in the past seven years.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks to pass the ball against the Chicago Bears during the second half Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Vikings won 17-9.
Jon Durr / USA Today Sports
We are part of The Trust Project.

EAGAN, Minnesota — Kirk Cousins knows the drill well. When spring arrives, it’s time to learn a new system under a new offensive coordinator.

Cousins is entering his fifth season as Minnesota Vikings quarterback, and has his fifth different coordinator. Go back to late in his 2012-17 tenure with Washington and his coordinator carousel has featured seven in the past seven years.

There is some familiarity for Cousins in his latest study sessions. Minnesota’s new head coach is Kevin O’Connell, who was Cousins’ quarterbacks coach with Washington in 2017 and will call the plays this fall. And the new offensive coordinator is Wes Phillips, who was tight ends coach in Washington during Cousins’ final four seasons there.

Both O’Connell and Phillips have learned under Sean McVay, who was with Cousins as Washington’s offensive coordinator from 2014-16 and coached the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl victory last season. And both O’Connell, as offensive coordinator, and Phillips, as tight ends coach, most recently worked with the Rams under McVay.

Flag football is increasing its popularity as concerns over physicality of tackle football continue. For girls, this means the chance to enter the football world earlier than ever before.
While Kendall Hanley breaks barriers as a female hockey official, Sarah Fuller continues to be a pillar for equity in women's sports.
Scott Robinson is directing his final Sportacular Tailgate Challenge, which happens Saturday at Mayo Field. Robinson, Bolder Options Program Director the last 12 years, is stepping down in September from a position that has been dear to his heart.
Veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins is entering his 11th NFL season and fifth with the Vikings. He believes that team bonding could play a role in the win-loss record this fall
After being taken with the No. 23 pick in the 2021 draft out of Virginia Tech, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Darrisaw showed he has the talent to develop into a Pro Bowl-type player.
If both players can stay healthy, Minnesota should have a couple of the best pass rushers in the league.
Last month, the Vikings elected not to pick up the $13.202 million option on Bradbury for the 2023 season, putting him in line to be a free agent in March
After the Vikings hired coach Kevin O’Connell this offseason, McCardell was among the only position coaches retained.
With starter Dalvin Cook, backup Alexander Mattison, third-stringer Kene Nwangwu and fullback C.J. Ham, it remains to be seen what new coach Kevin O’Connell might do to spread the wealth
Though the 24-year-old has the ability to beat people deep, Osborn acknowledged that his big plays are likely going to come via yards after catch

Nevertheless, Cousins said he’s putting in a lot of work to learn the new system. He likened to it to being an NFL rookie in 2012, learning under McVay in 2014 and to 2018, when he first joined the Vikings when their offensive coordinator was John DeFilippo.


“There are elements that are the same, but it’s amazing how much things have evolved,” Cousins said after an organized team activities practice Tuesday. “Looking back to like when I was with Sean McVay in 2016. Sean’s offense, to the degree that this would have similarities, has gone a long ways over the last five years. … There’s foundational undertones that are similar, but I’ve just learned it all as if it’s new and just have to learn it as the 2022 Vikings offense.”

Still, in the month and a half Cousins has been with the new coaching staff during offseason drills, Phillips has sensed the quarterback is familiar with the system being put in place.

“He’s doing great,” Phillips said. “Kirk’s got a lot of experience, a lot of games played, and a lot of experience with a lot of concepts that we run. … The read might be slightly different, so those are some things that he’s kind of adjusting to. But his ability to reference things that he’s already experienced is a huge asset for us. We’re just trying to tweak instead of it being a whole new concept.”

Phillips said Cousins Is “more like a coach in the meeting room.” He compared working with Cousins to when quarterback Matthew Stafford arrived in Los Angeles last year after 12 years with Detroit.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins looks to the sidelines against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Jan. 9. The Vikings beat the Bears, 31-17.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press

“They can reference plays, specific plays, ‘Oh, that was 2015 when we were playing the Eagles,’ ” Phillips said. “(Cousins is) a very hard worker. … It’s always going to be a little bit of a verbiage change, but I think we’ve gotten through that phase now.”

The last time Cousins had the same coordinator for two straight full seasons was his time spent with McVay. He then had Matt Cavanaugh with Washington in 2017. With Minnesota, between DeFilippo and Phillips, he had Kevin Stefanski, Gary Kubiak and Klint Kubiak.

“You’re spending time studying,” Cousins said of this spring. “For me, it’s been a lot of time on flash cards. Just trying to memorize plays and terms and formations and protections and just the rules around all those things so it becomes instinctual. You feel like an eighth grader studying for a quiz in school the next day the way you go home each night.”

Cousins said the biggest difference in learning a new system is “terminology.” That’s where the flash cards come in.


“It’s been an effective method for me but not one that I’ve used a lot in the past,” Cousins said.

Another difference for Cousins this season in Minnesota has been his head coach coming from the offensive side of the ball. For the previous four years, Cousins had Mike Zimmer, a longtime defensive coordinator who was fired in January after eight Vikings seasons and replaced by O’Connell.

Zimmer and Cousins sometimes butted heads, but the quarterback didn’t offer much Tuesday in comparing what it’s been like under O’Connell after time spent with Zimmer.

“There’s obviously (some) changes, but I wouldn’t say it’s a big deal that I would be focusing on,” Cousins said.


This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What to read next
After this week’s blockbuster move, the Wild now have two first-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft
The key for any player, Brunson always says, is to find what it’s going to take to be successful, carve out your niche and stick to it. The 6-foot-1 forward exemplified that during her 15-year career
Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama, and Sungjae Im were the biggest names committed to the 3M Open as of Friday afternoon
Jorge Polanco tied the game with a solo homer off star closer Jorge Lopez, and Miranda won it with a pinch-hit single