The Minnesota Vikings have never won a Super Bowl.
The last time they appeared in one was 1976.
As they look to make it back to the championship game, Minnesota has put their trust into quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Cousins was signed to a three-year, $84 million contract in 2018.
In 2020, he signed a two-year, $66 million contract extension.
Now, Cousins is under team control with the Vikings through the 2022 season.
In his three years with Minnesota, Cousins has completed 69 percent of his passes for 12,166 yards and a 190/84 TD/INT ratio.
He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2019.
Cousins is also currently third in NFL history in completion percentage and sixth in regular season passer rating.
Through his three years with the Vikings, Minnesota has gone 25-21-1 during the regular season.
They have reached the postseason once.
But as Cousins enters his fourth year in Minnesota, it’s clear he isn’t the right quarterback to lead the team back to the Super Bowl.
Perhaps the Vikings already knew that as they used a third-round pick on former Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond in the 2021 NFL Draft.
If Cousins wants to lead Minnesota to any postseason success, let alone a run to the Super Bowl, both he and the team will need to improve on these two key factors.
Cousins has never been necessarily a bad quarterback during the regular season.
Being top 10 in both completion percentage and regular season passer rating in NFL history makes that evident.
However, it’s Cousins’ struggles during the playoffs that have ultimately foreshadowed his ceiling in Minnesota.
The Vikings only playoff appearance with Cousins came during the 2019 season.
In the Wild Card round, Minnesota defeated the New Orleans Saints 26-20.
Cousins completed 19-of-31 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown as the Vikings won in overtime.
Kirk Cousins connects with Kyle Rudolph to end the Saints season.
Is this where Cousins takes the next step?
— Borderline Sports (@borderline_s1) January 5, 2020
Cousins’ pass to Kyle Rudolph for the walk-off win sure was pretty.
But he averaged just 7.8 yards per pass and had a quarterback rating of just 79.3.
Furthermore, running back Dalvin Cook rushed 28 times for 94 scores and two touchdowns.
The Vikings don’t win that game without Cook, but might have won without Cousins.
Cousins and the Vikings took on the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round.
They would fall 27-10 as Cousins completed 21-of-29 passes for 172 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
He averaged just 5.9 yards per pass and had a quarterback rating of just 45.
While he didn’t necessarily fall flat on his face, those two games were the only two playoff games for Cousins in purple and yellow.
He didn’t exactly shine as a quarterback with Super Bowl aspirations should.
Not only must Cousins lead Minnesota to the postseason, but he has to shine if/when they get there.
As a quarterback, Cousins obviously has nothing to do with the defense.
However, the defense has everything to do with Cousins’ potential to lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl.
In Cousins’ first year with the team in 2018, Minnesota had the fourth-best defense in the NFL, allowing 4,955 yards.
In year two they finished 14th, allowing 5,465.
Last season, the Vikings were 27th overall, allowing 6,292 yards.
There has been a steady decline in all three of his seasons.
But while Cousins doesn’t play on the defensive side of the ball, his job is to elevate the offense to mask the team’s defensive woes.
For example, the Kansas City Chiefs won the 2020 Super Bowl with Patrick Mahomes at the helm.
The Chiefs defense finished just 16th in the league, allowing 5,733 yards.
On the flip side, the New England Patriots won the 2019 Super Bowl with their defense ranking best in the league, allowing just 4,414 yards.
Their offense ranked just 15th, gaining 5,664 yards.
Mahomes was able to elevate the Chiefs despite the team having a mediocre defense.
The Patriots defense was able to elevate the team despite having a mediocre offense.
For Cousins to succeed, he either needs to improve as a passer and be able to win games on his own, or the Vikings need to drastically improve on the defensive side.
Minnesota did re-vamp their defense this season and brought back defensive lineman Everson Griffen.
Officially 💯% Real
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 23, 2021
They’ll hope he, alongside players such as cornerback Patrick Peterson who they signed from the Arizona Cardinals, will help improve the defensive fronts.
But unless there are drastic changes, it would be hard to see Minnesota finishing as a top-10 defense in the NFL.
In that case, Cousins will need to lift the offense and be able to win football games as they team’s leader and play-maker.
So far in his three-year tenure, he has yet to do so.