Behind the scenes, it seems that former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer had enough of his quarterback, Kirk Cousins.
When Mike Zimmer was fired as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, it seemed like a long overdue move from an outside perspective. Zimmer failed to maintain the level of success the team saw after the Minneapolis Miracle, ending his final season as head coach with another losing record.
Although Zimmer is the one out of Minneapolis, it seems that Zimmer wanted Kirk Cousins out of the building all season. According to Chad Graff of The Athletic, Zimmer felt that Cousins didn’t make enough winning plays and didn’t elevate his teammates, which he complained about openly in coaching meetings.
Graff notes that some of Zimmer’s “top lieutenants” agreed with him about Cousins.
Mike Zimmer reportedly complained about Kirk Cousins during the 2021 season
As SKORNorth director Phil Mackey notes, “the Vikings averaged 10 wins — including two division titles and an NFC Title Game — in Zimmer’s four years prior to Cousins.” While Zimmer endured the brunt of the blame and the Vikings have now hired a new general manager and head coach, the doubts raised about Cousins aren’t without merit.
Cousins can be a great passer, but if he lacks crucial leadership qualities, that can affect his ability to win games—in this case, make winning plays and elevating teammates. The intangibility of what leadership does can be difficult to pinpoint, but the most successful championship quarterbacks have all been locker room leaders who inspired their teammates. Failing to inspire confidence in others and maintain it within himself could cause Cousins to falter when the team needs him most.
However, the Vikings made a significant financial commitment to Cousins, and it’s easier to try coaching up a quarterback than finding another capable veteran to take over a franchise. While Zimmer could have been the problem, it doesn’t mean that he’s necessarily wrong in his assessment of Cousins.