MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins woke up Wednesday morning to find out that not one but two NFL Network analysts have predicted he will be named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player this season.
It all started late Tuesday night when NFL Network sent out a graphic that showed who some analysts picked for MVP. There were the typical predictions of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen, but hall of fame wide receiver Michael Irvin selected Cousins.
Then on Wednesday morning, analyst Kyle Brandt said on “Good Morning Football” that Cousins is his MVP choice, as well. Brandt pulled off a sweatshirt to unveil a Cousins No. 8 jersey when announcing his selection.
“It’s … good content on a Wednesday morning when they’re trying to fill a segment,” Cousins said about the predictions.
For what it’s worth, Brandt said he wanted to pick a “totally unforeseen, head-scratcher type of MVP.” He pointed to 2002, when former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon came out of nowhere to be named MVP for the Oakland Raiders.
Brandt said Cousins “has the weapons, he has the experience, he has the new coach” to win the award. The new coach is offensive-minded Kevin O’Connell, and Cousins made note of some of the other top Vikings players when asked about the MVP predictions.
“It’s about the Vikings as a team being in a good place (and) they’re excited about (running back) Dalvin Cook and (wide receivers) Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson and (edge rushers) Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter,” Cousins said. “I know that, for me, team is how I’m able to have success at the quarterback position.
“(Winning the MVP is) the farthest thing from our minds. The Green Bay Packers and finding a way to beat them is really all that we’re focused on.”
The Vikings open the season against the Packers at 3:25 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Cousins is fired up about going against the rival that has won four straight NFC North titles.
“It sure (would be) great to get out with a win, to get the wind at your back, especially at home, a divisional opponent,” he said. “It’s a good challenge for us.”
With the exception of 2020, when the preseason was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, this will mark the first time in his 11-year NFL career that Cousins has entered a regular season without getting a single exhibition game snap. The Vikings, wanting to keep players healthy, rested a number of top starters in the preseason.
“(Cousins has) gotten a month-plus of reps against a similar defensive structure,” O’Connell said about both the Vikings and the Packers playing a 3-4 scheme. “Obviously, I think if you could tell me right now that we’d be able to get him out there in all of the preseason games and get him safely off the field after getting some snaps, we’d all sign up for that.
“But I think the way we’ve challenged Kirk to practice, the way we’ve got the 80-plus reps against (San Francisco in joint practices), I think the way we’ve gotten a lot of scrimmage-esque type of routes (has helped). … And then obviously Kirk’s played a lot of football at this point in his career. … Will there be some butterflies and things early in the game for all of us?’ Probably. But I think Kirk will be just fine.”
Cousins also looked at the advantages and disadvantages of not playing in the preseason.
“The pros are obviously you’re standing here healthy,” he said. “The con would be that you don’t get that rep and that experience.”
In 2020, Cousins completed 19 of 25 passes for 259 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a 43-34 loss to Green Bay in Week 1. Cousins said it wasn’t a “a big sticking point” not having any preseason action then and that he mostly remembers the eeriness of the game played before no fans at U.S. Bank Stadium.
In that game, Rodgers didn’t miss a beat, completing 32 of 44 passes for 364 yards with four touchdowns. He went on to win his third of four NFL MVP awards that season.
In 2021, Rodgers again didn’t play in the preseason and he won his latest MVP. But that time he didn’t tear it up in Week 1, completing just 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards with two interceptions in a 38-3 loss to New Orleans.
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.