Kirk Cousins Named ‘Dark Horse’ MVP Candidate for 2022
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins will enter his fifth stint for the team in 2022, the team’s longest-serving QB1 since Daunte Culpepper in the early 2000s.
With Cousins, the Vikings are 33-29-1 (.531), a disappointing win-loss split, as Cousins is generally one of the 10 highest-paid players in the NFL.
But that record was set with former head coach Mike Zimmer, who dreamed up defensive operations first for eight seasons at Minnesota. Zimmer and his boss, Rick Spielman, were fired after a disappointing 8-9 season in 2021, and Kevin O’Connell was hired to lead life after Zimmer.
Perhaps with an attack-minded skipper in O’Connell, the Vikings offense will peak. It’s the working theory anyway, as Cousins is armed with the likes of Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Irv Smith Jr., KJ Osborn – and O’Connell’s mastermind.
And a Cousins’ rise to stardom isn’t entirely out of the question, says an NFL analyst Kyle Brandt from NFL Network. Brandt and his co-hosts have selected “dark horse” MVP candidates for 2022, and by Brandt, he envisions a scenario where Cousins emerges as a contender for the prestigious trophy.
Unsurprisingly, all of the theories listed by NFL Network are quarterbacks. A non-quarterback hasn’t won the award since a Viking in 2012 — Adrian Peterson for his otherworldly campaign a decade ago.
Sports betting isn’t high on Cousins - or any of the four men above – to win the MVP award, however. By VegasInsider.comCousins is the 18th most likely player to win the 2022 NFL MVP award with a +5000 money line, the same odds as Trey Lance (who has never started a regular season game) and Jones of the aforementioned New England.
The number of cousins in the past is certainly consistent with Brandt’s hypothesis. Last season, he scored 33 touchdowns to 7 interceptions, the same stat line Brett Favre produced during the Vikings’ 2009 season. With no playoff appearance or victory, however, Cousins’ 2021 stats have been swept under the rug as meaningless.
Also, Cousins will need at least average pass protection from his offensive line this season if he wants to apply Brandt’s theory. In Cousins’ Vikings career, the best offensive line group assigned to him is 27th in the league via pass blocking. And that’s the code for the sixth worst.
Pass protection will be mandatory if Cousins wants an individual award and the Vikings want to reach the playoffs for the first time in three years. Luckily for the sake of Cousins, new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed Jesse Davis (MIA), Chris Reed (IND), Austin Schlottmann (DEN) and drafted Ed Ingram (LSU) to remedy the long-standing illnesses of the OL.
If the pass protection isn’t horrible, Cousins will indeed have a chance to punch at the MVP award.
A Vikings quarterback won MVP material once – Fran Tarkenton 47 years ago (1975).
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube channel, VikesNow. He host a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, airing every Wednesday with Raun Saw and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Guilty pleasures listed: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, “The Sopranos” and The Doors (the band).