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Galina: Kirk Cousins is a dark horse MVP candidate after the Vikings fortified their offensive line through the 2021 NFL Draft

Dec 20, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

One day, the prophecy will be fulfilled and Kirk Cousins will win NFL MVP or the Super Bowl. Considering how many average quarterbacks we’ve seen flirt with the award during the season and the recent Super Bowl signal-callers no longer starting for the teams they took to the big game, Cousins will come out on top one of these years.

We treat the Minnesota Vikings quarterback as one of these Jared Goff or Jimmy Garoppolo types, but in reality, he has been much better, consistently ranking in the top 10 in a number of traditional and advanced statistics each year.

Moreover, the Vikings' offense has been very good the past two seasons. The Minnesota passing offense was the fourth-most efficient attack in the league in 2019 and the 10th-most efficient last season. Yet, in Cousins' three years with the Vikings, they’ve been to the playoffs only once and won one game. How is this possible?

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If we look at all the quarterbacks who have taken at least 1,500 snaps over the past three seasons, Cousins ranks seventh in PFF grade, at 88.7. That’s borderline elite, if not firmly elite. The biggest difference is that the quarterbacks who rank in front of Cousins win games. A lot of them.

Meanwhile, Cousins is 25-21-1 in the regular season for the Vikings. Patrick Mahomes is 37-8, Tom Brady is 34-14, Drew Brees is 30-8, Aaron Rodgers is 32-15-1, Russell Wilson is 33-15 and Deshaun Watson is 25-22. How is it possible that those guys have such better records than Cousins when the Vikings quarterback is not far from them statistically?

Quarterback PFF Grade Record
Patrick Mahomes 94.2 37-8
Drew Brees 93.6 30-8
Aaron Rodgers 93.4 32-15-1
Russell Wilson 93.3 33-15
Tom Brady 93.0 34-14
Deshaun Watson 91.9 25-22
Kirk Cousins 88.7 25-21-1

I believe that there is a universe — and for my sake, I hope it’s this one — where Kirk Cousins and the Vikings have a season where everything works in harmony and he leads his team to at least the NFC Championship game or wins the MVP award. The Vikings have done everything right the past two offseasons to support Cousins, and now he must repay them.

Why Cousins has struggled to win games

During the 2021 NFL Draft, it looked like the Vikings finally made a conscious decision to fix their offensive line. Cousins is a technician without any real mobility, and it leads to him being sacked as much as anyone in the league. He's played behind one porous offensive line after another. The Vikings' line has ranked 30th in cumulative pass-block grade over the past three regular seasons. That’s bad.

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