EAGAN, Minn. — The driveway is better than the hotel parking lot, even if the garage door won’t close.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said he feels more settled at the unofficial start to the 2019 season than this time a year ago when the ink on his three-year contract was fresh.
“I think like any of you who have worked somewhere for several years, your second year was … more comfortable than your first year,” Cousins said Tuesday during a session with media members at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
“I don’t know how to articulate that, but I think whatever the words are that would sum that up is what I feel going into Year 2,” Cousins added. “I didn’t leave the TownePlace Suites this morning. I left my house. Still trying to get my garage door fixed … I couldn’t get my garage door to go down as I backed out … but I’m settled, and I think that helps.”
Cousins said he believes that being more settled “can help with leadership and your command of the offense and the ability to play at a high level and then ultimately win, which is always really nice.”
Even though the Vikings have made multiple changes to the offensive coaching staff, Cousins is finding familiarity.
Minnesota promoted Kevin Stefanski, who began last season as quarterbacks coach and finished as interim offensive coordinator, to the OC role. The Vikings also brought in Gary Kubiak as an Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor and Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison
Kubiak has strong ties to Mike Shanahan, who was the head coach when Washington drafted Cousins in 2012, and many believe that elements of that system could be blended into Stefanski’s plans for 2019.
The Vikings want to improve their run production and their effectiveness in using play-action passing, marrying the run and pass games.
Cousins on Monday tweeted a picture of the playbook that was waiting for him and the offensive players upon their arrival.
Asked Tuesday about his approach to working his way through the book, he said, “The same way you eat an elephant, one bite at a time, right?
“You just start on page 1 and flip the page once you feel like you have a feel for it. Then you make a list of questions as you go through it, and you know you’ll get your questions answered. The meeting time is very helpful, the reps on the field are very helpful … and then we go back after practice to go watch them on film.”
Cousins said the opportunity for reviews of film and an ongoing conversation “reinforces what you’re trying to learn. And those reps on the field are so important, they just build the foundation.”
The eight-year pro recalled the challenges from this time a year ago after spending his first six seasons with Washington.
“I feel like last year at this week, I was having a hard time spitting out a play in the huddle, it was so foreign,” Cousins said. “You leave in mid-June to go home for the summer and it feels pretty comfortable. Then halfway through training camp you feel like you really own it. And you saw the first four weeks of the year last season with what we were able to do with me being in a brand-new offense.”
Eventually the information becomes ingrained.
Cousins said “parallels and carryover to previous years of offense” has accelerated his announcement of plays.
“I think that’s gotta help as we look forward to the end or minicamp and training camp and Week 1,” Cousins said. “I think it helps me get on a faster learning curve.”
In addition to familiarity with the scheme, Cousins will have the benefit of having played with his starting receivers, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, tight end Kyle Rudolph and running back Dalvin Cook.