Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Kirk Cousins Focuses on Present; Looking Forward to Play Caller Continuity

EAGAN, Minn. – Kirk Cousins' focus this offseason?

The present and doing everything he can each day with the goal of winning football games this fall.

The Vikings quarterback spoke to media members Wednesday at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, where he'd recently finished an on-field workout on a (long-awaited in Minnesota) spring day.

"Good to be back in the facility and around all the guys," Cousins said. "I think the longer you play, the more you remember that being with your teammates, with your buddies, is such a great part of this job. It's been fun to see everyone again, laugh and just have fun doing it."

View photos of Vikings players during offseason workouts at the TCO Performance Center.

Cousins is entering his sixth season with the Vikings.

It marks his first season in Minnesota, though, where free agency potentially looms on the other side.

Cousins was asked by reporters about not reaching an extension agreement with the team this offseason.

"You know, I think in this league, there should never be entitlement. You've always gotta go play, and teams can do whatever they want to do. That's their prerogative," he said. "You just go to work the best you can, and I'm encouraged and excited because I do think I have a lot of good football ahead of me, so I've gotta go out there and earn that. But I feel positive about the future looking forward."

Though it's an uncertain situation, it's not one Cousins is unfamiliar with.

He recalled his time in high school back in Holland, Michigan, where during his senior year he hadn't received any college scholarship offers. Cousins said Holland Sentinel reporters repeatedly questioned how he could focus on the season while next steps were up in the air.

Then at Michigan State (he received a scholarship, by the way), Cousins heard the same questions a year ahead of the NFL Draft. "How can you focus on this season?"

He's always answered those questions the same way: "Just go win football games, and good things will happen."

"This is my fourth time in this league going into a season with free agency on the horizon – my fourth year after my rookie contract, the two years in Washington after that and then this," Cousins said. "It's more the norm than the exception. I think the exception is that you have something penciled in for future years. Most of our locker has no idea what's coming in three or four months, let alone three or four years or next year.

"I feel like I'm one of the guys, like we're all in this together, that's the way this thing works, and I think it's part of what makes this league great," Cousins added with a smile. "Because everybody has an edge. Everybody's working, everybody's got something to prove. Nobody can operate with entitlement or comfort or put in less than their best, and I think that's the best thing about our league."

Cousins has plenty to be optimistic about with the season ahead – especially the fact that it marks Year 2 in Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips' system. The QB up until now has had a different play caller in his ear every season in Minnesota.

He doesn't take for granted how much of advantage that provides when tackling spring and summer workouts, installs and practices.

Cousins noted he could "run plays on air" during Wednesday's session.

"Last year they had to 'hold my hand' to call the play, where it was like, 'I don't even know how to say this play. When you call it, I can't see it in my head, so I can't call it.' So to be able to have the play come in and just – boom! – call two plays in the huddle and let's go. It's just night and day from last year," Cousins said. "So you'd like to think that starting in a much further spot in May advances everything – to August, to September, you're just more comfortable."

View the best photos of Vikings QB Kirk Cousins from the 2022 season.

The benefit can extend to everyone on the offense.

Right tackle Brian O'Neill, who is rehabbing an Achilles injury suffered in Week 17 at Green Bay, described the benefit of continuity for the offensive line as well.

"We've kind of talked about in the o-line room, the linebackers might fall back a little bit more, or they might play front side a little bit more based on different things they see with their eyes," O'Neill said. "We're talking about that differently this year than we were last year, when we were talking about 'This is this play. This is who you have on this play; now run it.'

"Now this year, the next step is, 'OK, what does the defense see? How is this different from the other scheme that we run that looks similar, and how does it look different to them? How are they going to react? And what's the next understanding for us?' There's a deeper understanding of the intricacies [of the offense] for us," he added.

Cousins said he thinks "it's important to still have an edge in your work."

"But you can also take some encouragement in the fact that time on task together is good," Cousins said. "Having somebody in my helmet for the second year in a row, I'm really encouraged by, because there had always been that change. And while the system was many times staying similar, a different voice in front of the room, a different voice in your helmet, certainly there's still changes there. I think that's positive, too, to build that rapport with Kevin."

As Cousins heads into the 2023 season, he isn't focused on what's beyond that.

He stressed the importance of staying where his feet are.

"I just think it's healthiest to be present, to be focused on Phase 2 [of Organized Team Activities], Wednesday, and live right now in the moment," Cousins said. "When you do that and you do it day after day, you get to next February and you say, 'Everything will work out,' and it's best to just stay in the present to have March go the way you want it to go."

While Cousins can't predict what this next football season will bring, he is certain about one thing: he wants to remain a Minnesota Viking.

"I want to be in Minnesota," he said. "That's kind of a no-brainer, so hopefully we can earn the right to do that. I've always said that. When I say I would like to be in Minnesota, there's a lot of things I would like to have, but you've got to go earn it. That's kind of where I'm at."