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Zimmer: Vikings Offense Will Do 'What Cousins Does Best'

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has spent the past few days at the Annual League Meeting in Orlando surrounded by head coaches and general managers from all 32 NFL teams.

But there were a few people Zimmer specifically wanted to chat with regarding Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Both Rams head coach Sean McVay and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan — two men who were both the offensive coordinator for Cousins when was in Washington — had glowing things to say about him.

And based off those conversations, Zimmer believes Cousins will be a perfect fit in Minnesota.

"I don't think it will be a very steep learning curve. He's a very smart kid and is very, very detailed," Zimmer said of Cousins. "People I've talked to … I talked to Sean McVay [on Monday], I talked to Kyle Shanahan a little bit [Monday] … these guys just rave about him."

Cousins and the Vikings agreed to a three-year deal two weeks ago.

But how will the quarterback fit it with the Vikings offense?

It's a unit that features a bevy of skill players including wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray.

Zimmer said he believes Minnesota's offense in 2018 will keep a lot of the same plays that it ran in 2017, when the Vikings ranked 10th with 23.9 points per game and were 11th in yards per game (356.9).

If anything, Zimmer said, the Vikings will tweak some scheme tendencies to fit the strengths of Cousins.

"I think it's going to be similar. We're keeping a lot of the same terminology so the rest of the players don't have to learn," Zimmer said. "But we're going to do what Cousins does best. He's the most important player, really, on the offense.

"So we have to figure out what he does well, what he feels comfortable with and kind of move from there," Zimmer added. "I don't anticipate it being a lot different but there's going to be some differences, probably because of him and probably because of what [Vikings Offensive Coordinator John] DeFilippo wants to do."

Zimmer said Tuesday morning that he and the Vikings staff already has somewhat of an idea of what Cousins does well.

The quarterback has gone up against Zimmer's defense in each of the past two seasons, scoring 56 total points in those two games. Cousins threw for a combined 589 yards and three scores with one interception, and also scored two of the 10 rushing touchdowns allowed by Minnesota in 2017.

"I think he does a great job of seeing the field," Zimmer said. "I think he does a great job of moving from one side to the other with his eyes and going on to different reads. I think he's excellent in play action.

"Every time we've played against him, he's been good in play action," Zimmer added. "I think when he gets around our team, his competitive nature and the rest of our team are going to jell pretty good.

And speaking of DeFilippo, whom the Vikings hired in January, Zimmer said both he and Cousins will work close together this spring to figure out which parts of the offense fit Cousins' skill set.

Zimmer said he expects there to be plenty of dialogue between the two first-year Minnesotans.

"I think it will take some time, but they're both very intelligent guys," Zimmer said. "I think they've had good communication so far, but it will take some time, just like it does with everybody.

"I think it's going to work out good. 'Flip' has done a great job, in his career, with quarterbacks," Zimmer added. "Kirk will be a guy that has a lot of questions, from everybody that I talked to, so I think it will be good. 'Flip' will have the answers for him, and I think they'll get along great."

Time will tell whether the results [and wins] come for Cousins in the Vikings. But as Zimmer alluded to Tuesday, everything will be done to help make the quarterback's skill set stand out in Minnesota.

"I don't think the learning curve will be big, but it's important for us as coaches to do what he does best," Zimmer said. "I've always said your offense should be what the quarterback does best.

"Obviously we have the playbook and installation, but that can all go out the window when we get to know what he's doing and what he feels comfortable with," Zimmer added. "You don't pay a guy all that money to try and fit him in a square hole."

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