The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

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The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by J. Kapp 11 » Sat Nov 06, 2021 9:47 am

Lots of times when I start a thread, I ask a question as a way of getting a conversation going.

This time, I'm going to write an opinion article. Do with it what you will.

Here's the premise: The toxic relationship between Mike Zimmer and Kirk Cousins is killing this team.

From the beginning, this was never going to work.

Mike Zimmer is an old-school, no-nonsense, in-your-face kind of coach. He's essentially an a$$hole, in a positive way, if that's possible. He's going to coach you up by testing your manhood. He's going to give it to you straight. He's going to be up your butt when you screw up. And he's NEVER, EVER going to praise you, even if you deserve it. Basically, if he says nothing, you know you're good.

Kirk Cousins, on the other hand, appears to be a person who doesn't deal with that kind of coaching. In many ways, he's a forerunner to kids of today. Coddled. Constantly praised. All about self-esteem. Cousins needs positive reinforcement. He needs to feel appreciated. He's physically and intellectually gifted, but mentally and psychologically weak. Look at the OCs he's had in the past. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay love the guy. They said it all the time, and they continue to say it. Klint Kubiak seems to be afraid of Zimmer (or he's in lock-step with him, given the Zimmer family/Kubiak family buddy-buddy relationship). Kirk has nobody in his corner. His teammates try, but they're not Dad. Dad doesn't love Kirk, and Kirk knows it.

Put the two together, and you have a train wreck.

Cousins is already risk-averse. Zimmer says, "Don't you dare turn the ball over."

Cousins needs to have things mapped out. Zimmer discourages going off-script.

Cousins shies away from real authority and leadership, which you NEED in a quarterback. Zimmer's not about to give it to him.

It just doesn't work.

Let's use the dumpster fire sequence at the end of the first half against Dallas as an example. Cousins drops back to pass, sees nobody open, finds a running lane, and takes off. He gains a decent chunk of yardage, then goes down in the middle of the field. The clock is running ... 24 ... 23 ... 22. Somebody call timeout! He gets up, looks around, doesn't seem to know what to do ... 21 ... 20 ... 19 ... 18. Players are scrambling to get back to the line of scrimmage and get in a formation ... 17 ... 16 ...15 ...14. Cut to Zimmer on the sideline, who's standing there looking like, "What the hell is Cousins doing?" ... 13 ... 12 ... 11 ... 10. Somebody's lined up wrong, so Cousins moves him ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5. Cousins drops back and throws incomplete.

One second. Kneel down. Still a timeout on the board. Fans boo the Vikings off the field.

Fast forward to the postgame press conference. Here's Kirk:
I just let Zim handle the timeouts, because I never know quite what the coaches want to do with what they're thinking, a play ahead or what that may be. So I was just gonna let them handle that and call the next play if we're not getting it.
That one comment sums up the toxic relationship between coach and player.

Kirk Cousins is a 10-year veteran. He's being paid $35 million to quarterback the Minnesota Vikings. He's the on-field leader of this football team. And HE DOESN'T APPEAR TO HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO CALL A TIMEOUT IN A 2-MINUTE DRILL!!!!!

Blame whomever you want. Zimmer should make that clear. Cousins should be less of a coward. Whatever. But ask yourself one very simple question.

Could you ever, in a million years, imagine Russell Wilson saying something like that?

Why do I use Russell Wilson as an example? Because for one, he's great in late-game situations. For another, he was drafted in 2012, the exact same year Kirk Cousins was drafted. And it's not like he was the top overall pick in the draft. Wilson went in the third round. Cousins the fourth. Yet I'm pretty sure that Russell Wilson knows he can call a timeout. Cousins doesn't.

Here's the other thing. Quarterbacks who have reputations as good leaders typically use a simple formula in press conferences: Shoulder blame, spread the credit. What did Cousins do? Threw his coach under the bus. Can't say as I blame him, but it highlights the total and complete lack of respect the two have for one another. Zimmer, for his part, called it a "miscommunication," adding that Cousins can call timeouts. Blame for blame.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys, with an absolute nobody at quarterback, went out and played like they had nothing to lose. In fact, they used their quarterback in the way the Vikings should have used Kirk Cousins, while the Vikings used Kirk Cousins in the way you would have thought the Cowboys would use Cooper Rush.

There are all kinds of relationships within a team. Some work, some don't. But the ONE RELATIONSHIP THAT MUST WORK is the one between COACH and QUARTERBACK. In the case of Zimmer and Cousins, it has never worked.

The infuriating thing is that the Vikings could have fixed this. After the 2019 season was the time to do it. Yes, the Vikings had just gone 10-6. Yes, they had beaten New Orleans on the road in the playoffs. But they also had some decisions to make. Kirk Cousins was entering the last year of his contract. Mike Zimmer was, too. The Vikings could have fixed this issue right then and there. Management — read: Rick Spielman — should have understood that Zimmer and Cousins were oil and water. If they were going to extend Cousins, they should have fired Zimmer. If they were going to go with Zimmer, they shouldn't have extended Cousins. Instead, they extended BOTH.

Now we're left with the aftermath. Our team has an incredibly talented offense that can't get out of its own way. An offense that is built for explosion, yet plays with such fear of risk that Kirk Cousins averaged FOUR YARDS per air throw against Dallas, while Cooper Freaking Rush averaged 10.

After this season (maybe sooner) one or both of them needs to be gone. I've gone back and forth as to which one, but at least one of them needs to be shown the door. Here are the options, in no particular order.

– Dump Cousins and keep Zimmer ... get him a game-manager quarterback he can live with ... maybe bring Teddy back.
– Dump Zimmer and get Cousins somebody who will utilize his talents and give him the love he craves ... maybe the aforementioned Kellen Moore, or perhaps Byron Leftwich, who is widely regarded by players and coaches alike as a brilliant offensive mind.
– Dump them both.

But do SOMETHING Vikings. Because your fanbase is about to implode into a serious mutiny. We've been with you through some pretty dark and ridiculous times. We deserve better than a coach and a quarterback who hate each other's guts.

Thanks for reading.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by J. Kapp 11 » Sat Nov 06, 2021 10:40 am

Allow me to add this wonderful nugget.

It is my belief — and certainly the belief of many of you — that Mike Zimmer never wanted Kirk Cousins.

Here's the proof. It's Mike Zimmer in March of 2018 at the NFL combine, just before the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins.
It's important for myself and Rick and the organization to pick the right guy that is going to help us continue to move forward. If we don't do that, then I'll probably be fired.
Wow, was that ever prophetic.

He added this nugget:
You just have to pick out the right quarterback that's going to help your football team the best. And where you can still do things at other positions. You don't want to go crazy here.
Mike Zimmer never wanted to spend big bucks on a quarterback. He wanted resources for his defense. As proof, here's more from Zimmer in the same press conference:
We've won 40 games in the last four years because we've had a good football team, and I want to make sure with our team that we continue to build and improve, continually improve on defense. They told me today ... we're 30-4 when we score 21 points, so it's important that we don't lose the defensive part of the game because we keep the game close. So all these things become a factor.
Isn't it obvious? Mike Zimmer never wanted Kirk Cousins.

If any of you have ever been in a work environment where you knew your boss didn't want you, then you know what that's like. Basically, you have no chance. Cousins isn't perfect. But he's been set up to fail from the beginning. Add in his skittish, I need to be loved personality, and you've got a mess.

The Vikings HAVE to break up this less-than-dynamic duo.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by StanM » Sat Nov 06, 2021 10:57 am

I have been thinking pretty much the same thing as I watch this season unfold. It’s obvious they don’t get along and the restraints Zim has on Cousins is spilling over to the receivers and everyone else. I hate to think that a personality conflict is undermining the whole team but there was a cohesiveness with this team that went away with the arrival of Kirk. When we lured him here with the big bucks it felt like the missing piece and since then it feels like the distractions have become overwhelming.

The question becomes if we were winning those close games would we be holding the team under the same microscope? Probably not but based on past experience with this team dating back to game one in 1961 I see a full meltdown. I think at this point in history offense has become the most important side of the ball. We’re trying to win 2021 shootouts by playing 1970’s football and it’s not working. This defense is aging out so there needs to be changes. With that said I follow the Vikings regardless of their record so my emphasis has gone from how great the potential looked to watching the train wreck unfold and seeing how they’re going to fix it.

I think this post makes a good point. While these two are engaged in their passive aggressive conflict everything is falling apart around them. Grab the popcorn and beer and sit back, it’s about to get interesting.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by chicagopurple » Sat Nov 06, 2021 11:55 am

Good Professional Coaches and QBs adapt and learn. These 2 buffoons are amateurish jerks...and perpetual failures. End of Story.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by Bowhunting Viking » Sat Nov 06, 2021 12:17 pm

Kapp you perfectly nailed it in every point you made. I believe that almost all ... if not all... of us here felt right from the get go that Cousins was NOT the QB that Zim wanted at all.
Oil and water is the perfect description to use for their toxic relationship.
Its funny because from their very first visit , the difference in the two was glaringly obvious. I remember Zim talking about how he wanted Cousins to drink some red wine with him and Kirk passed. I remember Zim jokingly ( well maybe jokingly), mocking Cousins for the fact that he didn't drink alcohol. Just the first indication of the absolute difference in the 2.
There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Cousins is scared to death of the wrath of Zim and it handcuffs everything he does on the field. All the way down to calling TOs when he knows they are needed.
Can anybody here imagine Brady letting precious time click off the clock and bypassing a scoring opportunity because of a fear of pissing off his coach. Remember in the Super Bowl last year when Leftwich called in a play, Brady knew it wouldn't work and looked over and yelled NO NO NO... and then called his play, which ended up being a TD to Gronk. Cousins doesn't have the freedom, or the balls , to do anything like that.
I agree something seriously needs to change or we will be mired in the quicksand for seasons to come.
I used to really like Zim as a HC. I've watched way too many clock management debacles, mistakes, horrible game plans yadda yadda yadda to still feel the man has any business being a HC, let alone OUR HC.
I just hope that the Wilfs will wisen up and make the right decision to put a winning team on the field.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by CharVike » Sat Nov 06, 2021 3:39 pm

Bradshaw distanced himself from Noll after retired from his playing career, and skipped out on the latter's funeral, a decision he does not regret. Bradshaw attributes their strained relationship on a clash of styles and Noll's inability to “handle” the then young passer.
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Those two hated each other. They only won 4 Super Bowls. Of course the excuse will be it's old school. The big difference is Noll was a smart football guy. He knew Bradshaw strengths and used them well. He let him air it out or play hand off / dump off guy to Harris or whatever was working. He didn't dictate. Last week was just checkdown after checkdown and it continue because that is what Zim wanted. He told captain checkdown don't throw down field. Take the easy stuff and stay clean. That's bull #### football. As Patterson said in his press conference that's playing "not to lose." That's Zim's style. We have a year and one half of this loser chekdown guy make he stands there and throws downfield. Take every dump off out off the lineup. Send Cook deeper also.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by S197 » Sat Nov 06, 2021 3:51 pm

What was equally as bad on that drive before halftime was when Cousins finally snaps the ball, he basically throws it about 5 yards or so. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he really had no control over the timeout and was waiting for someone on the sidelines or in the booth to make a decision. He still has controls over his eyeballs doesn’t he? He knows there’s 5 seconds left on a running clock, ball on the MIN 34, what in the hell is a short out route to Thielen going to do? Even if Thielen catches it the half is over. He’s literally checking down in a situation where there is no logical reason to do so. His situational awareness is so bad he can’t even figure out this is a Hail Mary play on his own.

Anyway, back to topic. If the Cousins/Zimmer relationship is toxic it begs the question, why the extension? If Zimmer doesn’t want to dedicate a ton of resources to the QB position, Cousins lacks the leadership skills, etc. what makes Rick go, “Nah, things are going great. Let me give this guy another 3 years with a nice fat $45 million at the end that’s basically going to be guaranteed barring injury.”

To be clear, I’m not doubting the hypothesis, there’s a lot of evidence Kirk and Zimmer haven’t had the best relationship. But I think it also casts doubt on the GM/HC relationship. Who the heck is running things in this organization? That halftime drive is a perfect analogy for this team. A bunch of experienced leaders sitting around and waiting for the other guy to make a decision.

They all need to go.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by CharVike » Sat Nov 06, 2021 4:07 pm

S197 wrote:
Sat Nov 06, 2021 3:51 pm
What was equally as bad on that drive before halftime was when Cousins finally snaps the ball, he basically throws it about 5 yards or so. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he really had no control over the timeout and was waiting for someone on the sidelines or in the booth to make a decision. He still has controls over his eyeballs doesn’t he? He knows there’s 5 seconds left on a running clock, ball on the MIN 34, what in the hell is a short out route to Thielen going to do? Even if Thielen catches it the half is over. He’s literally checking down in a situation where there is no logical reason to do so. His situational awareness is so bad he can’t even figure out this is a Hail Mary play on his own.

Anyway, back to topic. If the Cousins/Zimmer relationship is toxic it begs the question, why the extension? If Zimmer doesn’t want to dedicate a ton of resources to the QB position, Cousins lacks the leadership skills, etc. what makes Rick go, “Nah, things are going great. Let me give this guy another 3 years with a nice fat $45 million at the end that’s basically going to be guaranteed barring injury.”

To be clear, I’m not doubting the hypothesis, there’s a lot of evidence Kirk and Zimmer haven’t had the best relationship. But I think it also casts doubt on the GM/HC relationship. Who the heck is running things in this organization? That halftime drive is a perfect analogy for this team. A bunch of experienced leaders sitting around and waiting for the other guy to make a decision.

They all need to go.
Rick had no choice. There aren't a bunch of QBs out there even at our guys level waiting to play. Waiting for a phone call. We have two guys on the bench right now and they both suck. That's bad roster management. We missed a guy in the draft because of Rick's lack of QB knowledge. I highly doubt Rick and Zim have a great relationship because it appears Cousins was Rick's signing and it's not what Zim wanted. But Rick needs to go. That is step 1. The rest is step 2. That needs to happen right after the last game. Rick out new guy in. No waiting. The off season is short.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by CharVike » Sat Nov 06, 2021 4:12 pm

CharVike wrote:
Sat Nov 06, 2021 4:07 pm
S197 wrote:
Sat Nov 06, 2021 3:51 pm
What was equally as bad on that drive before halftime was when Cousins finally snaps the ball, he basically throws it about 5 yards or so. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he really had no control over the timeout and was waiting for someone on the sidelines or in the booth to make a decision. He still has controls over his eyeballs doesn’t he? He knows there’s 5 seconds left on a running clock, ball on the MIN 34, what in the hell is a short out route to Thielen going to do? Even if Thielen catches it the half is over. He’s literally checking down in a situation where there is no logical reason to do so. His situational awareness is so bad he can’t even figure out this is a Hail Mary play on his own.

Anyway, back to topic. If the Cousins/Zimmer relationship is toxic it begs the question, why the extension? If Zimmer doesn’t want to dedicate a ton of resources to the QB position, Cousins lacks the leadership skills, etc. what makes Rick go, “Nah, things are going great. Let me give this guy another 3 years with a nice fat $45 million at the end that’s basically going to be guaranteed barring injury.”

To be clear, I’m not doubting the hypothesis, there’s a lot of evidence Kirk and Zimmer haven’t had the best relationship. But I think it also casts doubt on the GM/HC relationship. Who the heck is running things in this organization? That halftime drive is a perfect analogy for this team. A bunch of experienced leaders sitting around and waiting for the other guy to make a decision.

They all need to go.
Rick had no choice. There aren't a bunch of QBs out there even at our guys level waiting to play. Waiting for a phone call. We have two guys on the bench right now and they both suck. That's bad roster management. We missed a guy in the draft because of Rick's lack of QB knowledge. I highly doubt Rick and Zim have a great relationship because it appears Cousins was Rick's signing and it's not what Zim wanted. But Rick needs to go. That is step 1. The rest is step 2. That needs to happen right after the last game. Rick out new guy in. No waiting. The off season is short.
Cousins said the hell with this game. I'm doing exactly what I'm told. Keep it clean. Whoever heard of a starting QB not being able to call time out. That's a simple task except for Zim.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by StumpHunter » Sat Nov 06, 2021 9:01 pm

CharVike wrote:
Sat Nov 06, 2021 4:12 pm
CharVike wrote:
Sat Nov 06, 2021 4:07 pm

Rick had no choice. There aren't a bunch of QBs out there even at our guys level waiting to play. Waiting for a phone call. We have two guys on the bench right now and they both suck. That's bad roster management. We missed a guy in the draft because of Rick's lack of QB knowledge. I highly doubt Rick and Zim have a great relationship because it appears Cousins was Rick's signing and it's not what Zim wanted. But Rick needs to go. That is step 1. The rest is step 2. That needs to happen right after the last game. Rick out new guy in. No waiting. The off season is short.
Cousins said the hell with this game. I'm doing exactly what I'm told. Keep it clean. Whoever heard of a starting QB not being able to call time out. That's a simple task except for Zim.
Where does Cousins say he is not allowed to call a timeout?
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by 808vikingsfan » Sun Nov 07, 2021 3:20 am

Cousins attitude has always been "I just work here."

and to be fair to Zimmer, what coach could get along with a nut case like Cousins?

I miss the bromance days of Teddy-Zimmer, Thielen-Diggs.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by CharVike » Sun Nov 07, 2021 6:09 am

StumpHunter wrote:
Sat Nov 06, 2021 9:01 pm
CharVike wrote:
Sat Nov 06, 2021 4:12 pm

Cousins said the hell with this game. I'm doing exactly what I'm told. Keep it clean. Whoever heard of a starting QB not being able to call time out. That's a simple task except for Zim.
Where does Cousins say he is not allowed to call a timeout?
Kirk Cousins on the situation at the end of the first half where 20 seconds ran off the clock: "I just let Zim handle the timeouts because I never know quite what the coaches want to do with that."

— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) November 1, 2021
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by StumpHunter » Sun Nov 07, 2021 7:00 am

CharVike wrote:
Sun Nov 07, 2021 6:09 am
StumpHunter wrote:
Sat Nov 06, 2021 9:01 pm

Where does Cousins say he is not allowed to call a timeout?
Kirk Cousins on the situation at the end of the first half where 20 seconds ran off the clock: "I just let Zim handle the timeouts because I never know quite what the coaches want to do with that."

— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) November 1, 2021
Yes I have read that quote that is not saying he isn't allowed to call timeouts.

He is saying he doesn't know what his coach wants, playing into the title of this thread and throwing the coaching staff under the bus for his screw up. It was their screw up as well no doubt, but he 100% is allowed to call timeouts and has done it multiple times as a Viking.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by makila » Sun Nov 07, 2021 12:32 pm

Agree with a lot of the OP.

It is a bad fit. Zimmer didn't want it (I've heard all the same old presses that were dug up this week too with the same sound clips Kapp linked/quoted). That's why I get so frustrated with the front office. You have a coach and QB you've paired, who don't get along, haven't shown any ability to work on it, and you extend them. What did they think was going to happen? All of a sudden the old HC and the vet QB were both going to change? Nah. Once they committed to the QB with the money they did it changed how we could build the team, which has caught up. We also failed to build a complimentary roster to what the high dollar QB needs.

It's messed up on the macro level right now, let alone the fine details.

It isn't a good fit. People need to go their separate ways. It happens in life. Let all parties move on.
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Re: The Toxic Zimmer/Cousins Relationship

Post by TSonn » Mon Nov 08, 2021 9:03 am

StumpHunter wrote:
Sun Nov 07, 2021 7:00 am
CharVike wrote:
Sun Nov 07, 2021 6:09 am

Kirk Cousins on the situation at the end of the first half where 20 seconds ran off the clock: "I just let Zim handle the timeouts because I never know quite what the coaches want to do with that."

— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) November 1, 2021
Yes I have read that quote that is not saying he isn't allowed to call timeouts.

He is saying he doesn't know what his coach wants, playing into the title of this thread and throwing the coaching staff under the bus for his screw up. It was their screw up as well no doubt, but he 100% is allowed to call timeouts and has done it multiple times as a Viking.
Zimmer also said this at his press conference the same day:

"All timeouts should go through me."

Put Zim's comment and Kirk's comment together and Kirk was trying to be Minnesota-nice (or Michigan-nice) for - "Zimmer doesn't let me call timeouts so it's his fault".

I've mentioned this before but you seemed to ignore it last time and again didn't include it here in your defense of Zimmer.
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