After firing of John DeFilippo, Kirk Cousins says he takes ownership for Vikings' offensive struggles

Earlier this week, the Minnesota Vikings fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, whom they'd hired this past offseason to take over the reins from Pat Shurmur, who left the team to become the head coach of the New York Giants. DeFilippo had spent the previous season as the quarterbacks coach for the Super Bowl champion Eagles, and received a decent share of the credit for his work with Carson Wentz and later Nick Foles. Doug Pederson got the lion's share, of course, and Frank Reich (who was later named head coach of the Colts) got some as well, but DeFilippo was highly thought of after such a good season, and was a sought-after coordinator choice. 

Not even a full season later, he's gone. The Vikings, even after signing Kirk Cousins to replace Case Keenum, saw their offense stagnate this season. They rank 17th in yards, 20th in points, and 18th in Football Outsiders' offensive DVOA after checking in 11th, 10th, and fifth in the same categories a year ago, despite working without Dalvin Cook for most of the season and being quarterbacked by Keenum rather than Cousins. 

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And so, DeFilippo got the axe after a particularly uninspiring offensive performance against the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. In the wake of that firing, Cousins said that he has to take some responsibility for the offense's performance, noting that if he'd played at a higher level, DeFilippo would still have his job. Per 

"Myself, I'd be the first one to say, if I had played at a higher level, we're probably not talking about the things we're talking about. I take ownership, as well. Yet, big picture why? I don't know. I do point to the fact that we played at Chicago, who's a good defense. You saw what they did to the Rams. We played at Seattle and at New England, those aren't places you walk into as of late and just walk out with a win without breaking a sweat. Those are tough places to play, good teams. I'm sure there's a part of that, that you have to look at as well.

"You look at, 'What do I need to do better? How can I be better?' The nature of the quarterback position is that the ball is in your hands. So you're going to be easily able to say that so many times. That was one of the things I did communicate to Coach Flip yesterday was, I believe with the ball in my hand, had I played at my fullest potential play in and play out, we're probably not having this conversation right now. That's something I take personally and is certainly tough for me, and keeps you up at night. But at the same time, all you can do now is go forward and, you know, 'Hey, faced adversity before, been able to overcome it, been able to push through it.' As coach Shanahan always told me, 'Tough times don't last, tough people do.' I'm going to choose to be a tough person, keep going and believe if we do that, if I do that, good things are in store."

Cousins hasn't necessarily been bad this season, but he hasn't been all that much of an upgrade over Keenum -- if he's been one at all. Numbers-wise, he has been essentially the exact same guy Keenum was last year, but in an environment where quarterback play around the league has been better than it was a year ago. 

Vikings QBs2017 Keenum2018 Cousins
Comp %67.6%70.6%
TD %4.57%4.58%
INT %1.46%1.72%
QB Rtg98.398.4

Certainly, if he'd managed to be an upgrade on Keenum and had the Vikings ranking among the 10 best offenses in the league, DeFilippo would presumably still have his job. Some of the blame surely falls on both Cousins and DeFilippo, and some of it falls on the offensive line and the receivers and the backs as well. But a quarterback is pretty much always going to get the majority of the credit and blame for offensive performance, and Cousins seems to recognize that. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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