Kirk Cousins doesn't have to have anyone tell him what may happen if he continues to throw the ball to the other team. Cousins, after throwing three interceptions during the first half of the Vikings' 40-23 loss to the Falcons, knows that coach Mike Zimmer will be forced to look at his other options at quarterback if Cousins' interception woes continue. Cousins, who threw just six interceptions in 2019, has a league-high 10 picks through six games this season.
"The reality is if the pace I'm on in terms of the interceptions, if that were to continue, I won't finish the season," Cousins said, via ESPN's Courtney Cronin. "I won't -- you know what I mean? There's a little bit of, you got to improve. Whether it's them telling me, 'Hey, we gotta improve,' or them pulling me; we got to get better. That's what the rest of the season will be about for me is trying to protect the football as best I can. Because when you turn the ball over, it really hurts your chances to win. I know that. I just need to improve as we look ahead to the rest of the season."
While he acknowledged that he needs to do a better job taking care of the football, Cousins said that the alarming number of interceptions is also a byproduct of the Vikings' overall lack of offensive success. Minnesota's offensive line has failed to do an adequate job of protecting Cousins, who is already midway towards his entire 2019 sack total.
And while Dalvin Cooks (489 rushing yards wiht a 5.3 yards per carry average) and Alexander Martin (245 rushing yards with a 4.5 yards per carry average) are having success on the ground, the passing game has yet to find a third reliable option behind Adam Thielen (32 catches, 415 yards and seven touchdowns) and rookie Justin Jefferson (28 catches, 537 yards and three touchdowns). Tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith have just 20 catches between them thus far, while receiver Olabisi Johnson has just five catches for 93 yards through six games. Cook and Mattison have not been asked to contribute much to the passing game, as the duo has just 27 combined targets. Expect that to change if the Vikings do not find another receiving threat sometime soon.
One major difference between the Vikings' offense when comparing it to last year's unit is receiver Stefon Diggs, who was traded from Minnesota to Buffalo in March. After breaking the 1,000-yard barrier during his final two seasons in Minnesota, Diggs is on pace to put up a stat line of 115 receptions and 1,628 receiving yards for the Bills, who are currently atop the AFC East division. Another difference is the change in offensive coordinators, as Gary Kubiak has replaced Kevin Stefanski. In his first season as head coach, Stefanski has led the Browns to a 4-2 start as Cleveland's new head coach.
The only other quarterback on the Vikings' active roster is Sean Mannion, a six-year veteran who has made two starts in 13 career games. And while a benching is not out of the question, the Vikings' financial investment in Cousins (he signed a two-year $66 million extension this past offseason) may lead to Zimmer giving his quarterback more time to get things turned around.
Speaking of Zimmer, he did not even mention the possibility of making a change at quarterback following Sunday's loss. Instead, Zimmer said he is looking forward to reviewing his entire roster as the Vikings head into their Week 7 bye.
"I think [personnel changes is] something we need to look at here starting tomorrow," Zimmer said, "when we get back in and figure out where we're at, where we plan on going and kind of go from there."