Former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ben Leber thinks Kirk Cousins could be primed for a big 2022 season after the departure of head coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings had a disappointing 2021 season and head coach Zimmer was fired shortly after the season ended.
Leber, who played for the Vikings between 2006 and 2010, thinks Zimmer didn't like and respect Cousins. The Vikings now have a new head coach, former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell. "I think he's gonna finally thrive, really thrive, in a system and a coach that actually respects him," Leber told Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio.
"I mean, It's not like I'm not breaking news here that Mike Zimmer did not like Kirk Cousins. And I think that showed in the way that Kirk behaved and the way that he carried himself. The team was never given to him, or he was never allowed to earn the trust of the team, because the head coach I think just didn't like him."
Leber further defends Cousins
Last season, Cousins threw for 33 touchdowns and had seven interceptions.
Leber thinks Cousins and the offense did enough, but it was the Vikings' defense that caused them problems in the last two seasons. "That was a top-10 offense last year, with a very green, first-time offensive coordinator [Klint Kubiak]," Leber explained.
"Where was their defense ranked last year? Thirty-first. The year before that, I think they were ranked 27th. So people can rail on Kirk and rail on this offense and say we can't win with him or we can't win with this offense.
I say that's total BS. We couldn't win with the crap defense that we've had the last two years. We couldn't stop the run, at all -- ever -- and then in key moments of the games ... we couldn't stop any two-minute offense. So, to me, the biggest liability of this team has been defense." The Vikings are coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons.
However, Leber thinks the Vikings have a talented team and they could make some noise in 2022. Specifically, Leber identified improving defense as the key to Vikings' success this upcoming season. "All this team has to do is play good team defense, finish in the mid-teens at the end of the season, and they're playoff bound and they can make some noise," Leber concluded.