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Fans to Put Cousins in Hot Seat

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March 15, 2018

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All the elements are in place for Vikings fans to put more pressure on Kirk Cousins than probably any quarterback in franchise history. An announcement is expected today that the Redskins’ free agent quarterback has signed a reported three-year $84 million contract with Minnesota making him the highest paid at his position in the NFL.

That kind of money—reportedly guaranteed—commands attention and expectations. He’ll get plenty of both from Vikings fans who anticipate immediate success from their new quarterback and old team. Cousins, while regarded as the best free agent QB in the NFL class of 2018, has a losing record against winning teams while playing six seasons in Washington. His leadership skills have also been questioned.

Cousins, though, has produced some of the best individual passing stats in the NFL in recent seasons. At 29 and healthy, he could give the Vikings one of the league’s best quarterbacks for years to come, but he will have to earn his way into the hearts of Minnesota fans.

Case Keenum (photo courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)

The majority of fans were fond of Cousins’ three predecessors who departed this week to play quarterback for other teams. Many loved Teddy Bridgewater, and they also liked Sam Bradford and Case Keenum. There were a lot of purple hearts that hoped a couple of them would remain on the roster for next season.

If Cousins starts poorly in the first couple of games—and the Vikings are losing— fans at U.S. Bank Stadium and on social media will be hyper critical. One of the loudest stadiums in the NFL will turn into a boo-box. Cousins likely is experienced enough to handle the emotional drama and remain confident. The potential jeering could be similar to the beat down this fan base gave Christian Ponder in his early and formative seasons. The vote of no confidence didn’t contribute anything positive to Ponder’s development and early washout to his career.

Cousins inherits a team that was one win from the Super Bowl. Most of the coaching staff and personnel are back for the 2018 season—another way of stating expectations are skyscraper high. The Vikings haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 1977, although they’ve had close calls including in 1999 and this year.

In this town passion runs deep for the Vikings. Those emotions include frustration and the fan base doesn’t want to go through any more disappointing seasons or rebuilding projects. Not with how long fans have waited for success, and not when gameday customers at U.S. Bank Stadium are paying premium prices for tickets and concessions. Win now, and win big, is the mentality.

Quarterback is the most important position on an NFL team. Welcome to Purple Land, Mr. Cousins.

Worth Noting

P.J. Fleck said on WCCO Radio Sunday morning he’s been impressed with the leadership qualities of redshirt sophomore quarterback Seth Green, but a position switch is a possibility if that’s the best way to get the athletic 6-4, 229-pound player on the field. Potential positions are on both offense and defense including tight end.

Former Gopher football player Jim Brunzell said via email longtime friend and pro wrestling icon Ric Flair, who spent part of his youth in Edina, is feeling much better after almost dying last year. “He’ll never have a drink again,” Brunzell wrote.

Scout.com ranks incoming Gopher freshman Daniel Oturu the third best prep center in the country. In Pitino’s five years at Minnesota he’s never had a player ranked that high in a position category.

Pitino writing in his March 12 blog about scheduling: “Let’s face it. There’s nothing better than a quality opponent in your building on national TV. The Miami environment (Nov. 29 at Williams Arena) was one of the best crowds since I’ve been here. We have to be able to reward our season ticket holders.”

Dave Stead’s last day assisting with the transition role of Executive Director at the Minnesota State High School League is April 2. “I didn’t want to leave on April Fools’ Day,” joked Stead who has been helping replacement Erich Martens learn the job of Executive Director.

Stead was director for 30 years and will be available as an advisor to the MSHL in the future. Stead was principal at New Ulm High School when he first met Martens who was a student there. Martens, who was the principal at Sauk Rapids High School before joining the MSHSL, is the organization’s seventh Executive Director in its history.

Stead said there is a waiting list of about 2,000 for all-sessions tickets to the Boys’ Class 2A Hockey Tournament held annually at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Gopher athletic director Mark Coyle will be pulling for Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament because of his relationship with Wildcat head coach John Calipari. They formed a friendship years ago when Coyle worked in the athletic department at Kentucky and they have stayed in touch.

John Lindahl, who with wife Nancy have been hall of fame benefactors for Gopher athletics, said $2.75 billion has been raised for the $4 billion fundraising campaign by the University of Minnesota scheduled to end in 2021. The Lindahls are co-chairs for “Driven: The University of Minnesota Campaign” raising monies for scholarships, research and other endeavors.

Walt Jocketty, the Minneapolis native who graduated from Marshall-U High School, is executive advisor to Cincinnati Reds CEO Bob Castelleni. Jocketty has been in executive positions since 1980 with the A’s, Cardinals, Reds and Rockies. He was president of the Cardinals from 1994-2007 and held the same title with the Reds from 2008-2016.

Walt’s brother Peter Jocketty, who played hockey for the Gophers and later coached at Washburn, is retired from a career that included working for the Minnesota North Stars.

The Twin Cities Dunkers saluted longtime club administrator Sandy Olson with a luncheon Wednesday at Interlachen Country Club. Almost all the program chairs from Sandy’s 20 years with Dunkers were able to attend the event organized by Dave Mona.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

(1) Reader Comment

  1. avatar
    Tom Coyne
    March 16, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Thanks for the solid sports updates, David! While I applaud the Vikings for their aggressiveness in getting the man they wanted, I agree that the pressure to deliver will never be greater for Cousins. He's out of a less than stellar situation in Washington, so this should certainly be his best chance to see more post-season action. But he also won't have quite the same protection he had from that Redskins' offensive line. Plus the big money contract and the detractors who miss Case Keenum will also put the Vikings' front office on the spot if this doesn't work out well.

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