A Familiar And Formidable Challenge

August 31st, 2023

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The last time the Bucs faced Kirk Cousins on the road, he stopped on his way to the post-game locker room and bellowed to the assembled media:

“You like that?” Cousins crowed. The Bucs were not amused on that shocking afternoon in 2015.

Cousins had just led Washington back from a 24-0 deficit, throwing for three second-half touchdowns in an improbable 31-30 triumph. Tampa Bay was 2-3 and coming off a bye week when Cousins found tight end Jordan Reed from six yards out for the winning score with only 24 seconds remaining.

It was Reed’s 11th catch of the day as Lovie Smith’s Bucs self-destructed with 16 penalties.

Five years later, during their championship season, the Bucs met up with Cousins again. This time, they sacked him six times in a 26-14 victory against the Vikings that triggered a season-ending 8-game winning streak.

Kirk Cousins absorbs his share of hits.

Cousins played well that day, too, and he’ll be a formidable challenge for Tampa Bay in the season opener. Seven times in his career, Cousins has been named one of the NFL’s Top 100 players in voting by his peers, yet he rarely gets credit as a consistently productive quarterback.

“We don’t believe in Kirk Cousins in big games,” says Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network. “He can lay a clunker with the best of them.”

The Vikings, who signed him as a free agent in 2018, have yet to offer a contract extension to the 35-year-old Cousins, who could be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

“Kirk doesn’t need to show anything to me,” insists Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. “Last year, we won 13 games. I don’t know what he would need to prove to me or anybody else.”

You can bet Todd Bowles isn’t taking Cousins lightly.

Dalvin Cook is now with the Jets, so the Buc secondary is expecting plenty of work Sept. 10 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Justin Jefferson has assumed the top spot among NFL wide receivers and Minnesota drafted former Southern Cal standout Jordan Addison in the first round. Add in savvy tight end T.J. Hockenson, who caught 60 passes in 10 games as a Viking after a trade with Detroit, and Cousins can’t complain about his weapons.

The Vikings weren’t as good as their record indicated last season, but Minnesota went 8-1 at home and Cousins led an offense that averaged 25 points.

Bucs No. 1 cornerback Carlton Davis.

Perhaps Carlton Davis will volunteer to shadow Jefferson, who had only four receptions for 39 yards against Davis and the Bucs as a rookie in 2020.

Davis did a good job against Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase last year, but Jefferson torches cornerbacks on a weekly basis and now he has Addison and Hockenson to share the burden.

When evaluating NFC quarterbacks, you’d have to place Cousins in that second tier behind Jalen Hurts. He’s right there in a group with Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Geno Smith, Jared Goff and Daniel Jones. Cousins is 46-33-1 with Minnesota, a 68 percent passer with 153 TD throws and only 50 picks.

Mobility, however, has never been a strength.

Considering the Bucs face Justin Fields and Hurts following Week 1, Bowles can’t wait to draw up some exotic blitzes against a veteran pocket passer. Cousins was sacked 46 times last year and has averaged only 6.6 rushing yards per game in his career.

If the Bucs build a second-half lead, they can’t relax against this former fourth-round draft pick. Cousins led the NFL with eight game-winning drives in 2022, including a miraculous comeback from a 33-0 halftime deficit against Indianapolis.

He’s out to prove himself once again in a contract year. Even Jefferson provided more motivation when he was asked to name the league’s top five quarterbacks. Jefferson rattled off a bunch of names, failing to mention Cousins.

Although Cousins doesn’t legitimately belong on that elite list, it’s common courtesy for a star player to talk up a teammate — even if you have to stretch the truth a bit.

We head into a new season with Cousins and Baker Mayfield each craving respect. Two veteran quarterbacks, one common goal.

Yeah, we like that.

20 Responses to “A Familiar And Formidable Challenge”

  1. Derobbins Says:

    I can’t remember was that the year mariots also went off on us?

    The year of slants being indefensible?

  2. D-Rome Says:

    I was really impressed with Kirk Cousins on Netflix’s Quarterback show. He seems like a likeable guy who works as hard as he can to be the very best he can be. He also loves playing football and loves his teammates.

    I hope he loses against the Bucs.

  3. '79 Defense Says:

    “Cousins had just led Washington back from a 24-0 deficit…”

    Thanks for the memories, Ira.

  4. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    I was at that Vikings game, it was one of those “sickness” games. I was the only person in my section, it was so weird being in the stadium with what felt like four hundred people.

  5. Irishmist Says:

    This is my biggest worry about the upcoming game. We get a lead, and then Bowles shuts the offense down and sits on it, and we have to listen to this cackling fool again.

  6. Bojim Says:

    Don’t take him lightly.

  7. 1#bucsfan Says:

    This will deff be a good test for our defense. We haven’t bin able to stop the run no matter who we play. They have a legit WR. JJ torches defenses before he’s even done with his breakfast. Their TE is no joke. Gotta play LVD on him n not white. I don’t know much about their 1st pick but our defense is gunna have their hands full. Dean n davis are going to have to step up big time. Someone is going to need to cover their TE too

  8. BillyBucco Says:

    Well let’s just hope Bowles doesn’t open in a 4-3 defense like he did against the Ravens.
    4 passes 4 completions and a Tuddy against our back 4 minus Winfield who might not play anyway.
    They did that without their Cousins and Jefferson like Lamar and Beckham.
    This team better be fired up, mean and hungry and TAKE no less than a win.
    I hope these rookies can play fast and don’t look like they are on the field taking a geometry test.
    LFG Bucs!!!!!

  9. Vlad The Impaler Says:

    It was Reed’s 11th catch of the day as Lovie Smith’s Bucs self-destructed with 16 penalties.

    Bowles says “Only 16 penalties? Hold my drink”

  10. go dawgs Says:

    we can definitely beat this team.. bucs have to play clean

  11. Buc1987 Says:

    0-1 out of the gate.

    Go Bucs!!!

  12. Saskbucs Says:

    The good news is the Bucs have the better defense and White > Mattison. Vikings D should have their hands full. I can’t name anyone in the Vikings secondary except safety Harrison Smith is still there right and a recent high draft pick CB whose name eludes me. Granderson is a drop off on the edge from Zadarius Smith. Analytics had Vikings as the worst 13 win team in history last year. They had a lot of luck.

    I don’t think the Vikings are good enough to be giving away 6 points. Happily on the Bucs week 1. They better not disappoint !

  13. Fred McNeil Says:

    I think they traded Zadarious Smith.

  14. Fred McNeil Says:

    Oh, I see what you said now.

  15. Proudbucsfan Says:

    Excellent, I always enjoy your articles Ira, thanks Joe for being the best website on the internet and the best part about that is your Buccaneer fans.

  16. Rod Munch Says:

    Wow, the 2nd tier of NFC QBs is pretty terrible, wouldn’t even be the 5th tier in the AFC.

    BTW, why did the Bucs lose that game to the Redskins? Because Lovie went super conservative in the 2nd half, literally just tried to run out the clock – then at the end instead of trying to get a TD to wrap up the game, he played for a FG. In other words, exactly what Todd Bowles would do.

  17. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    He’s underrated. But his skills are deteriorating. Minnie ran a bunch of motion pres-snap motion last year to maximize his veteran IQ. And seriously he has a Biletnikoff glue machine with Jefferson

  18. Crickett Baker Says:

    Great article, Ira, and SUPER way to end it! GO BUCS!

  19. NJbucs23 Says:

    I was there for that game. Thanks for reminding me. I’m now 0-2 Bucs games in that dump of a stadium in DC. So my ever go back

  20. garro Says:

    I suspect that the Vikes will target Diva White with Tight end and the running game since he can’t cover a good tight end or RB and can’t tackle.

    Go Bucs!