Who says “on-pace” stats can only be used in baseball? Kirk Cousins is on pace top throw for more than 5,000 yards and set a career high in touchdown passes. But when asked on Wednesday, the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback wanted nothing to do with questions about his statistical accomplishments thus far.
“These questions are tough to answer because it’s just not where my mind is at on a weekly basis,” Cousins said. “It does me no good to answer that question, to talk about that. I want to focus on the Arizona Cardinals, trying to win any way we can. If I throw for zero yards, throw zero passes and we win, we’re doing our job as an organization, as a team and we come in here on Monday happy. Certainly that doesn’t tend to happen, you do tend to throw the ball and stats can give you an indication of how a player’s playing but it does not tell the whole story.
Cousins has averaged 337 yards passing per game, completed 71.2 percent of his passes and posted a 105.1 quarterback rating. If those numbers hold, they will be career bests.
“My focus is on what do we need to do each week to win. In the first few weeks, we felt like throwing the football, getting pass attempts so our best athletes on the outside can make plays was our best chance to move the football and to score points,” Cousins said. “That may not be the case every week but it’s given us a chance to be explosive early in the season and we’ll see if it can continue. A lot of factors affect the ability to do that in terms of the weather, the defenses you play, our health as an offense and who emerges as players we want to get involved.”
The Vikings’ franchise QB is quick to point out that situations impact numbers. For three of this year’s five games, the Vikings were largely playing from behind, forcing them to throw the ball more often.
“I think that’s fun for everybody on the outside, people who follow this league, to discuss around the water cooler but for me, I just want to do everything it takes to win,” Cousins said. “And that will change within games. If we have a lead, a two-score, three-score lead in the fourth quarter, you better be running the ball or run the clock out and you may end up only throwing for a small number of yards but you have a two-score, three-score lead early and the game didn’t dictate opening up and launching it.
“When you’re down to L.A., when you’re down to Green Bay, the game dictates you having to drop back and throw the ball all over the yard to win the game and to come back. Every game will dictate how the numbers shake out.”
That doesn’t mean that Cousins is completely ignoring statistics. Instead he looks to the numbers that might give him a barometer on his game or give him information about a situation.
“I think you do use it all,” he said. “I think the problem is you don’t want to get caught up on any one statistic. For example, I felt like I was taking too many sacks earlier this year. I felt like there were a couple of games where I had four sacks, that’s too many. Then you go back and compare to sacks per pass attempt, well, we were throwing a lot and so you’re going to take a few more sacks. You had to see the statistics in light of the situations in games and those kinds of things. Now, I may have taken two sacks, but if you only have 20 attempts, that’s not very good. You have to look at those statistics to give you an indication of what’s going on and then you couple it with the tape and what your coaches are coaching you to do and then you get a better picture of the entire evaluation.”
Cousins admits that the best quarterbacks usually have the best numbers — i.e. Drew Brees being the all-time leading passer — but the fantasy numbers do not always give an indication of how well a QB is playing.
“Don’t get me wrong, stats certainly do correlate with good play, but I’ve found that the best way to get the production is to just kind of put blinders on, not focus on it and then that will take care of itself,” Cousins said.