MINNEAPOLIS — There were some questions about the on-the-field relationship between Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen after the Vikings’ Week 14 loss at Seattle when a microphone picked up a frustrated Thielen expressing that a certain play had been there all night, despite the fact Minnesota could not capitalize on it.
Not surprisingly, Thielen tried to downplay his comment when asked about it later. Sunday, things appeared to get a bit more heated.
Round 2 of the potential dissension between Cousins and Thielen came late in the second quarter of the Vikings’ season-ending 24-10 loss to the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Facing third-and-6 from the Bears 27-yard line with 1 minute, 3 seconds left before halftime, Cousins’ pass to the deep right for Thielen sailed incomplete and came nowhere near the wide receiver. Dan Bailey then kicked a 45-yard field goal to cut Chicago’s lead to 13-3, but the action on the sideline was far more interesting than what was taking place on the field.
Kirk Cousins with the route running clinic… or the safety dance pic.twitter.com/SuJQKP3x2L
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) December 30, 2018
Fox’s cameras caught Cousins telling Thielen that he didn’t have time to make the throw that Thielen expected and, as the conversation continued, Thielen’s body language looked like that of a guy who didn’t want to hear it from his $84 million quarterback.
Cousins and Thielen spent the postgame trying to put their best spin on things, but the frustration witnessed in the moment was obvious from both.
“It was kind of a deal of just trying to be on the same page with the route as to what he was doing,” Cousins said. “Obviously, I’m trying to throw it in anticipation and trying to read his body language before he breaks, and just talking about how to make sure that we’re able to come away with the right play there. He was able to communicate back to me what he’s doing, why he’s doing what he needs. So it was good communication back and forth to get on the same page and try to understand what we each need to be successful.”
Said Thielen: “(The disagreement) wasn’t between Kirk and I. It was a little frustration on myself for not getting open, maybe, and a little frustration with not getting opportunities. But it definitely wasn’t anything with Kirk, and it actually turned out to be a really good conversation. We talked a lot about what I could have done better, and on what we could have done in the second half to exploit their defense. It was a good conversation.”
Cousins, asked if Thielen had run the wrong route, said he had not.
Cousins is in his first season with the Vikings, but it’s surprising that there would be issues between the quarterback and one of his star receivers in the final game of the regular season. Especially, a game that the Vikings needed to win to earn a playoff berth.
Asked about the fact it appeared Cousins was saying he only had so much time to make a throw behind his offensive line, the quarterback confirmed that was the case.
“Yep, (I was) just trying to say if you do that I don’t have time to wait on that usually,” he said. “And I don’t know you’re doing that. Again, those are conversations he and I have. To talk about it now, it’s going to get misconstrued and misinterpreted. Adam’s my guy. He’s the best. I want to have more of those conversations. I actually liked the passion back and forth. I want to do more of that. I want to let us both be who we are and have those discussions because he’s the kind of guy we can do that with going forward.”
Thielen, who opened the season by setting an NFL record with eight consecutive 100-yard receiving games, had only one such game in his final eight. He had only three receptions for 38 yards against the Bears as Cousins threw for a season-low 132 yards. So what happened to the chemistry between Cousins and Thielen and why did it appear to disintegrate?
Cousins and Thielen weren’t letting anyone in on that secret Sunday.