Mind Games: Eagles linebacker knew exactly what he was doing in questioning Vikings quarterback

Zack Brown could have provided the usual list of clichés when asked about former teammate Kirk Cousins on Friday. He could have pointed out that Cousins is capable of making some good throws and that he did exactly that last Sunday in a victory over the New York Giants.

It would have been so easy. Instead, the Philadelphia Eagles linebacker elected to share his actual feelings about the Vikings quarterback. That was an interesting choice and, at first, somewhat surprising.

“Cousins, I think every defense is going to want that guy to throw the ball,” Brown told reporters after Friday’s practice. “For me, that’s probably the weakest part of their offense is him. Everything else is good. They’ve got a good running game, probably one of the best in the league. They have real good receivers. You just want them to pass the ball. You want Kirk Cousins to get it in his hands.”

Brown knows what he’s talking about — although he certainly could have pointed out the Vikings’ pass protection is anything but stable — having been on the same Washington team as Cousins in 2017. Washington went 7-9 that season as Cousins threw for 4,093 yards with 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and lost five of his 13 fumbles before signing a three-year, $84 million free agent contract with the Vikings.

“I realized when I was in Washington, he was kind of careless with the ball,” said Brown, who signed a one-year deal with the Eagles last spring. “But at the same time, hey, you make the bed you sleep in. I was at the Redskins with him so I know about him. That’s my viewpoint on him.”

So why would Brown do this two days before the Eagles play the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium? He might have known exactly what he was doing and it wasn’t solely to give the media some truth in a place where they rarely get it.

Cousins has proven that he is at his best when he isn’t over-thinking things and Brown has to know that. Brown has to know Cousins will see his comments, and that Cousins very well might spend Sunday trying to prove his former teammate wrong. That’s exactly what the Vikings won’t want Cousins to do because the more he’s thinking about things the more he’s likely to make mistakes.

Cousins talked about playing mad last Sunday against the Giants as he threw for a season-high 306 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 138.6 passer rating. That’s nonsense. Cousins wasn’t mad, he was simply playing against a terrible defense and he has enough talent to easily pick apart bad teams.

The Eagles struggle against the pass but have the NFL’s best rush defense. They are going to do everything they can on Sunday to apply pressure on Cousins — Philadelphia had 10 sacks against the horrendous New York Jets last weekend — and also to get into his head.

What the Eagles don’t want Cousins to do is replicate his outstanding performance against them last season in Week 5. Cousins completed 30 of 37 passes for 301 yards with a touchdown, an interception and had a 109.6 passer rating in a 23-21 victory in Philadelphia. Cousins is 5-3 lifetime agianst the the Eagles with a career-high 17 touchdown passes and five interceptions and has a 101.2 rating.

Brown said the Eagles defense wants to make Cousins “frustrated back there,” while also stopping Dalvin Cook and the run game. Is Cousins susceptible to Brown’s mind games? Clearly, the Eagles linebacker thinks it’s worth a shot.