Thursday was Thanksgiving. It also was third-down day for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Cousins spoke Wednesday about the valuable weekly meetings he has with Zimmer.
“We just watch third downs on Thursday,’’ he said. “It gives us a chance for us to talk football, for me to ask questions, learn from him from a defensive perspective. I think it’s been really interesting to learn from him in a more structured way every week when it comes to having us spend time.’’
Entering Sunday’s game at San Francisco, Cousins is having one of the best seasons of his 10-year NFL career. In 10 games, he has thrown for 2,775 yards with 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Cousins’ interception percentage of 0.5 is on pace to easily be a career best and way better than last year’s 2.5. And his passer rating of 106.3 is on pace to be the second best of his career.
“I think our relationship has changed quite a bit,’’ Zimmer said of having Cousins in his fourth Minnesota season. “In the fact that we sit there and talk about a lot of different things. It might be 45 minutes or an hour.’’
Zimmer said he’s not saying the conversations are “the reason he’s playing good” but he believes “it has helped” Cousins. Offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak agreed.
“I think their relationship has grown through those meetings. … It’s very important,’’ Kubiak said. “Two leaders in our organization getting together, being on the same page, there’s a lot of value in that.’’
Of course, there are limits to how much the two agree on things. Zimmer has been urging Cousins to be more aggressive in recent games, saying on Monday, “He can’t second-guess himself. If he throws an interception, that’s life. But you keep going for the jugular.” Cousins responded on Wednesday by saying, “Well, I don’t want to throw picks even if the coach gave me the green light to.”
In last Sunday’s 34-31 win over Green Bay, Cousins threw what were initially ruled two interceptions by safety Darnell Savage. The first, in the second quarter, was nullified by a roughing-the-passer penalty. The second, with just over two minutes remaining and the score tied 31-31, was overruled when a replay determined Savage had dropped the ball.
“You understand when you hold the football, you hold much of the organization in your hands, so you want to take that seriously,’’ Cousins said.
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