“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.
“I realized when I was in Washington, he was kind of careless with the ball,” Brown said. “But at the same time, hey, you make the bed you sleep in.”
Cousins is known for his high passing yardage totals and propensity to lose the football. He already has seven fumbles in five games this season, and he recorded a career-high 13 in 2017, when he was Brown’s teammate in Washington.
“I was at the Redskins with him, so I know about him. That’s my viewpoint on him,” Brown said.
The Vikings have shifted from a pass-heavy offense to a run-oriented attack this season, and it has paid off to a degree. The Eagles boast the NFL’s best run defense (63 yards per game) but allow the sixth-most passing yards per game (271.2), so Cousins could be forced to throw more than he has in the early stages of this young season.
“Make [Cousins] frustrated back there,” Brown said. “First we have to stop the run and then make him frustrated back there. Our main concern is stopping the run because if they can run the ball, they’re going to win.”
Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook is second in the NFL in rushing yards (542) and tied for third in rushing touchdowns (five). But the Vikings are 29th in passing yards per game (191).
The Vikings used a pass-heavy attack last season when wideouts Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs both eclipsed 1,000 yards. Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph was third on the team in 2018 with 634 receiving yards. But Rudolph has just six receptions for 36 yards in five games this year.
“I’m focused on whatever my job is, and to this point my job has been blocking — blocking a lot,” Rudolph said last week, though he insists he actually enjoys blocking.
Any frustration the Vikings may have with the lack of a passing attack came to the surface after their 16-6 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 4.
“At some point, you’re not going to be able to run the ball for 180 yards, even with the best running back in the NFL,” Thielen said. “That’s when you have to be able to throw the ball. … You have to be able to hit the deep balls.”
Cousins made amends with Thielen shortly after.
“I really want to apologize to [Thielen] because there’s too many opportunities where we could have hit him on Sunday,” Cousins said on KFAN’s “Under Center.” “Postgame when I talk to the media, I always say, ‘Hey, until I watch the film, it’s hard for me to really give you a straight answer.’ Well, now it’s Tuesday night. I’ve watched the film and the reality is there were opportunities for [Thielen].
“I can’t sit up here and act like everything is okay,” Diggs said of the team’s offense. “It’s obviously not.”
He was also reportedly fined more than $200,000 for unexcused absences from meetings and practices the week following the game. Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer was noncommittal as to whether Diggs would play last Sunday against the New York Giants.
Diggs ultimately played and the Vikings beat the Giants, 28-10. The win, in which the team put up 306 yards through the air, seemingly helped change the star receiver’s tune.
“It was never not good,” Diggs said of his relationship with the team. “Outside people got things a little shaky, but at this point, I’m a team guy. I’m here, and I want to win.”