Scrutiny simply comes with being a signal-caller in the NFL.
Kirk Cousins, though, has long been saddled with another level of criticism for his struggles in high-profile games (and a hefty contract). In 2019, Cousins produced stellar statistics and a postseason victory against the favored New Orleans Saints.
But was it enough for the Minnesota Vikings quarterback to head into the 2020 season with his critics muted and the Skol nation behind him?
The numbers, at least, are in his favor and so too is the presence of Gary Kubiak.
In 2019, Cousins' 10 wins as a starter, his 26-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 107.4 quarterback rating were all career bests. And that 26-20 win in the NFC Wild Card over the Saints, the one in which he outperformed Drew Brees, was his first playoff win.
How Kirk Cousins stacked up in 2019
(Per NFL Research)
Kirk Cousins * *2019 Season * *NFL Rank
QB Wins 10 T-7th
Comp Pct. 69.1 4th
Pass Yds/Att 8.1 7th
TD-INT 26-6 6th
Passer Rating 107.4 4th
Cousins, the only QB in the league with 25 or more TD passes in five years running according to NFL Research, had his most successful season to date and now he will quarterback an offense with Kubiak as offensive coordinator. Past first seasons with Kubiak as OC have seen a windfall for his quarterbacks, such as John Elway (threw a then-career-high 26 touchdowns in 1995, per NFL Research), David Carr (led the NFL with a career-high 68.3 completion percentage in 2006), Joe Flacco (career-best 27 touchdown passes in 2014) and Peyton Manning (helped Broncos win Super Bowl 50).
Then again, naysayers are most difficult to quiet.
Cousins is still just 1-2 in the playoffs, 7-15 in prime time outings and 17-26-2 on the road. One good season isn't likely to hush his most vocal critics.
2019 was a good start on turning things around, though – a collection of good starts, in fact.