Mike Zimmer is in the midst of his eighth season in Minnesota and has taken the Vikings to the playoffs three times. Sunday's 30-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks is the best the veteran coach has seen his offense play.
"I told the team that it's the best offensive performance that I've seen in the eight years that I've been here," Zimmer said, via ESPN. "Kirk (Cousins) played outstanding. I thought (Alexander) Mattison ran the ball well, the offensive line blocked great. Tight ends, receivers blocked great in the run game but also in the passing game. Very, very proud of the way that they performed today."
The statement by Zimmer is underscored by the fact that the Vikes put up that performance without star running back Dalvin Cook, the engine of the offense the first two weeks.
It also underscores just how well Cousins has played to open the 2021 campaign. On Sunday, the veteran QB diced up a Seahawks defense that had no answers. Cousins completed 30 of 38 passes for 323 yards and 3 TDs. Through three games, Cousins has tossed 8 TDs and 0 INTs and completed 73.9 percent of his passes.
Cousins became the sixth player over the last 25 seasons with a 70-plus completion percentage, 8-plus pass TDs and 0 INTs in the team's first three games of a season, joining Patrick Mahomes (2019), Drew Brees (2018), Tom Brady (2015), Aaron Rodgers (2015) and Peyton Manning (2013).
"It's been a different Kirk," wide receiver Adam Thielen said. "He's just locked in and on time, he's trusting it. I think a big part of that is our O-line and the way they're blocking and giving him enough time to sit back there and make his reads."
The Vikings (1-2) have gained 400-plus total yards and scored 24-plus points in all three games this season.
Despite the offense playing well the first two weeks, Minnesota came up short, including on last week's missed game-winning field goal. On Sunday, the Vikes overpowered Seattle, leaving no doubt.
"I think (Cousins is) playing outstanding," Zimmer said. "But not only that, he's playing with a lot of confidence. I really appreciate the leadership that he's been doing lately. It's been so much better, something he wanted to work on. He's done a great job with that. He's very confident where he's throwing the football. He's very confident with these receivers. I think the offensive line has helped him do some of those things as well."