After a quiet start to the season, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer was loud and clear about his belief in his franchise quarterback.
"He's going to be fine," Zimmer said, per ESPN. "We have the utmost confidence in him. He's in a good place where he's going to play good this week and continue to play good for the rest of the year."
That mission continues Sunday at home against the Raiders. The eighth-year QB did his part in the season opener, completing 8 of 10 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown as the Vikings cruised to victory over the Falcons. Cousins' struggles last week (14 of 32, 230 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) were likely the difference in a five-point loss in Green Bay.
The Vikings had a chance to go ahead late in the fourth quarter when Cousins was picked off in the corner of the end zone.
"Believe me, I'm not going to be playing quarterback here if I go out and play the way I did this past Sunday for much longer," Cousins said. "So I understand that, and I look forward to getting out there and playing at a much higher level."
That was the Vikings' expectation after giving Cousins the most guaranteed money in NFL history last year. The $84 million man has since produced mixed results. He set career highs in completion percentage and touchdowns in 2018, though that was probably expected given the upgrade in supporting cast from Washington.
His time in Minnesota will ultimately be judged by the team's record, which is just 9-8-1 in his 18 starts. The Vikings, of course, missed the playoffs last year after reaching the NFC title game in 2017. Knowing they put their faith in him to take the next step, Cousins appreciated this week's vote of confidence from his head coach.
"It's nice to be believed in," Cousins said. "You've got to go out and earn it, though. In this league, no one's giving you anything. This isn't a charity. You've got to play well to earn peoples' confidence, so if he's saying that, it's because he's seen practice reps, he's seen game reps, he's seen what we're capable of as an offense throwing the football. So you've got to go out and earn it."