EAGAN, Minn. -- During the Minnesota Vikings' Week 10 bye, quarterback Kirk Cousins says he'll engage in various forms of self-scouting, focusing on situational football ranging from third down in the red zone and clock management to penalties and fumbles. The goal this week is not only to zero in on the areas he and Minnesota's offense can improve upon heading into the last two months of the regular season, but also to rest and recharge before preparing to play in Chicago on Nov. 18.
Before the Vikings break for their bye week, Cousins reflected on his time in Minnesota thus far, including the nine games he's played and the seven that remain.
"I think in a lot of ways, this experience has exceeded my expectations," Cousins said. "When you look at it glass half full, I'm thrilled about our locker room, the chemistry we have on this team, the quality of teammates, the quality of leadership we have in this organization.
"Certainly would have loved to be better than 5-3-1, but I'm grateful we're not 3-5-1. You can look at it both ways. The point is, we keep saying everything is in front of us. We can talk about the past or where we are. But at the end of the day, when you have meaningful games to be played in November and December, let's look forward and focus on that."
Cousins admits he was wary of things taking longer to jell within the offense than they actually did. The Vikings rank 12th in total offense (374.3 ypg) and eighth in passing (282.7 ypg) while Cousins has the third most passing yards among all quarterbacks (2,685) and set a handful of team passing records along the way.
"I'm pleased with the way we offensively didn't have a slow start with a new coordinator, new quarterback," he said. "There was a concern of mine that could lead to a slow start, where we'd have to really rely on defense and special teams for the first half of the season. I feel like offensively we have been able to start fast and I think that's a good sign and we just have to start from there."
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman called Cousins "phenomenal" in his assessment of the seventh-year quarterback so far despite the "six or seven" different offensive line combinations he's had to play behind. Spielman noted there's room for improvement on offense coming out of the bye but said that overall he's pleased with the continuity Cousins has built and developed in nine games.
"I think Kirk not only has done extremely well in how he's performed, especially when he's been getting pressured in the pocket, but you see some of the throws that he makes in games, those are some throws that are unique," Spielman said. "There's not a lot of people who can make those type of throws.
"But it's also how he's developed into a leader of this football team. I know I've sat in a couple quarterback meetings where they're sitting in there going over the game, and just sitting there listening to him talk, and being critical of himself and how he can improve. He's always looking to try and get better. It's pretty fascinating to sit there and listen to him sitting there breaking down game tape, and how important this is to him."