The End Of Kirk Cousins
2:36 PM EDT on November 2, 2023
Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday at Defector during the NFL season. Got something you wanna contribute? Email the Roo. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, through here.
This is how it was destined to end for Kirk Cousins. It had to happen right as he was playing the best football of his life. It had to happen right when his offensive line had finally improved enough to render his immobility a mere inconvenience rather than a fatal flaw. It had to happen just as he was putting a bow on the Vikings’ third straight win to bring them back to .500, doing so without Justin Jefferson at his disposal.
And it had to happen in Lambeau. These wouldn’t be the Vikings, and this wouldn’t be their quarterback, if it had happened anywhere else.
I have spent the past six years ricocheting between bemoaning Kirk Cousins as my QB, wondering what he might fetch in a trade, talking myself into his potential after he received yet another contract extension, grudgingly admiring him whenever he played well, and wishing him to be stricken dead by a COVID infection he never vaccinated himself against. To say that I have a healthy parasocial relationship with this man would be a lie. Indeed, anyone who’s had to cheer for Kirk has contracted some form of Kirk Derangement Syndrome in that timeframe, in which their mental well-being was perpetually tied to a man who, for the entirety of his career, has been too limited to win a title but too good to get rid of. Kirk takes too long to throw the ball. Kirk can’t run. Kirk always throws short of the sticks. Kirk can’t win in primetime, and certainly not in the playoffs. To defend him on any of these points was to invite ridicule that you knew, deep down, you deserved.
And it wasn’t merely fans or analysts who felt this way. Kirk was drafted by Washington to be a backup. (In the Netflix series Quarterback, he confesses to the camera that his draft experience was an enormous letdown.) Many of his coaches, especially Jay Gruden, openly derided him. His teammates sometimes did so privately. His GM left him to twist come free agency and derisively called him “Kurt,” a misnomer that now serves as a go-to epithet. When he got to Minnesota and was lavished with the first fully guaranteed megacontract in NFL history, the only person in the Vikings organization who wasn’t aboard with the signing was head coach Mike Zimmer, who openly hated Kirk until the moment he was fired at the end of the 2021 season. Stefon Diggs reportedly wanted out of Minnesota because he disliked Kirk. I’d heard plenty of rumors that other teammates were similarly cold on him.
That’s why I’ve wanted Kirk gone for years now. I was tired of my KDS, I was tired of him being unwanted by his own peers, and I was tired of watching him run the Vikings’ offense capably right up until the moment they had a lead on any opponent. I would’ve rather worn a MAGA hat than buy his jersey. I hated him. Hated his three-and-outs. Hated the way he refused to let his own mistakes go. Hated how he never made any play, even a successful one, look easy. Hated his inability to manage the clock. Hated his FACE. Here now is my impression of Kirk smiling:
I wanted this man to go another team so that I could make fun of him again, and I put a lot of mental energy into envisioning his potential successors—from draft prospects like Anthony Richardson to rostered duds like Kellen Mond—as the Bradys to his Bledsoe. When the Vikings refused to extend Kirk’s contract this past offseason, leaving him as a lame duck, I was relieved. There was an end in sight. The Vikings would finally end this failed experiment and get on with the business of finding a true franchise savior, something they have never successfully managed in my lifetime.
So it was fitting that Kirk would tear his Achilles right as he was entering another hot streak that had me believing, for the 457th time, that maybe he could still be that savior after all. The Vikings had no running game, no Justin, and a defense that could turn back into a pumpkin at any moment. But they had Kirk, who never missed when he had time in the pocket, and never got hurt. Every time a pack of defensive wolves would converge and turn his ribcage into a bag of gravel, he would get right back up. Not every QB can do that. Most cannot. There were times when I almost WANTED Kirk to get hurt, mainly so that one of his understudies could finally have the chance to outshine him. But in Green Bay last week, I wanted him healthy and upright. Because he was throwing absolute fucking dots, like this one.
That game was more than enough to convince me that Kirk had finally turned the mythical corner, finally unleashing the Kurt Warner within him. He had the line, he had the play-caller, he had the wideouts, and he seemingly had, at long last, the confidence in himself. Justin would be back in two weeks, the schedule would ease, and Kirk Cousins would finally live up to his lavish career earnings.
Then he took one wrong step, untouched, and it was all over. And, because life sometimes is like a movie, I only realized what I had lost once it was gone. I saw it in the faces of Kirk's coaches and teammates, and I read it in the postmortems coming out of the locker room after the game:
T.J. Hockenson struggled for words. “It’s super tough,” he said. “I don’t know. There’s nothing, really, I can say. I just love Kirk to death. I love his family. I love him. I love everything about him.”
Brian O’Neill, Minnesota’s right tackle, said: “I mean, I have more respect for him…” His voice trailed off. He tried to speak but began to tear up. He turned away.
I have been in the Vikings locker room, and I have heard Vikings players say the usual shit anytime they have to answer a question but don’t want to give anything away. But when Kirk went down, none of his teammates felt compelled to hide their grief. Nor could head coach Kevin O’Connell. O’Connell had gone out of his way to avoid talking about Kirk’s future with the team all preseason and all season long, presumably because he was already planning to replace him. After Sunday, he didn’t feel quite as inhibited:
"Kirk Cousins is going to be healthy again. I know he's going to be a free agent after this season, but Kirk knows how I feel about him, and that will be something that will hopefully works itself out."
There’s enough of a hedge in there, and in GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s follow-up comments, for Vikings to still cut Kirk loose when this season is over. In the unlikely event that either rookie Jaren Hall or new arrival Joshua Dobbs turn out to be a revelation, the die will be cast and all of this speculation will be moot. But for now, there remains the possibility that Kirk Cousins—35 years old, expensive, ringless, and recovering from a horrific injury—isn’t quite finished with this team, or with me. I’ve wanted him gone for so long that part of me is still praying that they don’t extend him yet again.
But there’s new part of me now, one that’s praying for Kirk to heal up so that he gets a chance to finish what he started. This man is a really, really fucking good quarterback. The best long-term Vikings QB of my lifetime. That notion used to feel like an indictment to me. It doesn't feel that way anymore.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Dolphins at Chiefs (Frankfurt): This is the first NFL regular-season game ever played in Frankfurt, and it’s arguably the best game of the season. If I were a football fan living in London right now, I’d be fucking LIVID. For 16 years now, England has been routinely subjected to pairings that make Jets-Giants look like the fucking Super Bowl. And now here are the Germans getting a potential AFC title game preview? IT’S SHITE IS WOT IT IS! I’d egg every single Lufthansa plane I saw if I were a proper lad.
Now as for ME, an American who gets up early every morning, this game is a dream come true. You know how nice it is to not have the game of the week be some shit that stretches past my bedtime? It makes my weekend a million times better. None of that “Aw gee am I a bad fan if I don’t watch the second half?” bullshit. I can just make some strudel for breakfast and chill. It’s perfect. Let’s move the entire NFL to Europe. Much easier than me moving to the West Coast.
Bills at Bengals: Let’s try not to kill anyone this time around, OK boys?
Cowboys at Eagles: Last week the Eagles scored a touchdown on a fake tush push, which was brilliant in both design and execution. You can’t outlaw the tush push now that it’s poised to become a whole formation. I wanna see what other oddball plays come out of this set, and who knows who’ll lose a finger in the process!
Seahawks at Ravens: Last week, Michael-Shawn Dugar and Jayson Jenks of The Athletic wrote a light-hearted oral history of Seahawks team meetings in which Pete Carroll does a lot of amusingly batshit Pete Carroll shit. But the best story in the article is actually an aside about another coach. Prior to the Super Bowl against Denver, Carroll had his chief of staff (did you even know head coaches could have chiefs of staff, like the goddamn president?), Ben Malcolmson, go out in the middle of the night to get a basketball hoop for their pregame meetings, which took place at the Giants' facility. The money part:
Malcolmson: I borrowed a car, went to Walmart in a suburban New Jersey town, got a full-scale basketball hoop, one of those ones where you pour sand or water in the base, then drove to the Giants’ facility. By this point, it’s probably midnight, and I ended up finishing building the hoop at 3 a.m.
Chris Carlisle (strength coach): Tom Coughlin was the coach at the time, and all the Giants people were like: “What are you doing? No, you can’t bring that in. This is a meeting room. This is like church.”
That is the most painfully on-brand Giants shit I’ve ever heard. Football players, having fun? This is not the Giants Way! What are the odds that Johnny Mara tried to have Pete fined for that shit? I say 10,000 percent.
Chargers at Jets: We need to have a serious talk with the NFL—with Nike, really—about the scourge of monochrome uniforms. I thought they’d put this shit to bed after the great Bills-Jets colorblindness fiasco of ’15, but no! No, they’re still trotting out the long johns as if that never happened. Look at this shit. FUCKING LOOK AT IT!
It gets even worse. Look at what the poor Lions were forced to wear just four days ago:
Don’t you “Old Man Yells At Cloud” at me on this. Regardless of your age, these uniforms look like absolute shit, and always have. Maybe all-whites work, but every other monochrome getup looks like it’s bedtime for little Billy and his playmates. The NFL finally allowed alternate helmets this season, and that should have improved on-field appearances considerably. WRONG. I still have the Lions up there dressed like they’re starring in an Ingmar Bergman film. The fuck ever happened to contrast, I ask you? If you wanna know why everyone loves the throwbacks this season (myself included), this is why. Those unis were actually designed by someone, not cut out from a single, enormous sheet of construction paper. I won’t back down from this take. Fuck you.
Titans at Steelers: If Will Levis turns out to be legit after I made fun of him, and he sure looks to be, I’m gonna be annoyed. No one makes me look dumb, except half the free world! YOU HEAR ME, MAYO BOY?!
Rams at Packers: I know my team won the battle but lost the war on Sunday, but that shouldn’t prohibit me from saying the obvious: The Packers are, to my great relief, awful. They get flagged on every other play. They still employ a head coach who refuses to give Aaron Jones the ball enough. They haven’t scored a first-half touchdown since Week 2. And Jordan Love—sweet, simple Jordan Love—is a bust and a half.
Green Bay was supposed to be all brilliant for grooming Love to be the starter over the course of three years, the same way they did Aaron Rodgers. Well, guess what? This guy can’t play for SHIT. The Vikings had a lead on Jordan Love all last week and I wasn’t worried for a millisecond, and my team EXISTS to blow leads (and vital tendons). That’s how unimposing Jordan Love is. Meanwhile, Levis and C.J. Stroud and both came right out of the gate kicking major ass. You clowns out there who bent over backward all preseason to proclaim Love the next big thing deserve to eat shit. Literally. I want you to scoop up a big handful of shit and then chow down on it like the diseased scum that you are. I’ve more than earned the right to gloat over your wrongness.
Bucs at Texans
Vikings at Falcons
Commanders at Patriots: There are, much to America’s disappointment, no pictures available of Bill Belichick shirtless online. This is a pity, because I’ve seen Belichick enough times now to believe that he is an intensely hairy man under there. I present his arms as potential evidence.
Look how thick and dark that arm hair is. I have every reason to believe that hair continues up the forearm and then amasses, with great density, all over his back. Real Magilla Gorilla shit. The only potential evidence to the contrary is that Belichick often wear open collars and doesn’t have chest hair peeking out of it, as also shown above. It’s possible he shaves the very top of his chest to prevent any hair from making itself known … the man is a stickler for detail, after all. But even if his chest hair is relatively sparse, I bet he’s got weird patches of hair everywhere else thanks to that Balkan blood coursing through his veins. And I bet his asscrack is a real jungle! Think about it!
Bears at Saints: Hey Matt Eberflus, why do you guys keep disappearing assistant coaches for unnamed, possibly sinister behavior?
"The culture in our building is outstanding," Eberflus said. "The guys work hard every single day. The relationship piece is there. We care about each other. We're working diligently to get this thing turned. We're 2-2 in our last four. One game was real close, we had a chance at that one. We really feel we're turning the corner there, and we are excited about this week.
"But to answer your question, our culture is awesome."
Sure looks it!
Colts at Panthers
Giants at Raiders
Cardinals at Browns
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Pump It,” by Electric Callboy. You might remember these gentlemen from an earlier Jamboroo, when they went under a slightly different name. They have since changed their name in a craven bow to wokeness. But their patented brand of boy-band death metal is still hardly for snowflakes! Reader Jesse:
This German Electronicore band makes working out fun again. Every drummer should be required to play while on a treadmill.
They should. I love a good, horny, workout-themed music video. Kylie Minogue and Eric Prydz know what I’m talking about. Anyway, you might listen to Electric Callboy the first time and say to yourself, “This is fucking stupid.” You got that right. THAT is why they kick so much ass.
Eric Adams’s Lock Of The Week: Titans (+3) over Steelers
“Now I’ve lived in Nashville my whole life, and lemme tell you: We are known as the Musical City. This town didn’t have any music at all until I started our Wet Newspaper Initiative, where our men at the MNPD would soak old newspapers in heavy water and then throw them at blues singers who were taking up space out on our precious city corners. That was enough to get those singers into the studio, where they belonged! And the rest is history!”
2023 Record: 5-3
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2023 chopping block:
Josh McDaniels – FIRED!
(*potential midseason firing)
Someone on Bluesky got spicy with me last week because I hadn’t put Daboll on this list yet. My reasoning was, “Hey man, Daboll did such a good job last year that he gets a bit of a grace period.” After last week’s atrocity, I now consider that grace period to be over. Even if the Jets got a whole lotta help from the timekeeper at the end of regulation in that game, there’s no excuse for what Daboll’s Giants did to America that day. Unforgivable.
Also, the Commanders are clearly tanking, so I give Ron two weeks before he gets his ticket.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Josh sends in this story I call TOP GUT:
I'm in the Air Force at a Middle East base. Typical military camp: Massive tent city, WITH bathrooms and showers super far away. As is traditional, you get massive explosive diarrhea the first week you're there. even though everyone drinks bottled water, it’s inevitable. Don't question tradition.
So I'm feeling the urge to poo and excuse myself to begin the long walk to the shitter. About 50 yards into the trip, it starts to feel real urgent. My belly is rumbling and cramping like I'm About to birth an alien. I pick up the pace, realizing this is an emergency.
Then it happens. *BOOM* Massive explosion of shit in my pants and then down my legs.
At this point, I'm halfway to the shitter. In resignation, I turn around and go back to my tent to grab my shower supplies. Then I walk, in my shitty pants, to the showers instead… grossing out my tentmates with the horrible smell in the process. Sorry, guys.
See now, this is why I never wanted to join the military. It wasn’t the whole “you’re going to get killed in action” thing, it was the “you have to live like a refugee on Tattooine” thing. I need proper beds and toilets and am not willing to sacrifice them for my countrymen.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Phuket! From Patrick:
The tourist mecca of Phuket, Thailand is a lot to deal with. Sweaty, hairy old white men trot their teenage prostitutes up and down the beaches. Endless tides of plastic bottles wash ashore and get buried in the sand. Raw sewage flows from the glitzy resorts straight onto the coral reefs, killing anything the hordes of tourists don't smash with their fins. A true paradise lost.
Depressed yet? Luckily there is Phuket Beer. Like most of the tweens working the Phuket streets, it is made in Cambodia. A majestic hornbill adorns the can, a bird that has been hunted to near extinction in Thailand. And like Archer Beer, Phuket is not commonly found in Thailand, and for good reason. Apparently some of the sewage/microplastic seawater made its way into the brewery. Throw in a strong aluminum taste and the accelerated blackout that only SE Asian alcohol can provide, and you have a beer that makes waking up at 7am Indochina time to watch the Giants vs. Jets tolerable.
Patrick, if you think this dissuades me from wanting to both go to Phuket and drink it, you are wrong. I live for the scuzz.
Gameday Movie Of The Week For Panthers Fans
Bottoms, which has nearly the same plot as Booksmart, only with lots of gratuitous comedic violence AND Marshawn Lynch stealing every scene he’s in. Not enough comedies are this insane. Four stars. Oscar for Marshawn.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Oh goody, the Sea Monkeys I ordered have arrived. Hehehe, look at them cavort and caper!
“Sir, they're the new winter caretakers for the lodge.”
“Yes, they work hard and they play hard!”
Enjoy the games, everyone.