The Minnesota Vikings offense has looked quite a bit different this season. While head coach Kevin O’Connell runs a version of the wide zone system that the Vikings have used over the last few years,
O’Connell runs the Sean McVay version of the offense, which focuses more on running 11 personnel and incorporating more modern concepts like jet motion and prioritizing the shotgun.
That last element has proven to be interesting for the Vikings. Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins played well in the Shanahan/Kubiak wide zone and transitioning him to the McVay version was always going to be interesting.
One of those reasons is the fact that a lot of their plays are run from the shotgun. It isn’t a set where he has had a lot of success in a Vikings uniform.
Per Sports Info Solutions, we have Cousins splits when running the offense out of the shotgun.
2018: 522 dropbacks, 326/475 3,250 yards, 22 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
2019: 243 dropbacks, 143/223 1,776 yards, 9 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
2020: 297 dropbacks, 182/266 2,078 yards, 15 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
2021: 369 dropbacks, 217/344 2,453 yards, 18 touchdowns, 4 interceptions
2022: 145 dropbacks, 90/137 901 yards, 4 touchdowns, 4 interceptions
If you project out what Cousins would have based on his start, it would look like this.
411 dropbacks 255/388 2,553 yards 11 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Cousins isn’t necessarily bad in the shotgun but it’s hard to call him good in that regard. His 2018 season with John DeFillipo was the season with the highest time in the shotgun and that didn’t work for a myriad of reasons. The splits between shotgun and under center in his Vikings career are staggering.
Shotgun: 1,576 dropbacks, 958/1,445 for 10,458, 68 touchdowns, 29 interceptions
Under center: 969 dropbacks, 646/910 for 7,431 yards, 65 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
There are some circumstances built in here like garbage time and trying to come from behind a lot (especially reflective in 2020). The numbers really bare out how much more effective and smarter with the football Cousins is under center.
Some of that is just comfortability. Cousins thrives with play-action and plays with boot-action and that is mostly taken out of the equation when you run plays out of the shotgun.
How will the offense continue to evolve with O’Connell after the bye week? That remains to be seen, but utilizing Cousins under center more might be the way to help unlock it.