Vikings Film Room: Kirk Cousins is throwing with more aggression & anticipation

The previous few seasons saw Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins struggle to throw the ball consistently with both anticipation and an aggressive style.

With the addition of head coach Kevin O’Connell, the hope was that he could bring some of that out of Cousins. There was some reservation from a lot of people – including myself – that he could do that. Cousins after all is 34 years old and it’s hard for any veteran of that many years to adjust his style of play.

Luckily for the Vikings, Cousins has been able to show substantial growth in this area and it was on full display on Sunday. We identified four throws that show how Cousins is throwing with both aggression and anticipation.

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Narrow window

This is a sneaky aggressive throw. On the surface, it doesn’t feel like it is, but the window is very narrow and Cousins hits Justin Jefferson with a low throw where only he can get it and the likelihood of a tipped ball decreases significantly. It also is a situation where if Cousins misses the throw too far out, it could be what is called a hospital ball: a pass where the receiver is led right into a big hit. Perfect execution from Cousins.

Hitting the backside dig

The blitz helps this one exponentially because it opens up the throwing lane considerably. Jefferson runs a backside dig here and Cousins doesn’t even wait for Jefferson to make his break to decide to throw this ball. He hits Jefferson perfectly in the hole and allows Jefferson a chance to get some vital yards after the catch. This is a staple throw in this offense and one that Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp dominated opposing defenses with last year.

Crossing route

This crossing route that Jefferson is running isn’t open until the ball arrives and Cousins anticipates it perfectly. The window to get it to Jefferson is very narrow because the sideline is creeping up and the throw couldn’t have been any better.

Cover 2 holeshot

This shows a level of aggressiveness that Cousins hasn’t had before. He’s made a few of these throws when the Vikings were down in the past, but Cousins is now making these throws much more consistently and with efficiency.

Jefferson runs a simple out and up against the Patriots’ cover-2 defense and Cousins throws this in the perfect spot. 10 years ago, Devin McCourty annihilates Jefferson with a bone-chilling hit, but rules outlawed those hits for player safety reasons. Instead, McCourty hits him slightly harder than normal and Jefferson has no issue hanging on. Excellent stuff from Cousins and Jefferson.

Anticipation on out routes is pivotal

This is a simple out route, but hitting it with timing means everything. If you throw it too late or behind the receiver, it can give the defender an easy interception. On this play, Cousins throws the ball with perfect timing and the chemistry he and T.J. Hockenson have developed in such a short time is substantial and excellent.

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Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire