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Justin Jefferson Defends Kirk Cousins amid Backlash, Says Vikings QB Is MVP Candidate

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 29, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 24: Kirk Cousins #8 talks to Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings in the first quarter of the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Giants 27-24. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
David Berding/Getty Images

Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson took issue with the criticism that's been directed toward teammate Kirk Cousins.

Jefferson said Thursday that "his numbers are right with y'all's MVP candidates":

JJETS✈️ @JJettas2

All of the Kirk criticism has to stop!! I understand y'all hate the dad swag but come on his numbers are right with y'all's MVP candidates <a href="https://t.co/GOuT4DqwP8">https://t.co/GOuT4DqwP8</a>

In addition to being the starting quarterback of a team that's 12-3, Cousins is fifth in the NFL in passing yards (4,117) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (27). His 51.0 QBR is only good enough for 20th, though, per ESPN.com.

The four-time Pro Bowler has led Minnesota on a league-high eight fourth-quarter comebacks, which is tied for the single-season record. It's the kind of stat where beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

You expect your best players to deliver in clutch situations, and Cousins has done that in spades. Per Pro Football Reference, he has thrown for 1,283 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions with a 104.8 passer rating in the fourth quarter in 2022.

This could also be the case of Cousins having to help dig the Vikings out of holes he has helped to create.

The most extreme case was the historic comeback against the Indianapolis Colts. When Minnesota trailed 33-0 at the half, Cousins had gone 6-of-12 for 43 yards and an interception to that point. He torched the Colts defense for 417 yards and four touchdowns in the second half.

To a large degree, the skepticism toward Cousins is based on what has transpired before this year. He was supposed to be the missing piece of the puzzle, yet the Vikings had just one playoff trip in his first four seasons with the team.

Minnesota as a whole has lived a charmed life, too, leading some to wonder whether the bubble will burst at an inopportune time.

Peter Bukowski @Peter_Bukowski

Vikings offense <br>17th EPA/play <br>19th DOVOA<br>14th success rate <br>18th yards/play <br>17th yards/drive <br>13th points/drive <br><br>Vikings defense <br>14th EPA/play<br>22nd DVOA <br>26th success rate <br>31st yards/play<br>23rd yards/drive <br>18th points/drive<br><br>What do they do well exactly?

As much as Cousins has done to bring an NFC North title to the Vikings, the general narrative around the 34-year-old is unlikely to shift until he delivers the postseason success the franchise clearly aspired to achieve when it signed him in 2018.