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Kirk Cousins to the Atlanta Falcons Makes Perfect Sense

After his thirty-minute media appearance, Kirk Cousins briefly grinned and departed, proceeding to the Peachtree Hills suburbs with his wife Julie Hampton to look for a place to live. To Kirk, Atlanta offered more than just a place to stay, it was his home. His first date with his wife, Julie, took place in Roswell, Georgia. Later in 2014, he got married in Atlanta. In addition, their younger son Turner was born at a hospital located on Ted Turner Drive in downtown Atlanta two years later. The signing of Cousins by the Atlanta Falcons is comparable to Adam Sandler becoming the lead actor in Uncut Gems in that both are heavily overpaid. However, does that still mean that Kirk Cousins offers a lot to the table? Of course, he has arguably been one of the most dependable quarterbacks since 2015, and this article explains why and how well he fits in with the Atlanta Falcons.

❝𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐭’𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐭𝐛𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐦. 𝐈 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧, 𝐈’𝐦 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐟𝐟. 𝐌𝐞𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐲𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐫, 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐏.𝐑. 𝐈’𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐰𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐭 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟.❞

Following the execution of a 180 million dollar deal, Kirk Cousins expressed his gratitude for the Atlanta Falcons organization, signaling that the next four seasons would be the start of something simple and refreshing for Atlanta: the opportunity to compete for a championship. Although Kirk Cousins’ 2023 campaign ended prematurely due to a torn achilles, one could make the case that he played arguably his best football despite turning 36 in August. Before getting hurt, Cousins led the Minnesota Vikings to an adequate 4-4 record. With 18 touchdowns and 2,331 passing yards, he led the league in both categories. Furthermore, Minnesota was ninth in Estimated Points Added (EPA) per dropback and eleventh in Estimated Points Added (EPA) per play under the guidance of Kirk. Moreover, he also had an outstanding passing grade (85.1, 5th in the league) before injury. However, this begs the question: why were the Vikings just a .500 if Cousins had such an impact? There are several causes, however a few of the primary ones include the Vikings' defense being lackluster within the first few weeks, missing key starters due to injuries, and misfortune during crunch time. It also doesn't help that they started the season 0-3 due to Philadelphia's Jake Elliot converting a field goal from 61 yards, Tampa kicking a game-winning field goal, their nine turnovers resulting in twenty points scored by the opposing teams, and Justin Jefferson fumbling out of the end zone for a touchback. To make matters even worse, the Minnesota Vikings run game was abysmal this season, figuratively, the Gopher State ended up releasing Dalvin Cook, leaving trust in Alexander Mattison to take the reins for the starter as running back...and let’s say it didn’t go exactly as planned. The Vikings ended up finishing the season 29th in rushing yards, a severe downgrade compared to the 2022-23 campaign. 

Fortunately, Atlanta’s reality differs drastically from the Purple and Gold. The Atlanta Falcons possess one of the best running games in the league, accounting for 2,159 rushing yards and finishing ninth in the league. Additionally, the tandem of Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeir was said to be one of the best running combos in the league, with Robinson averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 976 rushing yards, whereas Allgeier had roughly 700 yards and averaged nearly 4 yards per rushing attempt. While the Raheem Morris led team has no Justin Jefferson, they still have adequate weapons on the offensive end; (a) for one, they have Drake London, who is establishing himself as one of the league’s premier talents, (b) they acquired slot receiver Rondale Moore through a trade this off-season, and (c) signed one of the league’s better route-runners in Darnell Mooney. In addition to that, Though Pitts has scored only five touchdowns since his rookie season and still struggles at run-blocking, he remains an extremely gifted player—he has a rare blend of size, speed, athleticism paired with his alluring route running. During the course of these past two seasons, the Falcons lacked a competent quarterback, bouncing between Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, and eventually journeyman Taylor Heinicke. Luckily for Pitts, he will have the opportunity to showcase his catching abilities during contested plays and also develop into a red zone threat under the presence of Kirk Cousins. Lastly, the Atlanta Falcons possess something that the Minnesota Vikings also had: an outstanding offensive line. Last season, the Falcons offensive line finished with a grade of 87.4, which ended up being second in the league. While Chris Lindstrom is quite easily their best player (Pro Football Focus), they still have an exceptional offensive line thanks to Jake Matthews, Matthew Bergeron, Drew Dalman, etc. If the Falcons continue to keep up their prowess on the offensive line, Kirk Cousins seems to be in capable hands during the 2024 season. 

Now you might be asking yourself, why does Kirk Cousins play-style mesh seamlessly with the Falcons? Typically, Kirk has been a relatively accurate passer throughout his career, completing roughly 68 percent of his passes during his stint with Minnesota, and even led the league in completion percentage (69.8%) in 2015. Furthermore, he has the ability to maximize his weapons to the fullest—as seen in Minnesota with Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Jordan Addison, and Stefon Diggs. According to the Falcoholic, Kirk knows the schemes Raheem Morris intends on running during the upcoming season, since it resembles the offense his former coach Kevin O'Connell ran the past two seasons. Both O'Connell and Morris are fond of one another since they worked under acclaimed head coach Sean McVay. In those offenses, Kirk generally has excelled in offenses that relied on timing, accuracy, play action, and strong in center, which is exactly what the Dirty Birds intend on doing next season. Oftentimes, the NFC South has been a generally weak division, with the NFC South Champions winning on average 8.5 games each season since 2022. Thankfully, Kirk and Atlanta have a sufficient chance at winning the division next season, even if they do not click on cylinders immediately. 

Lastly, I'd like to preface this before ending this article by saying that Kirk Cousins is a fringe top-ten quarterback—he isn't average by any means, but he surely is not a superstar.  During his time with the Vikings, he went 50-37-1, was responsible for going 13-4 and 11-1 in one score games in 2022, and even won them a playoff game in 2019. He has several seasons in which he has tossed for over 4,200 yards, 29 touchdowns, and over 67% completion rate. To add onto that, he has never thrown below 25 passing touchdowns during his starting career, which is considered above average. Based on Inside the Vikings, Kirk Cousins has earned a PFF passing grade of at least 77.7 every season in Minnesota, flourishing during big plays and also play action. While he cannot compete with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson, and CJ Stroud, he certainly has been one of the premier quarterbacks in the league within the past decade or so. Ultimately, Atlanta is lucky to have him for the remaining four seasons as they look to have their first competent quarterback since Matt Ryan. 

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