Takeaways from Netflix’s Quarterback

  Netflix made an eight-episode documentary series that followed quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes II, Kirk Cousins, and Marcus Mariota. The series, Quarterback, followed the three players throughout their seasons in 2022 and into the playoffs in 2023. The documentary series is put together very well and lends a great peek into the life of an NFL quarterback. While we get a clear view of the opulence that comes as a direct result of gaudy contracts in the form of huge houses, fancy cars, and amenities galore, we also get a view of the responsibility and pressure, physical and mental, that comes from playing one of the most important positions in all of sports. Vikings fans saw behind the scenes of one of the best seasons the franchise has had in recent memory and how their quarterback navigates it. Here’s what I took away from Netflix’s newest sports documentary series.

Kirk Was Hurt for Most of the 2022 Season
After the end of any NFL season, we hear about injuries that NFL players played through despite the physical limitations. Matthew Stafford has played through countless injuries in his career and once won a game for the Lions while dealing with a separated shoulder. Stories like these are far more common than you would expect, football is a tough game with little to no forgiveness on the players’ bodies. Kirk Cousins was dealing with rib issues all season long that originated from a hit in Week 8 from Daron Payne against the Washington Commanders that knocked the wind out of him.

The very next week Cousins played one of the most exciting games in Vikings history in a win over the Bills. That performance alone proves the toughness of Kirk Cousins. While he may not exude a natural toughness, he surprisingly has only missed two starts in his five years with the team. His uncontrollable groaning was tough to listen to during the documentary series, particularly in the Bills game, however, it evidenced the amount of pain he was persevering through to earn the team the win. His gritty endurance has been an underrated asset for the Vikings that goes unacknowledged because of his perception in the media as a “fragile” quarterback. While his toughness and gritty mindset are a great asset, he needs much better protection on the inside. He was knocked down more than any other quarterback in the league with 84, the next closest was Justin Herbert at 71. The Vikings’ offensive line must improve to keep Cousins healthy and in good shape if they want to succeed in the playoffs.

Cousins is not Mahomes
Everyone knows this one. Mahomes is in a league of his own in the NFL after winning his second Super Bowl at the age of 27. Mahomes is a pure competitor and can never be counted out of a game. Many thought his team was outmatched in the Super Bowl against the Eagles, the Eagles had the better roster, however, Mahomes is good enough to make up for all of that and lead his team to another Lombardi. Cousins lacks that mentality that separates Mahomes from the pack. That mentality that convinces himself that he will win every game no matter what, some call it the mamba mentality after Kobe Bryant, some call it a killer instinct, a mindset that only the best of the best have. Cousins is a great competitor, but he does not have that extra quality that can will a team to a win, even when the team is a big underdog.

Sure, Cousins has the biggest comeback in NFL history and the biggest comeback in Commanders history, but the “you like that” version of Cousins does not come out enough to carry a team into meaningful postseason success. Until that version and mentality can come out regularly, he will not be able to carry a team to a Super Bowl victory without a lot of help. Unless a huge upgrade comes on the defensive side of the ball and the inside of the offensive line, the Vikings will not be sniffing a Lombardi with Cousins at the helm.

The Quarterback documentary series was fun and allowed a great peak behind the curtain of a quarterback’s life. The series made Cousins seem far more likable and fun than how his image is usually portrayed in the media, but it showed the difference between an above-average quarterback and one of the best to ever do it. The quarterback position is so important in the NFL and without that killer instinct in a quarterback, good luck finding the promised land.

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