Vikings face uncertain future after losing Kirk Cousins to Achilles injury

The Minnesota Vikings are dealing with a devastating blow to their playoff hopes after losing star quarterback Kirk Cousins to a season-ending Achilles injury. Cousins, who was having a career-best year, suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Vikings’ 24-10 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The Vikings are now left with limited options at the most important position on the field and have to decide how to move forward without their leader.


Cousins was playing at an elite level

Before his injury, Cousins was enjoying one of the best seasons of his career. He had thrown for 2,718 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only three interceptions in eight games, ranking second in the NFL in passer rating (115.7) and touchdown percentage (7.8). He had led the Vikings to four wins in their last five games, including impressive victories over the Seattle Seahawks and the Packers. He had also established a strong rapport with his receivers, especially rookie sensation Justin Jefferson, who has 767 yards and six touchdowns on 50 catches.

Cousins had signed a two-year, $66 million contract extension with the Vikings in March, keeping him under team control through 2022. He had expressed his desire to stay in Minnesota and win a Super Bowl with the franchise. However, his injury puts his future with the team in doubt, as he will turn 34 next year and face a long recovery process.

Vikings have few options at quarterback

With Cousins out for the season, the Vikings have to rely on their backup quarterbacks to keep their playoff hopes alive. The problem is, none of them have much experience or success in the NFL. The current starter is Sean Mannion, who was signed by the Vikings two weeks ago after being released by the Los Angeles Rams. Mannion has only started three games in his seven-year career, losing all of them. He has completed 62.4% of his passes for 384 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

The other option is Nick Mullens, who is on injured reserve with an elbow injury and cannot return until Week 11 at the earliest. Mullens played for the San Francisco 49ers from 2018 to 2020, starting 16 games and posting a record of 5-11. He has thrown for 4,714 yards, 25 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, with a passer rating of 87.2. He is familiar with Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who was his quarterbacks coach in San Francisco last year.

The Vikings could also look to add another quarterback via trade or free agency, but the options are slim at this point of the season. Some of the names that have been mentioned are Cam Newton, Blake Bortles, Josh Rosen and Colin Kaepernick. However, none of them are likely to make a significant impact or fit well with the Vikings’ offense.

Vikings still have a chance to make the playoffs

Despite losing Cousins, the Vikings are not out of the playoff race yet. They are currently 4-4 and hold the seventh seed in the NFC, thanks to their tiebreaker over the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers. They have a favorable schedule ahead, with only two games against teams with winning records (the Baltimore Ravens and the Los Angeles Rams). They also have four divisional games left, including two against the struggling Chicago Bears.

The Vikings will need to lean on their running game and defense to carry them through the rest of the season. They have one of the best running backs in the league in Dalvin Cook, who has rushed for 584 yards and six touchdowns on 121 carries. He also has 25 receptions for 200 yards and a touchdown. Cook is capable of carrying a heavy workload and breaking big plays at any moment.

The Vikings’ defense has also improved from last year, when it ranked 27th in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed. This year, they rank 14th in points allowed and 12th in yards allowed. They have a solid pass rush led by Danielle Hunter, who has nine sacks and three forced fumbles. They also have a veteran secondary featuring Harrison Smith, Patrick Peterson and Xavier Woods.

The Vikings will need to play mistake-free football and hope that their backup quarterbacks can manage the game and make enough plays to win. They will also need some help from other teams to secure a playoff spot. It will not be easy, but it is not impossible.

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