Wide Left: The Vikings need to learn from the Chiefs and go get their quarterback

It's time for Rick Spielman to pursue a quarterback like it was a fifth-round kicker.
Author:
Publish date:
Rick Spielman

The confetti is still being swept up in Miami as the Super Bowl was everything a casual fan could have asked for. Unlike last year's game, which was an excellent display of the modern era of punting, this year had ups and downs and the end result of the Kansas City Chiefs hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in 50 years.

The Chiefs' victory is something that should hit hard back here in Minnesota. Although Kansas City scored its first Super Bowl victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV, the Chiefs have been so close and yet so far away with agonizing losses that have to have a familiar feel compared to Minnesota's playoff history.

But that's not why I believe the Chiefs victory was so important for Vikings fans. It's because the Chiefs got their long-awaited championship by not settling for an average performance at the quarterback position and going all-in to get Patrick Mahomes.

How the Chiefs controlled their own destiny

The Chiefs' rise started a couple of years ago when Andy Reid was doing Andy Reid things by racking up regular-season victories, but unable to get his team over the hump. With a 51-27 record in his first five seasons in Kansas City, Reid's teams were always good but seemed to stall out in the playoffs.

A lot of the team's success was pinned on the shoulders of Alex Smith, who came over shortly after the arrival of Reid in 2013. Despite being the guy that was selected over Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft, Smith put up great stats and took care of the football averaging 3,521 yards, 20 TD and six interceptions from 2013-17.

But there were flaws in Smith's game that preventing him from getting the big win when needed. His previous team, the San Francisco 49ers, discovered this and that was part of the reason he found himself in Kansas City in the first place.

That's when Kansas City went to work to fix this issue despite having a good, but not great quarterback already on the roster. The Chiefs moved up 17 spots in the 2017 NFL Draft by parting ways with the 27th overall pick, a third-round pick and their 2018 first-round pick to select a Texas Tech quarterback named Patrick Mahomes with the 10th overall selection.

While the Bills got Tre'Davious White and Tremaine Edmunds out of the deal (they traded away the 2017 third-rounder to the Los Angles Rams), the Chiefs got the guy who has turned into the most dynamic quarterback in the NFL.

Fast-forward to the Super Bowl. With the Chiefs down 20-10, Reid did the one thing that any armchair play-caller would do: Put the ball in Mahomes' hands. 

Despite throwing a pair of interceptions earlier in the game, Mahomes led the Chiefs to 21 points in the fourth quarter, a Super Bowl victory and probably a bunch of Super Bowl babies named Patrick or Mahomes who are all due within about nine months. 

What the Vikings can learn from the Chiefs

Unless you've completely buried all the feelings with the 2019 season, you're still probably stinging from the abrupt end to the Vikings' playoff run. One week after scoring an improbable victory in New Orleans, Minnesota was failed by Kirk Cousins who legitimately needs everything to be perfect in order for him to perform.

One year ago, Cousins got the benefit of the doubt. While his stats looked OK, Cousins never seemed to make the big play and the majority believed that he just needed some help with the people around him and a change of the system and everything would be fine.

The offseason came and the Vikings rolled out the red carpet for their $84 million savior. They paid Adam Thielen. They signed Josh Kline and drafted Garrett Bradbury. They added Irv Smith Jr. and proceeded to continue to draft offensive players while Zimmer was distracted watching Deion Sanders highlights in another room. Anything to make Kirk comfortable!

The result was the best season of Cousins' career, marking a full yard increase in his yards per attempt (7.1 to 8.1) and a shiny 26:6 touchdown to interception ratio. Still, when the going got tough, Cousins retreated like a turtle heading back into his shell.

Our hated rival Green Bay held Cousins to 122 yards at home in a Week 16 loss that locked the Vikings into the six seed and even though Cousins played the hero in New Orleans, there were times where the Vikings looked more interested in hiding him in the closet like the mutant stepchild in a horror movie rather than letting him air it out.

Then there was the San Francisco loss where Kirk...well, he did Kirk stuff.

Rick Spielman needs to get his guy

We've gone through two seasons of the Cousins experience and the guy that was supposed to get the Vikings over the hump has taken baby steps, but can't get this team to the Super Bowl. 

The Vikings are going to ride with Cousins no matter what next year (he has a no-trade clause and a $31 million cap hit) and there may be whispers soon about the two sides discussing an extension in the coming weeks because they could do worse.

But Cousins is veering dangerously close to Smith territory. Dating back to his days in Washington, Cousins can lead a team to regular-season wins (hence his 18-12-1 record with the Vikings), but he can't win once he gets punched in the mouth. 

In fact, this might be true for this entire team as they prefer to get a lead, hand the ball off 40 times and let their aging defense take care of everything. It's a bold strategy considering the bulk of the defense could be on the wrong side of 30 next season.

This is where the Chiefs strategy comes in. Since Zimmer came to Minnesota in 2014, he's played musical quarterbacks, but still compiled a 57-38-1 record in six seasons. He's a good coach in the same way that Cousins is a good quarterback, but like Cousins, even Zimmer needs some help.

With the NFL Draft coming sooner than we think, this is a quarterback class that actually has some quality talent. The Vikings won't get Joe Burrow or even Tua Tagovailoa, but an aggressive move to capture Justin Herbert isn't out of the picture and even a later move to get Jake Fromm or Jordan Love would at least give the Vikings something to cross their fingers and hope.

It seems far fetched, but Spielman has shown a willingness to go get his guy when he sees a quarterback he likes. In 2011, he selected Christian Ponder 12th overall when he probably shouldn't have been drafted. In 2015, he traded up to get Teddy Bridgewater. When his knee exploded, he coughed up a first-rounder to get Sam Bradford and when his knees ground into sawdust, he backed up a Brinks truck to get Cousins.

Also remember that this is the guy who loves lighting fifth-round picks on fire to acquire crappy kickers. Why not use one of those late-round picks to get a guy you want?

Cousins is a good quarterback, but with a lack of mobility and improvisation, he's never a guy that Zimmer will walk up to and confidently say "Go win this game." 

With the next generation of quarterbacks including Mahomes finding success, the Vikings need to be the next team to join this trend so that they can end their infinite Super Bowl drought. Otherwise, they'll be another team to settle for mediocrity.

Next Up

Related