MINNEAPOLIS — The mounting frustrations on offense were visible for the Minnesota Vikings during their 24-10 season-ending loss to the Chicago Bears. At the end of the first half, tensions between Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen boiled over on the sideline in an exchange captured by broadcast cameras.
The two downplayed the heated incident after the game.
“It was kind of a deal of just trying to be on the same page with the route as to what he was doing,” Cousins said. “And obviously I’m trying to throw it in anticipation and trying to read his body language before he breaks, and just talking about how to make sure that we’re able to come away with the right play there. And he was able also to communicate back to me what he’s doing, why he’s doing what he needs. And so it was just good communication back and forth to get on the same page and try to understand what we each need to be successful.”
Moments before, the Vikings had to settle for a 45-yard field goal to with 1 minute, 4 seconds to play in the second quarter to make it a 10-point game because Cousins did not connect on a third-and-6 pass intended for Thielen.
The Pro Bowl receiver ran a corner route, which Cousins said postgame was the correct execution by Thielen. The discrepancy was on the confusion over the angle of the specific route.
On the sideline, Cousins was seen appearing to direct Thielen on how he should have run the route given the ball the quarterback threw was going to a specific spot that landed not far from where Thielen ended up.
Facing pressure in the pocket seemed to be one reason for the incomplete pass. Cousins was captured by cameras saying “I don’t have 10 seconds” to Thielen when the receiver came off the field, which prompted an animated response from the wideout in the direction of the quarterback.
“Just trying to say if you do that I don’t have time to wait on that usually,” Cousins said. “And I don’t know you’re doing that. And so it just — again those are conversations he and I have. To talk about it now, it’s going to get misconstrued and misinterpreted.”
Kirk Cousins addresses his animated conversation with Adam Thielen, saying the pair disagreed on the route Thielen was supposed to run.
Thielen clarified that the exchange with Cousins was not meant to be him voicing his frustrations at the quarterback as it appeared on television.
“Number one, it wasn’t between Kirk and I,” Thielen said. “It was a little frustration on myself for not getting open, maybe, and a little frustration with not getting opportunities. But it definitely wasn’t anything with Kirk, and it actually turned out to be a really good conversation. We talked a lot about what I could have done better, and on what we could have done in the second half to exploit their defense. It was a good conversation.”
But this isn’t the first time Thielen was captured voicing his frustrations with the offense. Three weeks ago in a loss at Seattle, ESPN’s Monday Night Football field mics picked up audio of Thielen saying, “it’s been there all f—ing night” ahead a 35-yard catch-and-run ahead of the two-minute warning in the second half.
Cousins, who was 9-for-14 for 44 yards and sacked twice in the first half, finished with a career-low 132 yards passing. The Vikings averaged 1.96 yards per play in the first half, their lowest in the first half this season.
“Adam’s my guy,” Cousins said. “He’s the best. I want to have more of those conversations. I actually liked the passion back and forth. I want to do more of that. I want to let us both be who we are and have those discussions, because he’s the kind of guy we can do that with going forward.”