Minnesota Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph Discusses Kirk Cousins, Defense

Each unit has had its moments, but the Vikings (1-2-1) have not played complementary football this season

Tiki and Tierney
October 29, 2018 - 9:20 am

USA Today Images

After going 13-3, advancing to the NFC Championship, and signing Kirk Cousins, the Minnesota Vikings entered the season with lofty expectations. One month into the season, however, things have not gone as planned.

“Obviously we’re not where we want to be at 1-2-1,” Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said on Tiki and Tierney. “We knew it was going to be a tough stretch there to start the season, but each and every week in this league you’re playing against good football teams. Unfortunately for us, we’ve each taken a turn in terms of a phase of our football team not stepping up. We haven’t played as a team yet.”

The Vikings opened the season with a win against San Francisco but have since tied the Packers (29-29) and lost to the Bills (27-6) and Rams (38-31). Each unit has been at fault at different points in the season, but Cousins has been more than solid. He has completed 69.3 percent of his passes for 1,387 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.

“Kirk is one of the most competitive guys that I’ve ever been around,” Rudolph said. “It was fun throughout the offseason going against our defense every day in practice because it’s one of the more talented defenses in football. It’s fun competing against them all offseason with Kirk’s competitive mentality.”

The coaching staff would put the offense in not-great situations – 3rd-and-longs – to see Cousins and that unit responded.

“Everyone knows it’s in the defense’s favor,” Rudolph said, “but yet, he still would get so upset when we wouldn’t convert or we wouldn’t win situations that may have been titled a little bit in the defense’s favor. That’s something that I love about him. I love going out on Sundays and playing with him because we share that competitive drive. Neither one of us like losing in anything. With that being said, unfortunately we’ve been behind in all three of our last three games and we’ve had to throw the ball probably a little more than ever Kirk would like. We’ve kind of built an identity around here of running the football, playing good defense and then making opportunistic plays in the pass game. You’re not able to do that when you’re down multiple scores and playing from behind. But Kirk has been phenomenal all season.”

Defensively, the Vikings have been hit or miss – mostly miss. They led the league in total defense and scoring defense (15.8 points per game) last season but this year rank 20th and 21st (27.5 points), respectively.

“The talent is there,” Rudolph said. “For us, it’s unfair to kind of judge them throughout the course of the four games. We played a Rams offense that was on fire. We put them in unbelievably bad situations against the Bills, turning the ball over three times, giving up the short field. We never flipped the field once, and so much of our success comes from playing complementary football. But there’s no doubt in my mind that those guys are going to figure it out, and when it’s all said and done at the end of this year, everyone will look at that defense as one of the best defenses in football again.”

Minnesota will face the Eagles (2-2) in an NFC title rematch this Sunday. Kickoff is at 4:25 p.m. ET.

In non-football news, Rudolph added that he loves Call of Duty and is excited for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which comes out Oct. 12.