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Mike Zimmer defends Kirk Cousins in end-of-season presser

Kirk Cousins’ first season with the Minnesota Vikings ended in disappointment, but Mike Zimmer stood by his embattled franchise quarterback during Thursday’s end-of-season press conference.

Cousins, fresh off signing a three-year contract worth a guaranteed $84 million, had a relatively underwhelming 2018 season. While he put up decent statistical numbers, backbreaking turnovers and a failure to rise to the occasion in big games cast Cousins in a negative light during Minnesota’s 8-7-1 campaign.

With the Vikings’ demoralizing win-and-in loss to the Chicago Bears in the rear view mirror, Zimmer insists Cousins, who played poorly in Week 17, was not solely to blame for the team’s season ending in disappointment after starting with Super Bowl aspirations.

“It’s about the football team,” Zimmer said Thursday during his 2018 season post-mortem, via the Star Tribune. “One guy doesn’t win games, one guy doesn’t lose football games, I don’t take it that way. I have a lot of confidence in Kirk, I’ve talked to him, I’ve talked to other people about what I can do to help him moving forward.

“He was a great teammate, he studied real hard … I’m sure there are some areas where he can get better, and I’m sure he’d be the first one to tell you that.”

More than anything, Zimmer pointed to a lack of the correct mindset as the main reason for the Vikings’ downfall in 2018.

“It’s a different vibe with this football team, and I don’t know exactly why … for some reason, we didn’t finish the games like we did before. We’re going to get that mentality back.”

Regarding rumors he was considering either resigning or retiring, Zimmer’s patented, curmudgeonly old-school football coach mentality shined through, not to mention an amusing attempt at social-media jargon.

“I can’t believe someone threw that out there,” Zimmer said. “It was totally, whatever they call it, hashtag fake news.”