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Paul Klee: The book on (future Broncos quarterback?) Kirk Cousins

By: Paul Klee
February 3, 2018 Updated: February 4, 2018 at 7:34 am
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DENVER — Several big-money Broncos are openly and vigorously lobbying for Kirk Cousins as their next quarterback. Is it fair to assume they’ll take a pay cut to bring him here?

“We need to find a way to make that happen,” C.J. Anderson said on NFL Network.

“We need Kirk,” Von Miller said on Dan Patrick's show. “I would like to have Kirk.”

Whether he arrives via the NFL draft, free agency or trade, the next quarterback of the Broncos can’t be a stopgap. He must be an alpha, a leader, a dynamic personality. The Broncos locker room is Dr. Jekyll (defense) and Mr. Hide (offense). The next QB’s job is the balancing act.

Kansas City's trade of Alex Smith to Washington opens the door for such a move — to Colorado? Minnesota? Arizona? New York (Jets, not Giants)?

"I expect to be a free agent come March 14," Cousins said on Sirius radio.

Does Cousins, 29, possess the chutzpah to work in the shadow of quarterback greats John Elway and Peyton Manning in Denver? Last week I read Cousins’ book — “Game Changer: Faith, football and finding your way,” published by Zonderkids in 2013 — to learn if Captain Kirk is the right man for the job.

One news publication that follows the Spartan football team closely ranked me as the 20th best recruit out of a signing day class consisting of, you guessed it, 20 players. -Page 39

Perfect. The Broncos must eradicate the entitlement that was the theme of a season-ending press conference with bigwigs Joe Ellis and John Elway: “A characteristic kind of seeped into our building,” Ellis said. Before Michigan State stepped in, Cousins had only scholarship offers from Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan (and a grayshirt offer from the University of Colorado, where he would have delayed enrollment until January). He once stood fifth (out of five) on Sparty's depth chart. At 170 pounds out of Holland (Mich.) Christian, Cousins had to work to become, potentially, a $30-million-per-year NFL quarterback.

I’d like to think Jesus would have made a great football player. -Page 46

Tebowmania, meet Cousinshysteria. “Game Changer” is a 200-page devotional from a devout Christian who is unafraid to share his beliefs with the world. His unbending Christian faith is the driving force behind Cousins’ improbable rise — from MAC-level college prospect to most-coveted NFL free agent since Peyton Manning. Instead of the rap music that fills locker rooms, Cousins pregames with Lincoln Brewster’s rendition of “Everlasting God.” When Cousins was drafted in the fourth round by the Redskins, one of his first prayer requests was a church near the team's practice facility. Got a sticky situation on third-and-long? Cousins has a Bible verse for that.

I wasn’t a Notre Dame fan, but I was a fan of the movie “Rudy.” -Page 64

Who isn’t? This is a man of the people. Plus, Rudy could help on special teams.

In that moment, I determined to do everything in my power in my four remaining years to bring Michigan State to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. -Page 88

Cousins and the Spartans never made it to the Rose Bowl. In the 2011 Big Ten title game — despite Cousins completing 15 of 17 passes in the first half and three touchdowns overall — they were beaten by Wisconsin and quarterback Russell Wilson. Who in Broncos Country can’t relate? But it’s how you respond to losing a big one to Russell Wilson — two years later, preferably, in Super Bowl 50 — that really matters.

In fact, I took school very seriously. I was the kind of guy who got nervous before a 10-point quiz in sophomore geometry class. -Page 106

Enough with the measurables. Can the next quarterback here please think the game? The first red flag rose above Paxton Lynch when then-coordinator Rick Dennison said the team had to shrink the playbook for a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. (In contrast, Manning was so detailed in his approach that he would ask the third-string quarterback which corners of the field the wind had affected his pregame warmup routine.) In evaluating the next quarterback, the Broncos must value social skills and cognitive ability over height (“he’s tall”) and arm strength. Point, Captain Kirk.

It’s scary to admit, but all three of us (siblings Kirk, Kyle, Karalyne) sang and danced in musicals. Video recordings are locked away. -Page 110

As Von Miller would tell him, dancing isn’t only encouraged at Mile High. It’s a way of life.

It appears that many social media users are begging for the praise of man. We can’t wait to post the next clever comment; we can’t wait to upload the next awesome pictures (of ourselves). -Page 146

This being a deep dive into Captain Kirk’s persona, his social media history must be a point of emphasis. Cousins (@KirkCousins8) has tweeted 10 times in 2018. He’s tweeted a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King (“Accept finite disappointment. But never lose infinite hope.”). He’s tweeted a 30-day diet (“this is just brutal”). A dedicated Big Ten fan, he honored the late, great Keith Jackson (“Whoa, Nelly. He will be missed.). His Instagram is a collage of wife Julie, infant son Cooper and their Labradoodle, Bentley. Good. They’re dog people. So is Colorado.

Chapter 12: No one succeeds alone -Page 162

Yes, 14 of the last 15 AFC champions had Manning, Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. (The lone exception was Joe Flacco in 2013. We won’t talk about that.) But two straight seasons without a playoff appearance strongly suggests the Broncos have issues other than quarterback they must address. The Broncos have $27 million in cap space. That’s not enough to claim Cousins and fill holes at tackle, tight end, running back and linebacker. One man’s plan: sign Cousins, use the No. 5 pick to take the best player in the draft, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who replaces $12 million cornerback Aqib Talib. Then address the rest in the draft, where the Broncos have struggled, and free agency, where they have flourished.

“Kirk, this is Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins. We will be selecting in two picks and we’re going to draft you.” -Page 176

The ex-Broncos coach — who should be up for the Ring of Fame any day now — owns a steadfast belief in Cousins. Shanahan drafted Cousins even after he took another quarterback, Robert Griffin III, in the same draft. Then last week Shanahan doubled down on his Cousins love, telling the New York Daily News: “There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s a special player.” If references are available upon request, a great one is just down the road in Cherry Hills.

Is Kirk Cousins qualified for Broncos Country's biggest job? Book it.

Twitter: @bypaulklee

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