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Ask a former NFL player: What if Kirk Cousins and Patrick Mahomes switched teams?

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In this week’s mailbag, Geoff Schwartz examines a Cousins-Mahomes Freaky Friday situation, the top non-QB MVP candidate, and what it’s like playing against a tanking team.

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins throwing a pass on one side; Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes staring ahead on other
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings are struggling, while Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are thriving.

Hey all, it’s time for the Week 5 mailbag! I hope you’ve checked out my offensive line rankings through the first quarter of the season and my predictions for all the 2-2 NFL teams entering this weekend.

If you have questions for next time, hit me up on Twitter or Instagram. Now let’s get to this week’s mailbag.

What would the Chiefs look like with Kirk Cousins at QB, and what would the Vikings look like with Patrick Mahomes at QB? — @PabloBison

I love these types of questions. Perfect for the mailbag. We’ve seen Kirk Cousins with the Chiefs before: Alex Smith. And Alex Smith won double-digit games in multiple seasons with the Chiefs. I would expect the same if Cousins were the quarterback. Andy Reid is a master teacher and play designer. How many Chiefs wide receivers are running open down the field every game? Cousins can hit those guys.

Now, just like Smith, I don’t think Cousins would be able to win many playoff games, which is the difference between him and Mahomes. Pat Mahomes is a special talent. We know this. And he’s paired up with the greatest offensive mind in the game now. They make a terrific duo.

If Mahomes were on the Vikings, he’d be matched with a head coach who’s got the opposite mindset of Reid. Mike Zimmer wants his offense to be conservative, and I think he’d be the same way with Mahomes at quarterback. The best example for this is Seattle with Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll. The offense should be funneled through Wilson, and it’s clearly not. That’s what I’d expect with Mahomes on the Vikings. They’d win a ton of games, but he wouldn’t be the same player he is in Kansas City.

Who’s the top non-QB MVP candidate at this point in the season? — @CJScoobs

The NFL MVP award is now just a quarterback award, which makes sense because they are the most valuable member of a team. We should also have a most outstanding player award that includes offensive and defensive players. That’d be a way that could honor a non-quarterback who’s had an excellent season and deserves something more than offensive or defensive player of the year. OK, off my high horse ...

The top candidate who’s not a quarterback to win the MVP is Shaquil Barrett of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Through four games, he’s got nine sacks and is dominating each game. He’s helping lead the Bucs to a top-10 defense at the moment. My colleague Stephen White broke down Barrett’s play far better than I can, so you should check that out.

You’ve talked about being on a team that’s tanking and how the players and team kind of handle it. How do elite/really good teams prepare to play tanking teams? For instance, if the Chiefs were to be playing Miami this week and the Chargers next week, do they spend more than a day or so game planning for Miami? — @cassgonz1985

I’ll be writing a longer article this season about playing on a tanking team, as I did that in 2010 with the Carolina Panthers. When you’re playing a tanking team like the Dolphins, you keep your usual schedule. Nothing changes. They are still an NFL team and have NFL players, and if you don’t show up and aren’t prepared, you will lose.

In fact, I’d say that when you’re playing an awful team, coaches stress to prepare even more than usual. It’s natural for you to believe that less-than-usual preparation can still lead to victory, so the staff tries to counter that with extra motivation and coaching for the week. Now, you might back off on showing some offensive and defensive scheme for the week, but the preparation does not change.