‘Superdad’ Kirk Cousins already commanding the room in Atlanta

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Kirk Cousins has a mission this season. Win games, yes. Bring a Super Bowl to Atlanta, sure. But first: He wants his new, very young teammates to appreciate his taste in movies.

“I’ll quote ‘Heavyweights’ with Ben Stiller, and it’s just crickets,” said 35-year-old Cousins, referencing a 29-year-old movie. “I'll get a laugh from way over in the other side of the locker room from [32-year-old] Jake Matthews because he knows the reference.”

Cousins being Cousins, he’s already planning a watch party to introduce the rest of his new teammates. Not only that, in true dad form, he’s divined a message from the weight-loss-camp comedy that’s heavy on fat jokes and “Seymour Butts” references.

“When Ben Stiller was referring to his previous self before he thinned out, he says, ‘I know you because I was you,’” Cousins said. “I say that to so many teammates so many times. When I see them doing something foolish, I'll say, ‘I know you because I was you.’”

You get the impression that if Cousins could tell all the Falcons’ youngsters to climb in the minivan and drive them right to the Super Bowl, why, he’d do it in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

As the “offseason” workouts conclude for the Falcons and Year 1 of the franchise’s reboot starts to take shape, several elements of this new era are becoming clear:

  • There’s a definite, carved-in-stone pecking order between Cousins, the nine-figure free agent signing, and Michael Penix Jr., the No. 8 overall pick, and everybody is adhering to it;

  • New head coach Raheem Morris is establishing a trust-but-verify vibe, letting individual units and players develop at their own pace, with course corrections as needed; and

  • Cousins is bringing his signature brand of intense-sports-dad energy to Atlanta, and the team is all-in.

This is the point in the offseason where everyone’s playing the same familiar notes. The coaches insist that every player is a future All-Pro on a team that’s a smoothly functioning engine of destruction. The media harps on the same key points — Atlanta drafted a franchise quarterback just after signing a franchise quarterback; the Falcons have the longest playoff drought outside the Broncos and Jets. The players are loving their teammates and hopeful for the season to come. The fans just want to see some football. And gosh-dang it, Kirk Cousins couldn’t be happier.

FLOWERY BRANCH, GEORGIA - MAY 14:  Quarterback Kirk Cousins #18 of the Atlanta Falcons looks to pass as quarterback Michael Penix Jr. #9 looks on during OTA offseason workouts at the Atlanta Falcons training facility on May 14, 2024 in Flowery Branch, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

“I've always tried to be a question asker,” Cousins said in response to a Yahoo Sports question about the generation gap. “So I think if I'm asking questions, I'm going to learn a lot about people, about my teammates. That's always kind of been my strategy. I don't feel too much of a gap because they are great guys and make it fun.”

Granted, there’s only so much that you can learn about a team — whether you’re a coach, a player, an analyst or a fan — in June. The players spend time in the classroom and run through drills. The quarterbacks zip passes that sometimes end up sailing deep, and sometimes end up fitting in tight, vanishing windows. (You know when a quarterback has found his mark; both sidelines will erupt in cheers.)

Cousins, clad in a red No. 18 jersey, is clearly enjoying himself, navigating the first-team offense, theatrically raising his elbows like a race-walker as that offense proceeds down the field, and — as Morris notes — keeping things light in the huddle, punctuating playcalls with dad-joke lines like “There’s a lot of football players out there, boys!”

“When I step in the huddle, I try to make sure it's not just blah, that you're communicating well, that there's some presence there, and you've got some charisma,” Cousins said. “My humor tends to be pretty dry, so if you're not focused, you might not catch it.”

“It’s kind of fun to watch,” Morris said. “It always makes you smile when you’re back there watching him. … He’s a lot of fun to be around.”

“He commands the room, gets everybody’s attention. That’s what you need,” tight end Kyle Pitts said. “He can joke when he wants to, but he’s serious when he needs to be.” Pitts termed Cousins “Superdad,” which might be the most perfect Kirk nickname yet.

Bijan Robinson, who has a locker next to Cousins, gets a reminder every so often of just how wide their age gap is. “I think Kirk is old enough to be my dad,” the 22-year-old Robinson joked. “But I love that dude, man. We always joke around with him. I always joke with him, and he takes it so good and so easy.”

“Honestly it's a blessing,” Cousins said. “I hope someday that gap is even bigger because it means I'm still playing and still connected.”

And then — because he is a dad and simply cannot help himself — Cousins found a way to turn the generation gap into a teachable moment for himself: “It probably makes me a better parent to my boys.”

OTAs wrap this week, and then the hitting begins. But before then, Cousins has some items to check off on the ol’ to-do list.

"We're going to Texas Roadhouse [Tuesday],” Cousins said. “That's our thing, checking out these chain restaurants. RIP Red Lobster."

Taking the crew to a chain restaurant. Could there be any more dad-like activity than that? The Falcons may or may not be a great football team, but they’re already feeling like a family.