The NFL's midseason mark is a bit wonky now that the schedule lasts 17 games.
In previous years, the Vikings would have hit the mark after completing their eighth game this weekend in Baltimore. Perhaps halftime of Week 10's game in Los Angeles is the true halfway point.
But no matter what timeline we're talking about, it's clear that Eric Kendricks has been his usual steady self in 2021.
Analytics website Pro Football Focus recently unveiled its Midseason All-Pro Team, with the Vikings linebacker nabbing one of two spots at that position.
Sam Monson of PFF wrote:
Kendricks is arguably the game's best coverage linebacker and has been able to show that across multiple seasons at a position and in an area where extreme fluctuations are common.
Kendricks boasts a 90.6 PFF coverage grade thus far, which would mark his second consecutive year above 90.0. He has two pass breakups and an interception from just 27 targets into his coverage, and he's already made 28 defensive stops in seven games, just 10 shy of his 2020 total.
As Monson pointed out, Kendricks' 90.6 grade in coverage is impressive, especially when you consider the fact he has been in coverage for 268 snaps (the ninth-most among all linebackers).
Kendricks has an overall grade of 78.6, which ranks 10th among all linebackers. But that grade is actually second among players at that position with 450 snaps. Kendricks has played all 476 of Minnesota's defensive snaps this season.
According to league stats, Kendricks leads the Vikings with 66 total tackles. He's also recorded four tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, three passes defensed, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Kendricks was a 2019 First-Team All-Pro selection by TheAssociated Press, and was likely headed for another honor before an injury ended his 2020 season after 11 games.
Kendricks was the only Vikings player selected, but Minnesota will see two other players on PFF's list — Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews and kicker Justin Tucker — in Week 9.
Cronin analyzes Vikings in-game decisions
One of the biggest issues that popped up for the Vikings Sunday night was clock management.
The Vikings took a timeout into the locker room at halftime, ending the second quarter by taking a knee after the offense couldn't get lined up quickly.
ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin recapped the sequence in which neither Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer nor quarterback Kirk Cousins called a timeout.
At the end of the first half, the Vikings got the ball back with 37 seconds and a chance for one last drive, starting from their own 15-yard line. They had one timeout left. Cousins scrambled 13 yards on second down but couldn't get the offense lined up quickly enough. Instead of calling a timeout, the quarterback deferred to his coach.
"I just let Zim' handle the timeouts, because I never know quite what the coaches want to do with what they're thinking, a play ahead or what that may be," Cousins said. "So I was just gonna let them handle that and call the next play if one came in."
Cousins, a 10-year veteran quarterback, is paid $33 million a year. That's a hefty price to pay a player who doesn't feel he can make a call in a critical situation, and it appears the head coach and his quarterback weren't on the same page – a glaring issue that compounds others.
"That's my fault," Zimmer said. "That was a miscommunication. He has the ability, but that was a miscommunication. I won't get into it, but that was a miscommunication. We were trying to get on the ball, and the receiver lined up wrong and took too much time."
More miscues arose in the final few minutes of the game, too, when the Vikings called back-to-back timeouts — which isn't allowed.
Minnesota's clock management issues were on display against Dallas.
Sidelines are emotional and chaotic, which often lead to heat-of-the moment decisions that don't work out. The Vikings, leading 16-13, had three timeouts at their disposal with Dallas driving with 1:49 left. Once the Cowboys reached Minnesota's 22-yard line, Zimmer called back-to-back timeouts, which resulted in a delay of game penalty. Two plays later, Dallas backup quarterback Cooper Rush hit Amari Cooper for the go-ahead touchdown.
Zimmer took responsibility for the timeout blunder, and mistakes happen. But perhaps a change in how these situations are being managed could yield better results.
Cronin's full piece can be found here.