The Minnesota Vikings came away from US Bank Stadium with their biggest win of the season on Sunday, a 38-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Not only did they light up a dinged-up defense but also slowed a very talented Eagles offense. Let’s have a look at what the numbers tell us about the win and the Vikings going forward…
Kirk Cousins had the second highest PFF grade of his career
There are times in the NFL in which an impressive box score doesn’t always tell the entire story. In the Vikings’ win over the Eagles, it was indicative of a terrific performance by quarterback Kirk Cousins. He threw for 333 yards and registered a 138.4 rating (which would have been even higher if not for a fluke interception). Pro Football Focus graded Cousins’ performance an outstanding 93.0 out of 100.
His only higher graded game since entering the NFL in 2012 was last year’s 29-29 tie against the Green Bay Packers in which he scored a 93.6 and threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns and came back from down 22-7 to put his team in position to beat Green Bay.
Overall Cousins now ranks as the 13th best QB in the NFL by PFF grades.
Another key note about Sunday’s performance: Cousins had a clean pocket on 20 of 31 drop backs and went 16-for-20 with 257 yards on clean-pocket throws. Cousins currently has the fourth best clean pocket QB rating in the NFL behind Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott and Pat Mahomes.
Rashod Hill registers top pass blocking grade
Against a talented Eagles defensive line, you would expect it to be problematic when left tackle Riley Reiff left with an ankle injury but swing tackle Rashod Hill filled in outstandingly in relief, allowing zero QB pressures and scoring an 86.5 grade from PFF, the second highest passing grade of any Vikings lineman this year.
The Vikings have always liked Hill’s pass blocking ability, hence why they brought him back this year rather than replacing him with someone cheaper. Overall Reiff has been a decent pass blocker, ranking 23rd of 59 tackles by PFF’s metrics. But it might be better to have Hill take his place until he’s 100% healthy rather than trying to fight through issues like he did last year.
Bradbury shows major pass blocking improvement
The Vikings rookie had some “welcome to the NFL” moments early in the season according to Mike Zimmer. By PFF grades that might be generous. He still ranks last in the NFL in overall grade and pass blocking among centers. However the NC State standout has upped his game over the last two weeks, scoring a 71.4 pass blocking grade against the Giants and 85.2 pass blocking against the Eagles. He did not allow a QB pressure in either game after allowing 13 in his first four contests.
Either he’s getting up to NFL speed or the Vikings’ offensive minds are finding ways to help him out or some combination of both.
9 hurries for Everson Griffen
The Vikings’ defensive ends have been as good as ever in the first six weeks. Danielle Hunter leads the NFL in QB pressures with 39 and Everson Griffen is just three behind with 36, ranking him third.
Last offseason Griffen elected to take a restructured contract to return after a down season by his standards. He is not only right back up to his usual level of excellence but might even be en route to a career year. And Hunter has the most sacks for any player by the age 25.
Mackensie Alexander best graded defensive player in return
It wasn’t that long ago that it was questionable whether the Vikings could turn their second-round pick in 2016 into a starting nickel corner. Now Alexander has become another Mike Zimmer success story in the secondary. Alexander scored a 91.9 grade on Sunday, allowing just two catches for six yards and picking off a Carson Wentz pass.
With four starting-caliber corners and only three spots, it will be interesting to see how Zimmer mixes in Mike Hughes, who has played extremely well since returning from an ACL injury. On Sunday Xavier Rhodes gave up six passes into his coverage but just 30 yards.
Vikings slow down Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert
Another week, another successful game against an opponent’s tight end(s). Against Trae Waynes, Zach Ertz caught one pass in three attempts. He caught one for 20 yards against the Vikings’ two linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Overall Goedert caught five passes for just 48 yards and both of Wentz’s interceptions came when targeting him.
Eric Kendricks’ hot start
The Vikings have always been high Kendricks but this year his game has seemingly reached a new level. He produced a 91.5 PFF grade on Sunday and ranks as the second best linebacker in the NFL by PFF only behind New England’s Jamie Collins. He’s also surprisingly ranked fifth in QB pressures. In the past Anthony Barr (who is tied with Kendricks) has been more known for getting after the quarterback but Kendricks is having great success in his rushes along with coverage, where he leads the NFL in pass breakups.