Some details from another All-Pro caliber performance by Eric Kendricks had been discussed in the U.S. Bank Stadium locker room on Sunday when the mood of the moment suggested it was a good time to throw a little harder pitch at the Vikings inside linebacker.
Had the Lions not rediscovered their cursed roots and blown a 10-point lead in a 28-24 meltdown, the story for Monday's paper from these press box eyeballs would have focused on whether the Purple's plan for pressuring Jared Goff was a bit too polite.
Goff is one of the more stationary average quarterbacks still being asked to start games in today's NFL. He was in one of the NFL's loudest venues on Sunday. He was playing behind two backup guards, including Dan Skipper, a practice squad player elevated to the active roster for his second career start. And …
The Vikings mustered zero sacks, zero knockdowns and laid hands on Goff only once, in the closing minutes. Goff built double-digit leads twice while facing only seven blitzes, each of them five-man rushes that produced only two pressures. Only three of the blitzes came after the first quarter.
So, here comes the question, Mr. Kendricks: "Do you think you guys sit back a little too much sometimes in this new defense?"
"Yeah, sometimes," Kendricks said. "Sometimes, we got to be more aggressive. And sometimes we got to make plays on the ball, too."
A fair answer by a respected veteran leader who's earned the right to speak a little more freely.
As Kendricks went on to say, we're not exactly looking at a finished product three games into defensive coordinator Ed Donatell's stint in Minnesota.
"We're all still figuring out this defense and how the players work together," Kendricks said. "We're still figuring out how to play off each other. It's my first time playing with [nickel back Chandon Sullivan], first time playing with [inside linebacker Jordan Hicks], a lot of these boys. We had a new safety [Josh Metellus] in for Harrison [Smith on Sunday]."
The win covered up a ton of tension surrounding this defense and what transpired from the 24-7 Monday night beatdown in Philadelphia to the key fourth-down stop and game-clinching interception against the Lions six days later.
"It was really good for us to get this win to stay positive while still fixing things that need fixing," Kendricks said. "We have a lot to clean up. A lot."
Should part of the corrections include more exotic pressure packages? This thought came to mind watching Goff in the pocket on third-and-8 from the Vikings 48-yard line with 5:04 left in the game and the Lions leading 24-21.
U.S. Bank Stadium was as loud as it was all game. It felt like the perfect time to really crank up some extra heat on Goff.
Nope. Donatell called a four-man rush. He did have three edge rushers on the field, inserting D.J. Wonnum inside to go with Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith. But it wasn't enough.
Goff still looked at ease in the pocket. He stood there. He looked left. He patted the ball. He looked back to his right. He found Amon-Ra St. Brown for a 9-yard gain as 66,638 valuable noisemakers were temporarily hushed.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings generated one QB hit and 17 hurries for a total of 18 pressures. Watching the game back Monday, these eyes counted one QB hit and 13 hurries for a total of 14 pressures. These eyes saw the one hit and one hurry come from the seven five-man rushes, while the other 12 hurries came from 29 four-man rushes.
PFF says Za'Darius Smith had five hurries and Hunter had three. These eyes saw Danielle with five and Za'Darius with three.
Either way, it's close enough. After all, neither one of us is claiming to have seen Goff climb to his feet after Donatell called something to increase the chances of putting him on his back.