Vikings Success Completely Dependent on Inconsistent Offensive Line

PHOTO: Bill Wippert, Buffalo Bills

PHOTO: Bill Wippert, Buffalo Bills



I struggled with whether or not to write this since I feel like I am smashing my forehead into a brick wall that’s already full of dried blood and sticky hair from previous moments of weakness. Some would argue that pieces of my frontal lobe may have fallen casualty at some point too.

Warning signs were everywhere entering the 2015 season. Matt Kalil was coming off of his worst season BY FAR in 2014, after being taken 4th overall by the Vikings in the 2012 draft. In that disastrous 2014 season, Kalil was a swinging gate at Left Tackle while also committing a career-high in penalties.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

To add to the Matt Kalil problems, Phil Loadholt retired after 2014 and the team decided they didn’t need John Sullivan, coming off of a career-threatening back injury.

The 2015 Offensive Line was a fucking disaster.

But, Teddy Bridgewater showed us that some of his best attributes were awareness in the pocket and the ability to challenge defenses with his legs, while still keeping them honest with his arm. He led us to a first round playoff bye and a frozen home playoff game against Seattle before Blair Walsh fucked everything up. (I thought about embedding a video here but I want you to stick around…)

Then, Teddy almost lost his leg and was replaced by Sam Bradford, who set the NFL record for highest season completion percentage, while playing behind another TERRIBLE offensive line in 2016.

Spielman grabbed two legitimate starters for a revamped 2017 line, in Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers. Rookie Pat Elflein stepped in right away at starting center and was ready to fuck shit up. Bradford went down after game 1 and Case Keenum took over. The offense didn’t skip a beat for the most part, rallying all the way to the NFC Championship before the Eagles destroyed us, won the Super Bowl, ate horse shit off of the ground, and destroyed their city.

The Vikings 2017 offensive line might not have been known as top-tier around the NFL but it was serviceable throughout the season, at least.

Enter 2018, Case Keenum was upgraded to Kirk Cousins. Cousins is the real fucking deal and has been dropping dimes to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs since game 1. However, he doesn’t seem to feel and avoid pressure as well as Keenum and Teddy did. Add in a VERY inconsistent run game and a multitude of injuries along the offensive line, and here we are again…. talking weekly about a shitty to below average-at-best, offensive line.

The Vikings have been one of the worst teams in the league this season running the football. Entering last Sunday, with Dalvin Cook injured and starter Mike Remmers out, the team ranked worse than the 28th they currently sit at. So of course, Latavius Murray blew up for 155 and a Tuddy. Minnesota stuff.

But even possession to possession, you don’t know what to expect.

The Vikings had a couple of 3rd/4th downs with short to go, and you knew what was happening each time. There was a 0% chance of a run being called. The Vikings are going to throw the ball every time in that situation. Why? Because you can’t trust the running game… You have NO idea what you’re getting when you hand that ball off.

Not only that, after Arizona scored on a David Johnson 1-yard run to make it a 27-17 with 7 minutes left, the Vikings offense needed a couple first downs through the run game to keep the clock moving and ice the game.

The Vikings went 3-and-out and only ran the ball once. Again, lack of confidence.

Luckily, the defense forced their own turnover on downs right after that, and the game was over. But, that hasn’t always been the ending to this story.

With Kirk Cousins at QB, the Vikings have the most talented team I’ve ever seen them grace the field with. There is elite talent EVERYWHERE. But all of that will go to shit if this offensive line can’t create some consistency in the running game. All of these backs can ball and Cousins is going to have them in the right plays vs the right defenses.

There’s nowhere else to point the finger. If the Vikings are going to make a Super Bowl run the offensive line needs to find some fucking consistency. If not, this will just be another season with high hopes that turned to the same depressing nightmares.

But, with a more balanced attack offensively, the Vikings are the best team in the NFL. Elite defense, Elite WRs, Elite RB, Elite QB…. There aren’t other teams around the league that are stacked all over like we are. Can we have a Vikings chapter that, for once… just one fucking time, leads to a Super Bowl parade?

Please. Just one…

STOP…

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Eric Strack
Minnesota Sports Fan @RealMNSportsFan