Lassoed in a batch of contending teams down the stretch, ESPN has identified what it believes is the Minnesota Vikings biggest weakness.
Unsurprisingly, because the Vikings recent lore with the offensive trenches is so downtrodden, the target is an offensive lineman. And his name is Ed Ingram.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell outlined 10 Super Bowl contenders — yes, the Vikings were one of those — and corresponding weaknesses for each club. Ingram was “that guy,” and Barnwell broke it down, “I have to point toward the rookie right guard on Minnesota’s line. Ingram is this season’s Hakeem Adeniji as the overmatched young lineman every defensive coordinator wants to try to exploit heading into game day. The struggles of Adeniji and the rest of the Cincinnati offensive line finally sunk the Bengals in the second half of Super Bowl LVI.”
The Vikings selected Ingram in the 2nd Round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and the LSU alumnus earned the starting right guard job this summer. He impressed in preseason and the first couple of regular season games but regressed thereafter — so much so that he wound up on Barnwell’s naughty list.
“Ingram has allowed seven sacks in 11 games, a remarkable number for an interior lineman. His 85.5% pass block win rate ranks 61st out of 63 qualifying guards. He is better as a run-blocker, but he is a glaring weakness for the Vikings as they close out a noncompetitive race in the NFC North,” Barnwell added.
Minnesota remains dedicated to Ingram’s rookie maturation, as benching the man may damage his long-term development. That’s the working theory, anyway. Ironically, the Vikings have a terrific reservist RG option who hasn’t played in 2022 — Chris Reed.
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed Reed in free agency before drafting Ingram, and some he even believed Reed was the long sought-after solution at right guard. However, that title later went to Ingram, the rookie.
Ingram’s 54.7 grade from Pro Football Focus is the second-worst on the Vikings roster (among qualifying players) through 12 weeks. TE Johnny Mundty’s 48.7 is worse, but that is it after Ingram.
Ergo, with Barnwell’s observation, the Vikings can either “ride it out” and hope Ingram acclimates to the NFL down the stretch of the regular season into the postseason — or risk harming his long-term trajectory via sticking the aforementioned Reed in the lineup.
Thankfully for Ingram and the Vikings sake, he’s caught on to the run-blocking ways of the big leagues, so perhaps the rest of the toolkit will follow.
The Vikings offensive line ranks 11th in the NFL heading into Week 13, per PFF — even with Ingram’s rookie sins.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).