E Point Perfect

Familiar Section of Vikings Roster Sinks Enthusiasm for Some


2021 Vikings Evidently Plagued by a Tight Rectum
Vikings Offensive and Defensive Lines

In a tale as old as 2014, enthusiasm for the 2022 Minnesota Vikings is dampened for some by the offensive line.

For nearly a decade, the Vikings offensive trenches have paved lanes for running backs with ease but struggled to keep various quarterbacks upright. This is the tale of the tape via pass protection:

Vikings OL Pass Protection,
NFL Ranking from Pro Football Focus,
Since 2014:

2014 = 23rd
2015 = 28th
2016 = 30th
2017 = 17th
2018 = 27th
2019 = 27th
2020 = 29th
2021 = 27th

Minnesota has taken increased corrective measures this offseason, courtesy of a new front office led by Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Still, some Vikings fans and national media entities aren’t convinced anything will be different.

ESPN ranked all 32 rosters in the NFL on Wednesday, and the Vikings ranked surprisingly low at #19. While Vegas isn’t necessarily high on the Vikings — they’re slated to win 8.5 games by oddsmakers — Minnesota’s roster doesn’t feel like a culprit. Ben Linsey from ESPN tabbed the Vikings offensive line as the team’s weakness, hence the group that sinks the roster to a subpar talent level.

Lindsey wrote about the Vikings offensive line, “It finished last season ranked 27th as a unit in PFF pass-blocking grade, and it is expected to return the majority of that group. Maybe Christian Darrisaw takes a step forward in his second season out of Virginia Tech, and perhaps players such as Ezra Cleveland and Garrett Bradbury do too. That’s a lot of ‘ifs’ though.”

Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Indeed, Linsey could end up correct once the regular season plays out, but Vikings enthusiasts take a little bit of solace knowing Adofo-Mensah has done more in this offseason than Rick Spielman in years past to fix the offensive line. For example, incumbent right guard Oli Udoh was unraveled by penalties in 2021 but is now slated for a return to his organic role — a backup offensive tackle. In free agency, Minnesota signed Jesse Davis and Chris Reed to compete for the RG spot, two moves that were applauded by Vikings fans.

Oct 31, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Miami Dolphins guard Jesse Davis. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

After that, Adofo-Mensah drafted Ed Ingram with a 2nd-Round pick, indicating the young executive possessed a “no more mister nice guy” attitude in fixing the longstanding RG problem. Overall, that’s three men to fix one spot, whereas, not long ago, men like Dakota Dozier or Dru Samia would be labeled as a potential solution.

For now, the Vikings OL moves over the last few months are best-laid plans. And they generate more excitement than the Spielman-Zimmer era efforts to remedy the trenches.

Yet, Linsey is correct. The offensive line cannot be trusted until it proves otherwise. That’s the price to pay for a unit that has struggled with pass protection for 8+ years.

The Vikings have also been linked to free-agent center JC Tretter since March, mainly because the current center, Garrett Bradbury, is problematic with pass protection. Tretter’s pass-blocking resume would help Minnesota fix the trenches with the snap of two fingers.

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 Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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