The Minnesota Vikings will travel to Philadelphia and face the Eagles on Monday. Both teams started with a victory in their season on Sunday, and both teams beat an NFC North team. However, only one of them pulled off an easy win. The Detroit Lions were close to making a comeback against the Eagles from a 17-point deficit. In the end, they fell just short and lost by three points, 35-38.
Minnesota, meanwhile, cruised to an easy win against the favorite to win the division, the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers and his crew scored just seven points.
The record is a similarity, but the two teams facing off on Monday have a big difference.
The Offensive Line
In the last decade, the Vikings always had suspect offensive lines. The likes of T.J. Clemmings, Dakota Dozier, and Dru Samia were more a liability than a solution. The importance of the line got enhanced because the Vikings heavily relied on their rushing offense and mostly had pocket passers under center.
The current offensive line features five former draft picks of the Vikings. All of them were high draft selections, as left tackle Christian Darrisaw and center Garrett Bradbury were first-rounders, while Ezra Cleveland, Brian O’Neill, and Ed Ingram were selected in the second round. All of them, outside of O’Neill, are still playing on their rookie contracts. O’Neill signed a huge 5-year $92.5 million extension in 2021.
Despite the gigantic investments, the offensive line is still a question mark. In the opening game of the 2022 season, Kirk Cousins was under a lot of pressure. The Packers found a way to pressure him on over 42.4% of his dropbacks. Good for the Vikings that he played outstanding on those plays. But he may not keep that level of play.
The Vikings have to find a way to keep the pocket clean. Ed Ingram played his first NFL game and did alright most of the day but was too inconsistent. He’ll face Fletcher Cox, an annual Pro Bowler. Center Garrett Bradbury is the same player as he has always been. His movement skills and athleticism is impressive, but he lacks strength. Jordan Davis, one of the biggest NFL players ever, will be a tough challenge.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has one of the best offensive line units in the league. It has been that way for years. Jason Kelce at center and Lane Johnson at right guard are elite players at their positions. Both are well past 30 years of age but are still phenomenal players.
Left tackle Jordan Mailata has one of the most interesting backgrounds in the league. He was a 2018 7th-round pick. Usually, picks that late are just fliers, and most of them struggle to ever get onto the field. Mailata had never played football before. He was an Australian rugby player. In 2021, he developed into one of the best left tackles in the game.
That makes three stars on the offensive line. In addition to those three anchors of the line, the Eagles’ two starting guards are Landon Dickerson and Isaac Seumalo. Seumalo is a consistently solid guard. Dickerson was a 2021 second-round pick. He played center for Alabama in college but moved to guard in the NFL. Just like Seumalo, Dickerson is a solid player.
The Eagles have an outstanding offensive line with little in the way of weakness across the board,” PFF’s Sam Monson wrote in an article. “That includes a pair of excellent tackles who combined for two pressures surrendered against the Lions, and the interior trio is strong. Their line really doesn’t have any weak links.
The Vikings will face a significant challenge in Week 2. Both the running and the passing defense have to be ready. It won’t be easy to put pressure on quarterback Jalen Hurts and stop the run because of the strong offensive line.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt