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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings offensive line falls apart vs. Eagles

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line has been a problem all year, but quarterback Sam Bradford and offensive coordinator Norv Turner had found a way to work around it up until Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. In the 21-10 loss to Philly, the Vikings gave up six sacks and 19 hits on Bradford. If any hole in the boat can sink a team with the league’s best defense, it’s their O-line.

Against the Houston Texans, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney crushed the Vikings’ offensive line, hitting Bradford and stuffing runs. But Bradford got the ball out quickly over and over, especially on run-pass option plays and hit several deep balls to give the Vikings an easy win. The Vikings seemed to go away from the quick pass offense against the Eagles, which allowed beastly pass rushers like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin to eat up Bradford.

It’s certainly worth wondering why Turner would look back to the old days of seven-step drops, but the bigger concern is that there is no solution to the offensive line struggles. The Vikings signed former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long to a contract after TJ Clemmings was destroyed by the Texans. If they thought a guy without a job through Week 5 was going to have the Midus Touch on the O-line, they were severely mistaken. Long has been through a number of major injuries and can hardly move anymore. The Eagles whipped by him at warp speed and sacked Bradford, once for a costly fumble on a blitz from a defensive back.

Mike Zimmer wa asked if Long was rusty and he would only say, “Yes.”

At that point in the game, the Vikings had to try Long because Clemmings was putting on a repeat performance from Houston week. Bradford’s first interception of the year came when pass rusher Brandon Graham left Clemmings in the dust and hit Bradford’s arm on a pass in the red zone. If the Vikings had been able to score at that point, maybe the game is quite different.

Jeremiah Sirles had been OK filling in for Andre Smith at right tackle, but that levee broke on Sunday, too.

One of the hopes for the Vikings offense when Adrian Peterson went down with an injury was that their pass protection from running backs would actually improve. That has not been the case as Matt Asiata was either not on the same page as the offensive linemen several times or got worked by a linebacker.

We haven’t spent much time focusing on Minnesota’s abysmal running game, which ranked dead last in the NFL in Yards Per Carry heading into Sunday’s game, but they had a clear advantage over the Eagles in that area and were not able to take advantage. The Vikings finished with 27 carries for 93 yards (3.4 YPC) and one of those runs went for 29 on a third down draw play.

After all that went wrong, the Vikings still had a chance to come back against the Eagles. Their chances were still hanging on by a thread early in the fourth quarter with the ball inside the 10 yards line of Philadelphia down by 15 points. On 3rd-and-1, the offensive line gained zero leverage and Zach Line was stopped for a no gain. On 4th-and-1, same story for Asiata, who came inches short of a first down and more or less brought the game to an end.

The Vikings won’t be facing a defensive line of the Eagles’ prowess each week, but they cannot be a Super Bowl-caliber team when edge rushers are consistently pounding Bradford into the ground.

What is the fix?

“We need to do a better job, we’re not going to go out on the street and pick up a bunch of guys,” Zimmer said during his post-game comments.

The only way the Vikings can win with the line playing so poorly is to mitigate the effects of a pass rush with quick passes and hope that Bradford survives the hits he takes.

That solution doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence going forward.

The post Vikings offensive line falls apart vs. Eagles appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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