Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4 other subscribers

MN Vikings Tweets

Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Vikings must find a way for offensive line to keep Sam Bradford healthy

By Judd Zulgad

The Vikings’ 21-10 loss at Philadelphia last Sunday caused plenty of previously confident fans to get nervous. The loss was only Minnesota’s first after opening the season with five wins, but in these parts it doesn’t take much for panic to set in.

Much of the uneasiness likely wasn’t warranted. The special teams had a poor game – giving up a kickoff return for a touchdown and losing a fumble on a punt return because of a miscue by the normally sure-handed Marcus Sherels – but, as Christian Ponder used to say, “Those things are easily correctable.”

There somehow also seemed to be a feeling that the entire team did not play well, but that simply wasn’t the case. The Vikings’ defense, one of the best in the NFL, gave up only 13 points and six of those came after Minnesota turned over the ball and the Eagles took possession near midfield and ended up with two field goals as a result.

This gets us to the one area that remains a major concern for the Vikings entering Monday night’s game in Chicago. The offensive line was awful at more than one spot in Philadelphia. Sam Bradford was hit 19 times and sacked six times by the Eagles.

Anyone who was surprised by this had not been paying attention. Bradford had one of his best games in the Vikings’ 31-13 victory over Houston on Oct. 9, but left tackle T.J. Clemmings’ struggles caused enough worry at Winter Park that veteran Jake Long was signed off his couch to provide help during the bye week.

The issue was that Long did no such thing. In an ill-conceived idea to use a rotation that put Long in the game at left tackle during certain series, the Vikings then moved Clemmings to right tackle and Jeremiah Sirles to the bench. Long played 13 snaps and gave up two sacks, both of which caused Bradford to be stripped of the ball.

The NFL trade deadline is at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The names of left tackles Joe Thomas and Joe Staley have been thrown around but the reality is the Vikings don’t have a ton of salary cap room with which to operate and they also made a significant trade before the season when Bradford was acquired for a first- and conditional fourth-round pick from Philadelphia after Teddy Bridgewater was injured. General manager Rick Spielman likely is only willing to mortgage the future up to a certain point.

That means the Vikings’ coaching staff, and the current members of this offensive line (Clemmings at left tackle; Alex Boone at left guard; Joe Berger at center; Brandon Fusco at right guard and Sirles at right tackle) are going to have to find a way to solve their problems internally.

The Vikings haven’t had a defense with the capability to be this dominant in many years, so it would be a shame if the offensive line proved to be the undoing of a team that should have a real shot at a Super Bowl berth in the wide open NFC.

There was a report from Pro Football Talk on Sunday night speculating about when running back Adrian Peterson might return from his knee injury. “The best guess from within the walls of the organization is that he’ll play again in December,” PFT reported.

This will be met with enthusiasm from some, but this doesn’t solve the real problem.

The Vikings are dead last in the NFL with a rushing offense that is averaging only 2.6 yards per carry. The 31-year-old Peterson was averaging 1.6 yards when he was injured in the Vikings’ second game. He was often hit by defenders as soon as he touched the ball and there’s no reason to believe that wouldn’t remain the case.

This wasn’t Peterson fault, it was the fault of those who are supposed to make sure the running back received sufficient room to find an opening. The worry now has to be whether this line can keep Bradford upright for 10 more games.

Aside from the Eagles game, Bradford has been better than anyone could have expected. If he’s healthy, the Vikings have a chance to make this a special season.

So how can the offensive coaches help?

For some reason, after the bye week, offensive coordinator Norv Turner decided Bradford should take more down-the-field shots and thus drop back a few more times. This made zero sense, especially after seeing how quick passes saved Bradford from frequent destruction against the Texans.

The Vikings might be stuck with this current line, but as long as that’s the case the coaching staff needs to put this group in a position to succeed and deciding to get creative isn’t the way to go.

Did Turner and company learn their lesson in Philadelphia? If the answer is no, then there’s a good chance Bradford’s season could end far earlier than expected.

The post Zulgad: Vikings must find a way for offensive line to keep Sam Bradford healthy appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>