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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Can quick passes help Vikings O-line carry over improved performance?

By Matthew Coller

In losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears, it appeared the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line would be the downfall of the season. In those two games, quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked 11 times and pressured on nearly every other drop back. A change at offensive coordinator from Norv Turner to Pat Shurmur – and thus the return of the West Coast offense – resulted in only two sacks of Bradford against the Lions are far less pressure. The key: Getting the ball out quickly and dropping less deep in the pocket.

“When the ball gets out quicker, it definitely helps us,” said tackle Jake Long, who had his best game since joining the team against the Lions. “We can get on our guys a little bit quicker and be a little bit more aggressive. But that’s a testament to Sam [Bradford] and our receivers being able to get open.”

Bradford’s release in the Eagles and Bears losses was an average of 2.57 seconds compared to 2.10 against the Lions. He took fewer hits from edge rushers, in part because they didn’t have time to get to him, but also because his drops in the pocket were not as deep.

“On the shorter throws, you can give a little more edge because you know he’s going to be up in the pocket more,” Long said.

There’s an opportunity against Washington for the Vikings to use their mobile interior linemen Joe Berger, Alex Boone and Brandon Fusco as an advantage. An increase in screen passes means they are required to get in space and make second-level blocks.

“It’s something we can do, we have athletic linemen,” Fusco said. “We have to get the ball to the playmakers, that’s the way we do it, I guess. We like doing that stuff. We’ve had success doing it…that’s fun for us to get out there and hit those little guys.”

Bradford has thrown 179 passes 10 yards or less through the air, making up 74% of his total passes.

“It takes a little bit of a burden off the O-line,” Boone said. “If you start throwing screens in, guys start thinking it’s a pass rush. Even if they do beat you, it’s just a screen. Sometimes you see on film guys will stop and turn around and start running when it’s really just a pass but they think it’s a screen because when you start throwing things like that in there they never know what’s going on…it kind of messes with the defense a little bit.”

Washington’s pass rush has been solid this year, ranking seventh in the NFL with 22 sacks .

The post Can quick passes help Vikings O-line carry over improved performance? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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