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

Credit where it’s due: Vikings offensive line protected Bradford vs. Jags

By Matthew Coller

Between a hoard of injuries and a number of sub-par performances, the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line as had a rough go in 2016. But with the season on the line in Jacksonville, the assorted group of linemen not only kept quarterback Sam Bradford upright, they gave him ample opportunity to throw the ball down field.

Bradford was not sacked and was only hurried nine times in the 25-16 win that improved the Vikings’ record to 7-6. He also averaged the most yards per attempt (8.6) since Week 5 against the Houston Texans when he picked up 9.0 yards per pass.

The Vikings have turned toward a quick-throw offense since offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur took over, but it has often resulted in the team’s troubles creating a deep threat. According to Pro Football Focus, Bradford took 2.97 seconds to release the ball – which is around 0.5 seconds slower than his average under Shurmur. The extra time allowed the Vikings’ receivers to get open down field.

Bradford opened the game with a 45-yard pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph. While it wasn’t a traditional bomb, it required the quarterback to be protected well. Often times this season, opponents have only needed to rush four defensive linemen to get in the face of the quarterback. That was not the case in Jacksonville.

Picking up the blitz has been just as much of an issue for the O-line this year as stopping four-man rushes. Between communication issues with linemen going in and out of the lineup and players struggling with the 1-on-1 matchups that blitzes create, opponents have often gotten in Bradford’s face when they send an extra rusher. On this deep ball from Bradford to Adam Thielen, Matt Asiata picked up the rushing linebacker, guard Alex Boone and Nick Easton double teamed star defensive tackle Malik Jackson and TJ Clemmings did his job against Dante Fowler.

Keeping Bradford safe on third downs has been an issue throughout the year, often causing the Vikings quarterback to check down to running backs or his tight end. Some of those failures have been on Bradford for jumping the gun where there wasn’t pressure, but many checkdowns were justified. The Vikings didn’t solve all of their third down problems against Jacksonville, but they did convert two 3rd-and-10s, including this one in which Asiata does a good job stopping the rushing linebacker and again both tackles slowed down the edge rushers.

The offensive line deserves praise for it’s solid protection of Bradford. It was far from a perfect performance though. Some good luck bailed out Clemmings for this swing and miss. If you remember, against the Eagles, Bradford was strip-sacked and the ball bounced to the opponent instead of right back to him.

The Vikings offensive line also failed failed at the goal line twice, once ending on a turnover on downs and another with Asiata fumbling into the end zone.

Even if the game still had its issues up front, this was by far the best performance by the men up front since the beginning of the season. Looking forward, the Colts, Packers and Bears (though Chicago dominated the Vikings up front earlier this year) do not have dominant pass rushes, so there is a case to be made that the O-line could reproduce this performance. The problems are solved, but maybe they could be just good enough. Maybe.

The post Credit where it’s due: Vikings offensive line protected Bradford vs. Jags 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>