Minnesota Vikings Share Issues with Top Teams

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Vikings are not alone as a top team with a glaring hole.

Last week’s loss could have been much more concerning for the Minnesota Vikings if they were the only top-tier team with an offensive line issue. As it turns out, four of the top five teams in this week’s power rankings have featured poor offensive line play.

Yes, the Patriots, Vikings, Seahawks and Broncos have all proven to have below-average offensive lines. The Dallas Cowboys are the only team in the top five with an excellent offensive line.

According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots, Vikings and Seahawks are all bottom-10 in run blocking. New England and Seattle are bottom-half in pass protection while the Broncos are bottom-five. Surprisingly, the Vikings are rated above Dallas in pass protection which shows that an inferior line can still succeed with the right game plan.

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While this fact may seem worthless, it may actually turn out to be important come crunch time. If these five teams are all expected to make deep playoff runs, the Minnesota Vikings offensive line won’t be the only exposed unit.

This matters. Offensive line play is directly correlated with time–time of possession and time in the pocket. Teams that can sit on the ball for eight-minute chunks, like the Cowboys, are dangerous even when they don’t boast elite defenses or quarterbacks. If the playoffs started today, the Vikings wouldn’t have to deal with the time disparity.

While Minnesota Vikings fans should be confident that the team will get back on the proverbial horse, they should also be weary of how far south a game can go if the offensive line cannot perform the game plan.

The season isn’t over. Despite the alarming facts and the disappointing game last Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings are still in the top four for possession time in the NFL. When looking back to Houston, Green Bay and Carolina, this resilient offense simply understands how to stay on the field. In fact, the Vikings had 65 percent of possession in their loss to the Eagles. Situational football in key moments, especially in the red zone, killed the Vikings last week.

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So, the offensive line is bad. Yet, the Minnesota Vikings and other top teams have proven the ability to overcome that fact. Buying an offensive line of mercenaries clearly hasn’t been the solution. The solution is in the first five weeks–game plan.