The Vulnerability of the Vikings’ Offensive Line

The Minnesota Vikings have done it again. Gotten everyone’s hopes up with spectacular wins just to get blown out the next week. This one hurt especially because it was against the Green Bay Packers.

The Vikings looked lost on all aspects of the field. Whether it was offense or defense, they couldn’t get anything done.

One especially damning vulnerability that the Vikings faced this week and have been facing for the past few weeks is their offensive line.

The Vikings’ offensive line has seen injury after injury this year. It’s hard to find games where the original starting 5 last played together.

Center Garrett Bradbury has been out for the past 4 weeks with a back injury. He was slated to return against the Packers, but a car crash on his way home from the Vikings’ game against the Colts resurfaced the injury.

The Vikings turned to 2nd string center Austin Schlottmann. Schlottmann struggled, posting a 55 or below PFF grade in his starts against the Colts and Giants. During the Vikings’ second drive against the Packers, Schlottmann went down with an ankle injury.

The Vikings then had to turn to backup right guard Chris Reed. This is where the game got ugly on offense. Reed looked lost at center. He clearly didn’t know the signals well enough to play center, botched multiple snaps, and was constantly being beat.

Vikings pro bowl caliber right tackle Brian O’Neill sustained a calf injury in the first quarter as well. The Vikings then turned to 2nd string right tackle Oli Udoh. Udoh was the Vikings’ starting right guard last season. Udoh wasn’t as bad as Reed, but he couldn’t keep his balance, and was always too slow against Green Bay’s edge rushers.

Right guard Ed Ingram has struggled throughout his rookie year, allowing 11 sacks, the most by any offensive lineman in the NFL. As a rookie, he does need time to develop, however when your job it to protect the quarterback, you shouldn’t be struggling this much.

Left guard Ezra Cleveland probably had his worst game against the Packers, racking up multiple false start and holding penalties throughout the game. Going into the game, Cleveland only had one penalty against him; he now has five.

Left tackle Christian Darrisaw has been amazing for the Vikings all year. However against the Packers, Darrisaw allowed more pressure to Kirk Cousins than he had all year. Darrisaw has had multiple concussions this year, but this game seems to have been his first hiccup so far.

The Vikings offensive line started off as a solid upgrade from years past. Darrisaw has been an absolute stud, Brian O’Neill has been a super underrated player at his position, Ezra Cleveland and Garrett Bradbury playing the best football of their careers, and Ed Ingram trying to find his footing.

That start slowly diminished thanks to injuries and horrible performances over and over again.

The Vikings are hoping for all five of their offensive linemen to be healthy for the playoffs if they want to have some success. If a backup is in for a game, the Vikings might as well be a one and done team as far as the fans are concerned.
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