Ways to Make the Vikings Better: Upgrade the Offensive Line

Laying out the top ways for the Vikings to improve themselves this off-season, so maybe next year, instead of making it to the brink of the Super Bowl, they can actually, you know, make the Super Bowl…

So what exactly do I mean by “upgrade the offensive line?”  Getting rid of that giant nitwit Bryant McKinnie would be a start, but unfortunately, there are problems with that.  For one thing, there’s McKinnie’s contract, which would mean a large cap hit if we tried to dump him on someone.  And for another thing, if you do somehow manage to get rid of him, who do you replace him with?  Phil Loadholt would be the obvious guy, but you still don’t know if Loadholt is left tackle material, plus that leaves you with a big hole at right tackle again.  Much as I would love to see McKinnie gone, it’s really not practical.

In reality, center and right guard are the two places where you could get better.  John Sullivan did nothing this year to prove that he is the long-term answer at center, and Anthony Herrera is Anthony Herrera, in other words, serviceable.  The only unrestricted free agent who looks the least bit attractive at either position is Bobbie Williams of the Bengals, who is regarded as a top-notch run blocker…just what the Vikings need to help improve Adrian Peterson‘s stats.  The problems with Williams are that he’s a tad old at 33 and you would probably have to overpay to get him.  Logan Mankins is younger and may be just now rounding into top form, but he is a restricted free agent, and the Patriots will probably lock him up before he ever becomes available.  Kevin Mawae is the most attractive option at center but he is incredibly old, and if you weren’t willing to re-sign Matt Birk at his age, you certainly wouldn’t be willing to bring in Mawae even if it was only for one season.

Perhaps the best fix for the Vikings O-Line would just be a good healing off-season for Steve Hutchinson and another year of hard work and improvement by Loadholt.  And maybe there’s someone on the roster, like Jon Cooper, who could step up in training camp and take over one of those shaky positions.  And of course there’s the draft, which yielded Loadholt last year, and could offer up another option or two.  All I know for sure is, if Brett Favre does come back next year, he’ll need better protection than what he got against the Saints, or he will end up being scraped off the turf like a turd.

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Tags: Adrian Peterson Anthony Herrera Bobbie Williams Brett Favre Bryant Mckinnie Kevin Mawae Logan Mankins Matt Birk Minnesota Vikings New Orleans Saints Phil Loadholt Steve Hutchinson

  • Randall G

    Why not go back to Man Blocking rather than expect these mammoth lineman to have any semblance of leverage back there playing on their heels? Maybe Matt Birk had a point (the ALL PRO Center and Harvard graduate).. Or Jamie Dukes, the ALL PRO C in arguably the best Zone Blocking scheme in NFL history (now an NFL analyst on the NFL network had a point saying the exact same thing.. Maybe its time the Coaches play to their strength.. Steve Hutchinson is an ALL PRO guard in a Man Blocking scheme and is less than ideal in this Zone Blocking scheme.. Seems more logical to change the schem back to what was working than to replace all the lineman wouldn’t ya say?

  • http://none.com Steve

    I agree. Dump McKinnie. Watch the Favre completion to Greg Lewis in the 49ers game. When the game clock is at about 7 seconds…see who is standing still while near the top of the tv screen his man gears up to cream Favre.

  • Vikes204

    I think that John Sullivan Anthony Herrera and Phil all did what they could this year. Sullivan had a great game against the Saints as did Herrera. I think that next year Blocking will be better and there will not be a question about these positions.

  • Supa Fan

    Randall G is so right on the money. This offensive line is one of the largest in the NFL. It resembles the cowgirls O-line of the ’90′s which produced the all time leading rusher in NFL history. They were a man on man blocking scheme that resulted in 3 super bowl victories.
    In another stream of consciousness, Childress is over thinking this.

  • Mike

    Sure large blockers favor man versus zone blocking. But man blocking requires more intelligence against changes like blitzes. Man blocking may be the amswer for someone like Sullivan, but what about McKinnie? I can’t imagine that guy studying game tapes when he could be out partying and picking fights in bars with pro boxers. Like I have said Percy is great but the Vikings really had to draft Oher when he fell to them for left tackle and move McKinnie to right tackle and eventually out the door! Now they won’t be able to pick until the 30th spot and will need to get some cornerbacks, maybe a safety, even if Favre does return.

  • Mike

    Moreover, if Brett Favre comes back next year, he’ll need better protection from the NFL than what he got against the Saints. I don’t believe any improvements to the offensive line can protect a QB from the violence against the QB that they have taken to a new level: hit the QB as hard as they can, whenever they can, even if the QB has released the ball, even hit him illegally low, even pick him up and slam him to the turf, regardless of penalties or fines. The dirty Saints are now even promising to hit Peyton Manning if he drops to the ground!

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  • Mike

    The NY Times NFL Blog has an article today entitled “Do the Saints Play Dirty?” in which they ask what the league would be like if every team tried to kill the opposing QBs like the dirty Saints did against Warner and Favre and are threatening to do to Peyton Manning.

  • David

    There will be no cap hit if the Vikings cut McKinnie, because there will be no salary cap unless an agreement is reached within the next month.

  • The Coach

    Theres nothing wrong with the Offensive line, their just fine and dandy. During the Saints game they didn’t commit any penalties like holding etc. because they thought they could give Bret more than enough time to throw the ball because the Saints pass rush isn’t that good to begin with. The Saints figured it out, and played man to man and changed it up with cover two and cover three at times with blitzing by either the Linebackers or by Safeties and tried to stuff the Receivers and Tightend’s at the line, that’s all. The Saints did good out in the open, but clearly were holding and interfering with the Receivers, and obviously if you review the film, you’ll see it for yourself. The Refs were not throwing flags out against the Saints to the point when it was neccessary to do so and it was their ignorance in the long run that led to a loss, whereas the Vikings could have easily overcome the score to win the game. There was clear favoritism in the game and nobody can deny that.

    The NFL has now become questionable in their motives and undeniably it results back to Roger Goodell being a little bitch who was spanked by the Willaims, so this is the recourse we have to accept.
    Its called the revenge loss! Now will we ever be able to justify our means and look forward? I doubt it, time has never been on our side. Right now the team is aging and not in a good way either, we not only lost the game but we also lost a top notch Cornerback with an ACL in Griffen. Weve had some excellent draft picks here, and better than most teams overall, and no, it didnt come with the Dainty Culpepper trade nor did it come when we traded away Randy Moss, it came through the draft that started with Mike Tice getting remnants of Dennis Greens players. End results were brought in by Chilly and the final results are what we seen in the last couple seasons ( other than QB ). The problem is, their getting older now and their going into free agency soon and the question will come up is if we can resign them or not. Matt Birk played weak last year as well as Darren Sharper, you seen it, you remember the rush straight up the gut almost every games plays, where Birk let the players blitz. You also seen where Sharper let the pass go over his head and by playing weak, then against the Eagles he twists his ankle in crunch time???, obviously, its called laying down and not giving a damn and preserving themselves from injury to get signed by another team elsewhere after the season. It would have been nice to resign them, but the thing is; if their disgruntled and the team figures that if they are, then why keep them around when all they want to do is pout about it during the season and not play up to par. They could have negotiated after the season, but that was their choice to do. The Vikings didnt want to give into their demands to pay them more than their age is worth “long term” thats all. Why pay Matt Birk 8 Mill for a single season and then 6 Mill the year after that? And Sharper wanted what was it like 5 Mill? And for their efforts they showed on the field, I don’t think so.
    McKinnie is a solid player and one of the best in the entire league. to replace him will be almost impossible. Like it or lump it, but it takes a couple good and long seasons to make a Linesman in the NFL. And the fact that there’s two different type’s of Linesmen out there like Pass blockers and run blockers, its almost impossible to get both in one guy. So if you take out that equation and also take away a guy like Tony Richards who’s an excellent run blocker himself creates a void that left Jimmy K trying to fill. You have to give this Line the time to gel and get better, that’s all. The pieces are there and they need to mature together to get better.

  • Mike

    This is one of the few times I have agreed with Joe.

    Moreover, I got the feeling some was sarcastic, which made it even harder to read.

  • Mike

    AHN Sports Correspondent Shawn Krest writes yesterday in “Saints Coordinator Williams Makes No Apology For Defenders’ Rough Play” about “how much easier the game plan would be if his defenders could knock Colts quarterback Peyton Manning out of the game.” Williams told a radio audience last week that he’d be willing to see his Saints defense take a few penalties “if it meant seeing (Colts backup quarterback) Curtis Painter instead of Peyton Manning.” He said, “when you hit the quarterback, the whole team feels it.”

    He has also made several comments glorifying the violence his players have inflicted in recent weeks. The comments came on the heels of two brutally effective performances by the Saints defense in recent weeks.

    Williams poo-pooed the uproar caused by his comments and the borderline dirty play of his defense. When a member of the media mentioned that this might be the worst apology ever, Williams said, “I tell my players and my kids the same thing. Play hard. Make no apologies. I don’t ever want you to apologize to anyone at any time about being competitive.” Williams tells his son to “knock the memory out of them.”

    This man is as sick as his team and their fans.

  • Mike

    More proof New Orleans is the Sodom of the South and the Saints are dirty. To mark the Super Bowl, hundreds of men dressed in drag and marched in New Orleans on Sunday. The parade from the Louisiana Superdome to the French quarter was led by former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert, who topped off his outfit with a blond wig and tiara.

  • Mike

    WOW, the Star Tribune is citing the Clarion Ledger for pictures of how bad Brett Favre was beat up by the dirty Saints. Gruesome! Amazing he could play like that! The Saints are animals!

  • Randall G

    1st Sharper was let go because he couln’t tackle worth a darn, it has very little to do with his monetary demands, as a matter of fact he’s not getting paid a whole lot in NO. But he’s in a system that plays to his strengths now.

    Birk left not because we let him go due to his performance, he opted out to get away from a scheme that wasn’t working and a stubborne coach that wouldn’t liesten to his opinion(s) on the scheme he and a few others that know a thing or two about effective blocking schemes.

    You are dellusional to think our line is fine and dandy. I think its the worst 0-line performance by the Vikings in the last 15yrs and it gets worse every year.Damn good thing we have such a good line huh, it really shows in AP’s production and QB protection.. (end sarcasm)

    I will gladly trade a few false starts for a consistant run game and better pass protection if thats how you measure their effectiveness.