Offensive Line Improvements
The small sample size we saw of the Vikings’ revamped offensive line against Buffalo gave cause for concern to say the least after they gave up 2 sacks. It was clear that the line play was still a work in progress and I’m sure it gave Vikings fans great pleasure to see that progress on the field in on Friday night.
Sure, Sam Bradford was pressured on a few occasions and showed great pocket presence to avoid a couple of incoming Seattle defenders but generally he had plenty of time to go through his progressions and distribute the football. The additional time Bradford was allowed led to several deep completions and 95 yards on 11 pass attempts. Vikings fans were surely getting excited at the thought of what Bradford could potentially accomplish if the offensive line performs at this level all season.
It initially looked as though Minnesota’s offensive line was struggling with their run blocking but as the game progressed the starters made some effective blocks allowing a certain rookie to make some big plays (more on him later). Bradford gave his opinion of the offensive line’s performance to the team website;
"“I think those guys up front, they played really well tonight,” Bradford said. “I thought they did a really nice job in the run game, just changing the line of scrimmage, opening holes for Dalvin to hit. And I thought they played well in the pass game tonight, too, so I’m really proud of those guys and what they were able to do tonight.”"
As a unit the o-line’s performance was even more impressive considering the calibre of their opponents and that Alex Boone and Reilly Reiff were inactive. On an individual level each starter generally performed admirably. Rashod Hill started at Left Tackle in Reiff’s absence for a second consecutive week and played at a respectable level although I did see him whiff on a couple of run blocking assignments in the second quarter. Nick Easton and Pat Elflein put aside their position battle to start at left guard and center respectively, playing the entire first half and working together nicely.
Over on the right side Joe Berger was his usual reliable self and any game where Mike Remmers doesn’t set twitter on fire is a good one in my book. In the second half the backups gave up a few more pressures and allowed Seattle’s solitary sack of the evening but generally provided solid pass protection even if they struggled slightly opening holes in the running game.
The offensive line’s performance throughout the game was unquestionably encouraging, hopefully it continues in the second half of preseason.