After a disappointing 2018 campaign, much blame was placed on the offensive line of the Minnesota Vikings. However, the unit has a unique approach to 2019.
The Minnesota Vikings didn’t quite meet the expectations that fans and experts had for the squad last year. The team couldn’t run the football and struggled to protect their quarterback…and blame for that rests on the shoulders of the offensive line.
Major changes were made on the line this offseason. There will be a new face at three of the starting spots from the end of last year, and some of the underperforming players who were named starters last year were either let go or will act as backups in 2019.
By now, fans know many of the changes made. A first-round draft pick was used on center Garrett Bradbury, allowing Pat Elflein to move to left guard. Brian O’Neill replaces Rashod Hill as the team’s right tackle. Plus, an open competition for the right guard spot should be fun, with vocal fans hoping for either Dru Samia or Josh Kline to win the battle.
O’Neill’s situation is interesting because the team wanted him to bulk up before playing right tackle, but he played well when forced into the role last year. Now, with that extra mass as well as a year of experience under his belt, he should continue to hone his craft and anchor the line for Minnesota.
Recently, WCCO-CBS Minneapolis shared a conversation they had with O’Neill and the way he discussed the offensive line’s approach to the 2019 NFL season was quite interesting.
“We don’t go into meetings saying, ‘This is what we did last year, this is what we’re going to do to be better.’ That’s not how we’re doing it. We’re worried about the 2019 Minnesota Vikings offense and the offensive line, and I’m just trying to be the best version of me in 2019. And the way we do that is by focusing on nothing other than tomorrow, and how to get better tomorrow. To be honest, this is this year, and this is this group, and we’re excited about starting from zero and getting going.”
There are two major thoughts that can come from this. The first is that if you don’t learn from the past, you are doomed to repeat your mistakes. The other is that dwelling on the past can impact future performances and players need to shake off the negatives and keep working hard.
Strangely enough, these words are encouraging. This isn’t the same offensive line from last year. The circumstances surrounding the line aren’t the same, with new coaches, a new blocking scheme, and many new faces in new places making this a different unit from what was on the field in 2018.
Hopefully, history does not repeat itself. Another breakdown for the offensive line would be devastating for the Minnesota Vikings offense in 2019, but if the players keep working hard and bring their A-game every time, this could be a great year for the purple and gold.