Last week, Bill Musgrave took some heat from local beat writers for failing to put injured tight end Kyle Rudolph on the field in certain scoring situations. I even poked some fun at Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan when I disagreed with his stance that Musgrave misused his various tight ends versus the Broncos.
This week, the roles are going to be reversed.
I argued last week that Jim Kleinsasser’s presence as a blocker was far more beneficial to the Vikings offense than the pass catching abilities of Rudolph. It wasn’t meant as a knock to Rudolph, he is a fine player, but the Vikings couldn’t afford to see their quarterback further injure himself in a meaningless game behind the leakiest of offensive lines. Furthermore, Kleinsasser’s presence on the field will at least suggest that the play being run could possibly be a run.
Fast forward to this week.
There are eight seconds left in the fourth quarter. The ball is at the one yard line. Kyle Rudolph, much to Souhan’s pleasure, is lined up wide left while Visanthe Shiancoe is on the line next the right tackle. Two receivers are on the right side. Webb takes the snap.
Shiancoe bursts off the line, leaving only four blockers (okay, five, if you count Phil Loadholt) against six Lions defenders rushing the quarterback.
In an all too predictable fashion, left tackle Charlie Johnson is quickly overwhelmed by two defenders and both blow by him. The clock literally reads “:08” when linebacker DeAndre Levy first makes contact with Joe Webb’s facemask, meaning he had a grand total of a second to make a play.
Of course, Webb didn’t make a play, and instead the result was a disastrous fumble and an travelling game of hacky sack.
The game was over.
Like everyone else that couldn’t help but get caught up in the possibility of a dramatic comeback, I was disappointed in the outcome. Unlike those that were focused on the lack of a facemask penalty, however, I was busy wondering why Jim Kleinsasser wasn’t on the field to provide the blocking needed to at least have a chance of making a play.
Without him, defenders took one second to get to Webb and there was zero chance of a play being made, regardless of if Rudolph or Betty White were the ones running the route.
Earlier in the game Webb had the time to throw a two yard touchdown pass to Toby Gerhart. Webb threw the pass after three seconds ticked off the clock and had nobody within six yards of him. Jim Kleinsasser, coincidentally enough, was holding a very solid block against Cliff Avril.
Even the shiftiest of quarterbacks need more than one second to make things happen and even the toughest of quarterbacks can suffer an injury. With the Vikings offensive line barely able to stay upright on any given play, Musgrave should continue to use Kleinsasser to at least attempt to prevent future disasters.