Per Ian Rapaport, Phil Loadholt has torn his pectoral muscle and will need surgery. His season is through.
#Vikings RT Phil Loadholt has torn his pec, source says, and will require surgery. His season is over.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 24, 2014
Loadholt left the game against the Packers with a sore shoulder and did not return. The Vikings said he was questionable to return and after the game said that Loadholt would need an MRI.
Though Loadholt hadn’t been performing up to the standard he had set for himself over the past two years, he had been adequate this season. He was, as always, a better run blocker than pass protector, but still was respectable enough in the pass protection game. His numbers (5 sacks allowed, 6 hits allowed and 22 pressures) are extremely poor, but his film was a little better than that—with the numbers suffering a bit because Teddy would hold on to the ball early on in the season.
Presumably, the tackle that filled in for Loadholt in the Packers game, Mike Harris, will fill in for him. With Matt Kalil already underperforming, Mike Harris—who only has significant snaps as a rookie in San Diego—can only add to the severe liability of the offensive line. Harris’ rookie year was even worse in protection than Kalil is now, allowing ten sacks five hits and 44 hurries in just over half a season of snaps—355. His game against the Packers wasn’t encouraging, but it’s fair to assume that a week of practice with the line can only help.
Harris as a guard and tackle this year has earned a -0.9 grade from Pro Football Focus in pass blocking in 35 pass blocking snaps, with 1 hit and 2 hurries allowed, which isn’t great. More alarmingly, he’s played with little awareness, though he hadn’t been terrible in the run game.
In all likelihood, Harris is better than he was, but it’s hard to imagine he’d be significantly better than Kalil (or we would have theoretically have seen him replace Kalil). With that in mind, the Vikings now officially have the worst pair of offensive tackles in football with a mediocre guard on the left and a backup’s backup on the right. There’s a good chance they went from having one of the best OLs in the NFL last year to the single worst.
Teddy Bridgewater has been pressured on a higher percentage of snaps than all but five quarterbacks this season, per PFF. He’s been hit or sacked on over nine percent of dropbacks, sixth-most of all quarterbacks. We’ll likely see that number rise by season’s end, even if the Vikings switch to a run-first offense with shorter pass drops.
Vikings may have to revert to seven-man protection, with Rhett Ellison earning quite a few snaps as a protector. It will be interesting to see how the Vikings, who rely on edge protection and deep drops in their passing game adapt to this significant blow.