With rookie offensive line catalyst Ezra Cleveland sidelined Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, many worried the offensive line might regress to pre-Cleveland performance levels despite the fact that the team started Brett Jones at right guard instead of bust Dru Samia. While parts of the line struggled, namely in Dakota Dozier, Cleveland’s replacement in Jones had the best day of the Vikings linemen and may have carved out a starting role in the process.
Whether that’s true remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say he earned a spot with his 75 grade from Pro Football Focus. When you juxtapose that with this terrible tidbit of information, you’ll get what I mean.
As for Jones, take this paragraph from the Pioneer Press’ Dan Mizutani:
“His teammates heaped praise on the 29-year-old Canadian in the days leading up to the game, and Jonesresponded by earning an overall grade of 75.0, according to Pro Football Focus, the highest mark of all Vikings offensive linemen.”
I guess I just re-iterated what I said above, but hey you gotta get to 500-words somehow!
Anyway, with a line of Riley Reiff, Brett Jones, Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland and Brian O’Neill, the Vikings very well could be onto something positive at the position group that we haven’t seen in years in Minnesota.
While the playoffs may be out of reach (unless they expand to and eighth team in each conference), the above line configuration gives these Vikings the best shot to get there (especially as they’ll need more long, methodical drives to keep their defense on the sidelines as long as possible) outside of having Jones/Cleveland play corner.