Vikings Offensive Line Dominates. Again.
One of the most enjoyable trends for this season is watching the offensive line of the Vikings. Not only did it play well against the Bears, it flat-out dominated. Kirk Cousins seemed to have all day to throw, and there were massive lanes for Cook and Mattison to run through.
This is a welcomed change of pace for an offensive line that has really struggled the last several years. While there is still much room for improvement, many metrics show this unit as above average. Many people predicted this unit would improve. However, it was difficult to imagine this much improvement.
The weakest part of this unit has once again been the interior. Some of that has to do with starting a rookie. However, even this interior is vastly improved. Here is one astounding statistic: Garrett Bradbury, who many, including myself, wanted the Vikings to get rid of, is currently ranked 8th in pass block win rate as a center — 8th in the NFL, which equates to a 97% win rate.
Not only has he been superb in pass protection, but he has also been outstanding in the run game. Bradbury currently ranks 8th with a 73% win rate in run blocking.
If anyone had told you Bradbury would have been this good in 2022, you would have laughed in their face. But this dude has been lights out. The best part is it is not just him winning. Two other Vikings are listed in the top 10 in these ESPN rankings.
- Brian O’Neill – ranks 9th in pass block win rate as an OT
- Christian Darrisaw – ranks 1st in run block win rate as an OT
Darrisaw Is Living up to the Preseason Hype
During the preseason, everyone knew that Brian O’Neill would continue being good. That is his standard and what we have come to expect. However, Darrisaw was being compared to Trent Williams.
This comparison at the time seemed to be a bit premature. Even Trent Williams said that Darrisaw reminded him of a younger version of himself. Regardless of all this hype, we needed him to come out and prove it.
Boy, oh boy, has he ever proved all of those takes to be correct.
Not only is he winning, but he is also manhandling grown super-athletes. In Week 1, he pancaked Rashan Gary, who is in the running for defensive player of the year. This week, he did the same thing to Robert Quinn.
Christian Darrisaw’s leap forward from his rookie year has been nothing short of spectacular. If he continues on this trajectory, the Vikings will have two of the best offensive tackles in the league.
The Vikings Offensive Line Has Been Excellent as a Unit
The best part about this season is it is not just one or two guys playing well. The entire unit has played well and is improving as the season progresses. This is a welcomed change of pace.
- Team Pass Block Win Rate (ESPN) – 67% (6th in NFL)
- Team Run Block Win Rate (ESPN) – 74% (7th in NFL)
- Team Pass Protection (PFF) – 14th in NFL
- Team Run Blocking (PFF) – 4th in NFL
The improvement in pass blocking can be attributed to the improvement in the interior. Too many times over the last few years, we have seen Bradbury get walked back into Cousins, or the Vikings would have a guard commit a holding penalty or get bowled over. That has not been the case this year.
These improvements were the reason for Cousins’ ability to complete 17 consecutive passes, breaking the Vikings’ record. It has long been known that Cousins can pick apart a defense when he has time in the pocket. That was on display against the Bears.
If the Vikings’ offensive line continues and improves on their play so far, which is possible, this team offense will be everything we thought it would be — and more.
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Mitch Massman is a lifelong Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3