New Injuries and Futility — Vikings Encounter Hellscape at GB

The Minnesota Vikings dropped to the No. 3 seed in the NFC after a befuddling loss at the Green Bay Packers on Sunday — and probably lost two offensive linemen along the way.

The game quickly became one of those “classic” hellscapes for the Vikings, where absolutely nothing goes right, and the nightmares you foresee come to fruition. Think: the 2000 NFC Championship, the Dallas Cowboys game in 2022, and the 1st Half of the Indianapolis Colts showdown a couple of weeks ago.

Indeed, it was “one of those games” where everything spiraled into worse-getting-worse. And it occurred against the Vikings most hated foe. Yes, them.

New Injuries and Futility — Vikings Encounter Hellscape at GB

While the loss was more than enough to serve as the worst part of the Vikings afternoon, somehow, the fallout became grimmer. Foremost, backup center Austin Schlottmann, who’s been filling in for the injured Garrett Bradbury, broke his fibula. He’s on ice until the summer. After that — and a significantly more vile development — 2021 Pro Bowler Brian O’Neill injured his calf. Folks around the Vikings organization don’t sound optimistic about it — at all.

New Injuries and Futility
Feb 4, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Minnesota Vikings tackle Brian O’Neill. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Regarding O’Neill, head coach Kevin O’Connell said, “It sounds like we’re going to need [Oli Udoh].”

This is coach-speak for “he gone.” To a degree, the Vikings were experiencing a decent season via pass protection, ranking 10th in NFL per offensive line efficiency. Now, they’ll possibly return to a familiar brand of Vikings football — leaky trenches with mere hopes that Kirk Cousins isn’t ransacked too much.

Of course, Oli Udoh could turn heads and fill in admirably, but O’Neill is one of the league’s top right tackles. He ain’t replaceable.

More Details on Oli Udoh's Arrest
Aug 27, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Oli Udoh. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

The embarrassment of losing to Green Bay by 24 and subtracting O’Neill + Schlottmann arrives as the Vikings push toward the postseason. Minnesota will host a playoff game on the weekend of January 14th against the New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, or Green Bay Packers. For interested parties, it will probably be the Giants.

If the Vikings needed a low point in 2022, it has cometh. Getting beat by Green Bay is awful at any time on the calendar, but it is supersized when the Packers are desperate to reach the playoffs, the RT is lost for a while, and the playoffs begin in two weeks.

Vegas Has an Odd Beef with Kevin O'Connell
Kevin O’Connell

Thankfully, center Garrett Bradbury should theoretically be back for the postseason, meaning the RT spot would be the only glaring question mark. Bradbury has missed four consecutive games because of a back injury. He wasn’t always a fan-favorite but seemed “unlocked” by O’Connell’s coaching staff.

The Vikings responded well to butt-bruisings so far in 2022, particularly after losses to the Eagles, Cowboys, and Lions. The bounceback is needed now more than ever as win-or-go-home stakes loom.

Minnesota hits the road for a Week 18 date with the Chicago Bears. It is unclear as of Sunday night if O’Connell will play starters.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).