Vikings Coach Expects Big Things from 2nd-Year Player

Vikings Need a WR2
Wes Phillips

In 2022, after the new regime took charge, they noticed certain issues with the roster and attempted to tackle them. However, some of their efforts were unsuccessful, particularly on the defensive front. The Vikings have also faced long-standing struggles with their offensive line. Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill, the bookend tackles, were already in place, so the remaining troubles were the interior.

Vikings Coach Expects Big Things from 2nd-Year Player

Vikings Coach Expects Big Things From Second-Year Player
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram (67) defends against Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Vernon Butler (94) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Garrett Bradbury, the former first-round center, was a liability in pass protection in his first three seasons. His breakout campaign was 2022, where he was at least an acceptable pass protector. Left guard Ezra Cleveland continued his annual improvement. At right guard, the Vikings picked Ed Ingram in the second round in an attempt to fix the problems once and for all, with only moderate success.

The rookie had the usual problems in his debut season. Even the jump from the SEC to the NFL shouldn’t be overlooked. His offensive coordinator Wes Phillips is still pleased with the second-year player:

I couldn’t be more pleased with our pick and the fact that he played through the whole year and he worked through a few growing pains as a rookie, as any rookie in this league. Particularly at offensive line where the slightest false step – a receiver can get away with a false step most times – but the slightest thing when you’re inside, especially those interior three and you’ve lost. The way he handled that, he wasn’t faced by it, he didn’t blink by any of that stuff, he just kept trying to get better and he’s in great shape. I think he looks really good coming in and expect big things from him.

Wes Phillips, Vikings OC
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and guard Ed Ingram (67) in action during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The growing pains were indeed real. No guard in the NFL allowed his quarterback to be pressured more often than Ingram. He also allowed the second-most hits and third-most sacks, according to PFF. In addition to that, most folks remember the plays when he stepped on Kirk Cousins’ foot. Issues like that must become a thing of the past.

Regardless, it should be mentioned that he played every single snap and had the sixth-most pass-blocking snaps in the league. His durability is a big plus for the former LSU guard. He also gradually improved over the season, which is a promising sight.

Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a touchdown pass while being rushed by Green Bay Packers defensive end Dean Lowry (94) as guard Ed Ingram (67) blocks during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike last year when the RG spot was a real competition, Ingram should once again be the starting right guard since the Vikings didn’t add any challenger. The only guy who could unseat him is Chris Reed, and he was on the team last year without getting snaps at guard when Ingram had his rookie problems. Reed is a veteran in the league and has played a lot of solid football, but the coaching staff is apparently convinced that the potential of Ingram is superior, even if that means enduring some growing pains. The 24-year-old is eager to get better:

Right now just working on technique and stuff like that. Every day I’m just trying to get better and better at things I can improve on whether that is run block or something in pass protection. Just little things every day I’m working on.

Ed Ingram

One thing that should help the offensive line group is continuity. The whole group, except for Kyle Hinton, returned to the purple team. Offensive line coach Chris Kuper can work with the same players for a second consecutive season. That is different from the Mike Zimmer days when the team seemingly had a couple of new linemen in the starting group every season and even changed some of it during the season.

A Year 2 jump from Ingram could be a big step toward having one of the elite passing attacks in the NFL.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt