Kevin O’Connell Doesn’t Agree with Popular Take

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The Minnesota Vikings fell short of collecting their first victory in this year’s preseason game at the Seahawks. But much more important than the result is how well some prominent players performed. The general tenor in Minnesota’s fanbase is that rookie Jordan Addison and running back Ty Chandler are looking great, but offensive guard Ed Ingram is not. Head coach Kevin O’Connell disagreed with the last part.

Kevin O’Connell Doesn’t Agree with Popular Take

Agree With Popular Take
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Ingram is in his second year and is expected to continue to start at his right guard spot, especially since the front office hasn’t added any competition for him in the offseason despite his underwhelming rookie campaign.

However, Ingram was the lone starter of the offensive line group that actually played in the preseason, which, of course, was a bad look for him. Is his starting spot in jeopardy? Is this a punishment for not practicing well? Turns out, O’Connell wanted him to gain more experience. At least he sold it that way.

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While the general opinion of Ingram’s first exposure to an actual game is negative, O’Connell made clear that he was pleased with Ingram’s level of play.

First and foremost, Ed played a lot of football last year but he’s still in his second year. There were some other second-year players out there as well to make sure that we’re doing our part to get those guys primed and ready for the season and all that will entail for them. Ed really wanted to play, he was fired up for the opportunity. Ed graded out pretty well across the board.

There were some miscommunication issues that took place on a couple of plays where there might not have been a protection call and it might have looked maybe worse from a fan’s perspective than what it actually was but there also some really positive stuff on the tape and Ed has shown improvement throughout training camp and hopefully, we’ll continue to see that throughout the joint practices and whatever work he gets the rest of the way in the preseason.

We look at that from the standpoint of each individual player and what they can control based upon all the determining factors involved and then they get their grade that way and sometimes with a player like Ed, you’re asking for a little more, ‘hey, make that right. You know that call can’t be made at that moment or we need a call, make a call.’ And that was a great experience that he wouldn’t have gotten, had he not played. It’s just about the repetition we’re trying to get certain players and we truly have an individual plan for every single player on our football team from the 90th man all the way down to Justin Jefferson.

Kevin O’Connell

That doesn’t sound like a coach talking about a player who is about to lose his job. Ingram’s rookie season was not an acceptable one. His statistics were awful. He allowed the most pressure among offensive linemen, the second-most quarterback hits, and the third-most sacks.

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Regardless of his first season, O’Connell seeing growth is a good sign, just like the coach demanding from his guard a leadership role in the protection calls if something doesn’t feel right. Coaches don’t raise expectations for a player who they are about to bench or if they don’t think that player doesn’t have any untapped potential left.

According to PFF, Ingram allowed one QB hit in the game. Nick Mullens was in trouble. But that pressure was the aforementioned miscommunication. Ingram appeared to be lost, while one guy close to him had an unblocked gap toward Mullens. Apparently, the protection wasn’t set right, and Ingram isn’t the guy to blame for, at least not more than his teammates.

Last year, Christian Darrisaw made a fabulous jump in his second year. Ingram could also experience one of those improvements in his sophomore season, although unlikely to the same extent.

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Even though O’Connell spoke confidently about his right guard, the team had free agent Dalton Risner in for a visit a couple of weeks ago, and he is still available. Ingram will get the opportunity to practice against the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals in the joint practices, something O’Connell values highly, and then he might get some more reps in the two preseason contests.

Ultimately, Vikings fans have a good reason to be concerned about Ingram after years of struggling lines and his shaky rookie season, but still, he is a young player and deserves some time to develop into the player he can be, at least as long as it doesn’t cost the Vikings games.

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