PFF Handed out a Couple of Strange Grades vs. Tennessee

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The Minnesota Vikings also lost their second preseason matchup of 2023, falling to 0-2 in the preseason standings, but of course, those are meaningless as every organization starts with a fresh 0-0 record into Week 1. Some players still shined in the losing effort, while others had a disastrous night.

PFF Handed out a Couple of Strange Grades vs. Tennessee

PFF Handed Out a Couple of Strange Grades vs Tennessee
Minnesota Vikings tight end Nick Muse (34) gets around Tennessee Titans safety Mike Brown (44) at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

One of the bright spots in the Vikings lineup was tight end Nick Muse. With T.J. Hockenson, Josh Oliver, and Johnny Mundt all resting, sophomore Muse had the opportunity to showcase his skills to Minnesota’s decision-makers, and that is exactly what he did, hauling in three catches for 46 yards, leading his team in both categories.

He stole the show from the wide receivers who also had the chance to shine, but none stood out in the absence of the top four wideouts Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, Jordan Addison, and Jalen Nailor.

In the meantime, the offensive line didn’t provide much help to spark the passing game, as the group was clearly overwhelmed by the Titans’ defensive line, their biggest strength. Neither the top backups nor the third-string players had any chance.

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One of the backups stood out in a negative way. Right tackle Oli Udoh had a nightmare of a game, allowing two sacks and a couple of penalties, each on back-to-back plays to make things even worse, completely ruining drives. That has been a preexisting problem for the Elon product. He led the league in penalties in the 2021 season when he started at right guard.

Everyone who watched the game would think Muse had a good game, and Udoh did not. If someone asked the whole Minnesota fanbase, the result of who had the better game might be unanimous, it was that obvious.

Still, Pro Football Focus, a company that grades every snap and game from every player, disagrees with that. Udoh received a grade of 65.6, while Muse was stuck at 60.5. But why? Sometimes they don’t put the blame for a sack on the offensive lineman. But a look into the statistics shows Udoh credited with two pressures and two sacks. His pass-blocking grade was 63.5, slightly worse than the run-blocking grade.

Muse, meanwhile, was dragged down by suspect blocking grades as well. He was given a grade of 49.1 in the running game and 55.7 in four pass-blocking reps. As a pass catcher, he received a grade of 66.2, which was the majority of his plays — 27 of 44. He was also credited with a penalty.

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Still, those numbers don’t make much sense. There is nobody that would say Muse had a worse game than Udoh. The tight end clearly put himself on the map, showing why the Vikings should keep a fourth tight end. He did the same in Seattle, catching a beautiful touchdown. Udoh, meanwhile, showed that he might not be as reliable as Brian O’Neill’s backup as most thought a couple of weeks ago.

Left tackle Vederian Lowe has outplayed him in the preseason, and the Vikings could opt to only keep one of the two, especially with Blake Brandel and Ezra Cleveland both providing tackle experience.

The Vikings kept only three tight ends last season, but Muse might convince them to keep a fourth one on the roster this time. Kevin O’Connell wants to run more plays with two or more tight ends on the roster, so that could actually make sense. He has one more week to showcase his skills before the roster gets trimmed down to 53 players.

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