Vikings OL Actually Wasn’t Bad against Bucs

Vikings Trade
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Because Minnesota Vikings offensive guard Ed Ingram appeared to force a fumble against his own quarterback and because the purple team lost to the blah Tampa Bay Buccaneers, most fans assumed the team’s offensive line played like rubbish.

But that may be false, by the numbers.

Vikings OL Actually Wasn’t Bad against Bucs

Minnesota lost to Tampa Bay 20-17 on Sunday, an embarrassing home defeat to begin a season with moderately high expectations. Pitchforks naturally pounded the grass, and Vikings fans rushed to skewer the offensive line’s performance, a common occurrence for 10+ years in the Midwest.

Bad against
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But according to Ben Baldwin, the Vikings pass protection actually held up — to the tune of eighth-best in football during Week 1. Baldwin posted this stat graphic on the X app Wednesday:

Image Courtesy of @BenBBaldwin on X

The naked eye and aftermath sentiment painted a different picture than the numbers from Baldwin a few days removed from the loss. Of course, it didn’t help that quarterback Kirk Cousins sponsored three turnovers — two fumbles and an interception — but on the whole, Minnesota’s offensive line held up versus Vita Vea, Shaq Barrett, and others.

Ezra Cleveland shined especially, tallying an 84.8 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus. Nifty grades typically don’t follow Cleveland via pass protection; his specialty is run-blocking.

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Meanwhile, Pro Bowl right tackle Brian O’Neill led the entire Vikings roster per PFF grade, registering an 86.4 overall score with 81.5 via pass protection. O’Neill is a Vikings stalwart, drafted in 2018 and often one of the lone bright spots in the trenches until Christian Darrisaw arrived in 2021.

Speaking of Darrisaw, he compiled a forgettable game by his standards, grading 64.4, according to PFF, when the man usually scores in the 80-90 range. His pass-blocking, though, still nibbled at stardom with a 73.9 grade.

Free Agent Reunites
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Center Garrett Bradbury was injured early in the contest and will miss the Week 2 showdown in Philadelphia with a back ailment. Austin Schlottmann took over for the veteran center and promptly banked a 60.7 PFF grade, with a 66.9 pass-blocking score — not elite but doable for a reservist center, especially against Vea and his pals.

On Ingram, well, there was no shine, at least not in Week 1. He caused the aforementioned Cousins fumble and fired up a 46.2 score from PFF. The 40.3 mark via pass protection was particularly concerning — and the reason Vikings fans spent Sunday night, Monday, and Tuesday begging the team to sign free-agent guard Dalton Risner, to no avail as of Wednesday afternoon.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

So, with an offensive line that failed the “eye test” but won the hearts of PFF, SIS, and ESPN, the Vikings head to Philadelphia, taking on perhaps the best interior defensive line in the sport.

The “Was it really good?” sentiment applicable to the Vikings pass protection should be known by all on Friday morning. The Eagles game will rapidly become a tell-all.


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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.