Published on October 19th, 2014 | by Thompson0
Vikings’ Offensive Line Holding Back Bridgewater, McKinnon
The Vikings’ defense played admirably despite a last-second, game-winning touchdown pass from Kyle Orton, Sunday. They forced four turnovers, and the Vikings offense could only muster 16 points in the loss. Patrick Reusse of 1500 ESPN and the Star Tribune has been pretty clear that rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is to blame for the anemic offense. He even wrote that Bridgewater’s performance against Detroit, the NFL’s top-ranked defense, was identical to Christian Ponder’s performance against Green Bay, the NFL’s 19th-ranked defense.
Last time it was all Ponder’s fault for not getting rid of ball, & this week it’s all off. line for not giving Teddy 5 seconds. OK, got it.
— Patrick Reusse (@1500ESPN_Reusse) October 12, 2014
No, you don’t got it, Pat, but your 1500 ESPN colleague Andrew Krammer does. Krammer did some video review and concluded that Ponder “held onto the ball too long” and wasn’t ready to start another NFL game. The offensive line’s performance was identically terrible in each game. Ponder needs more time to get the ball out, and got it because of the Packers’ below-average pass rush, but still couldn’t move or protect the ball. Bridgewater, playing against the best pass rush in the game, had an even shorter period in which to deliver the ball, and matched Ponder’s performance. That should be a testament to Bridgewater’s development and not a testament to Ponder’s ability. Telling Vikings’ fans they should have “shown caution” in purchasing their Bridgewater jerseys only displays Reusse’s incompetence, which he later proves in the column.
“[W]e have no idea if he’s the next Tommy Kramer (good) or the next Ponder (bad). And we won’t for a year or two.”
You may have no idea if Bridgewater will be good or bad, Patrick, but most of the educated public knows he will be better than Ponder. He was better than Ponder in his last year at Louisville, and he won’t be worse than that anytime soon. But if you expect the kid to lead this team overwhelmed by injuries and criminal charges to victories, you’re more than unreasonable. You’re insane. Oh, and no one cares what color gloves Bridgewater wears. The fact you took the time to find a pair of gloves to recommend is exemplary of your incongruous incompetence.
There’s been talk about the need for the Vikings’ receiver corps to run better routes and get open more often, but I hope we haven’t forgotten that instead of an All-Pro running back behind Bridgewater, there’s another rookie in third-round pick Jerick McKinnon. But neither Bridgewater or McKinnon is to blame for the Vikings’ offensive woes. The offensive line has been absolutely terrible and isn’t giving either rookie a chance to use their talents effectively in the NFL.
The offensive line didn’t have to work so hard to open running lanes with Adrian Peterson in the backfield, so it never had to be a team strength. That has come back to bite the Vikings in the butt in a big way. Drafting Matt Kalil fourth overall hasn’t helped, and Reusse offered a bit of a redemptive column four days after the aforementioned fiasco calling Matt Kalil the biggest bust of Rick Spielman’s career as Vikings’ general manager.
The Vikings’ running game has been virtually nonexistent until McKinnon busted the longest running play the Bills have given up all year on Sunday – 29 whole yards. The Vikings finished with 158 yards rushing and a 5.4-yard average, which was higher than their passing average, partially because of Norv Turner’s ultra-conservative play calling, and partially because of Bridgewater missing open receivers and checking down to McKinnon and Asiata (three receptions for 11 yards between them). But mostly, the offensive line has been terrible, especially in pass protection.
The Vikings’ offensive line has literally trapped Bridgewater inside a pocket that is sewn shut in four seconds. Bridgewater’s mobility isn’t being utilized because the pressure is coming from the ends of the pocket, where he’d like to escape to extend plays. Unfortunately, his only escape route has been up the middle, where he’s more likely to run into a linebacker or dump off a short pass to McKinnon or Asiata. Until the offensive line is shored up, both Bridgewater and McKinnon will struggle to develop into the players fans and coaches expect.