• The Packers' pass rush is somewhere in the neighborhood of league average (and no, I will not burn the promised 1 stat to prove this. Sure, they overperformed in this particular game, but they're not the Giants by any stretch).
• Jay Cutler nearly died yesterday, while putting up a passer rating pretty close to the number of picks he threw and sacks he took.
• The Vikings' offensive line (OL) last year was atrocious.
What does #3 have to do with the first two? As I wrote in the comments yesterday, when an above-average veteran quarterback with legitimate running and receiving weapons fails so epically like Cutler (and to an extent, Rodgers) did yesterday because his OL is a sieve, it makes you wonder how Christian Ponder and Joseph Webb The First put up even double-digit passer ratings last year behind the unit the Vikings trotted out. This is not to imply that either of them is a better quarterback than Rodgers or Cutler, but it does raise the question of how much a quarterback's protection can make (see Cutler vs Colts) or break (see Cutler, literally broken today) his performance. Moreover, even the league's elite quarterbacks may go from leadin' to Weeden if their protection breaks down -- behind our front five, were Ponder/Webb more valuable to us than even Tom Brady could have been? Which brings us to the two reasons for optimism, below the jump.
• The Vikings' offensive line. What a difference one offseason can make. Last year's debacle has turned into arguably the most promising young offensive line in the division, one that will only get better as they grow together over time. As Arif astutely pointed out, the front five plus blockers like Felton and Ellison were impressive last week by any standard. Given the current state of offensive lines across the division (though see prior comment about one offseason making a difference), it's hard to resist being optimistic about The Five Norsemen and their esquires Jerome and Rhett.
• Christian Ponder. This is not to say whether Ponder will be a great quarterback, and certainly not to reignite the Ponder vs Webb discussion. The point is that behind a competent line, Ponder (or Webb, or even MBT if he becomes the starter) will at least have a chance to reach his potential. Even if he never reaches elite status, I'll be a lot more comfortable knowing that we got a clear answer and didn't ruin the guy's early career.
And finally, the one statistic:
• 5 out of 11. That would be the number of offensive linemen and the total number of offensive players on the field, respectively. Not particularly sophisticated, but hey, neither is my brain (at least until I inceptionize Arif and steal his secrets). If there's ever doubt that football games are won in the trenches, let's remember that there are almost as many linemen as there are players at every other position on offense combined. And the purpose of this post is really just to provide a forum to discuss any and all things related to these impossibly large, fast dudes. Because as goes the line, so goes the offense. Just ask Jay Cutler.