The folks from Pro Football Focus have released their offensive line rankings from this past season. The most surprising takeaway from the list?
Apparently there were offensive lines in the National Football League that were worse than the Minnesota Vikings. I’m not sure if I buy that, but these aren’t my rankings.
According to PFF, there were actually three offensive lines that were worse than the Vikings’ this season, as they have them ranked at #29 out of 32 teams. Let’s take a look at what they had to say about them.
Top overall grade: C Joe Berger, 85.0 (tied for No. 7)
Top pass-blocking grade: C Joe Berger, 87.9 (tied for No. 3)
Top run-blocking grade: C Joe Berger, 80.7 (No. 7)
The Vikings’ offensive line became a disaster as the year went on. Matt Kalil had been playing poorly before he went down, but it turns out the drop-off from even that level of play to T.J. Clemmings was precipitous. Clemmings gave up nine sacks, 12 penalties, and 58 total QB pressures between right and left tackle over the year, and in the second half of the season, the Vikings were operating an offense virtually impossible to surrender pressure in, with the league’s lowest average depth of target and one of the faster average times to throw. The play of center Joe Berger saves this unit from being ranked among the very worst in the league, and while Alex Boone didn’t exactly justify his contract, he was solid in his first year with the team.
To put it mildly, everyone on the Vikings’ offensive line not named Joe Berger was a disaster in 2016. The PFF rankings mention Boone, but he was ranked #38 out of 74 qualified guards in their rankings with a grade of 76.5. That’s a whole lot better than Brandon Fusco, who was #62 out of 74 with a grade of 52.8. Among players that did not get enough snaps to qualify, Zac Kerin had a grade of 57.6, while Willie Beavers checked in at 48.7.
The tackle rankings were just as bad. Jeremiah Sirles had a grade of 67.2, which put him at #49 out of 81 qualified tackles. That puts him a full thirty spots ahead of T.J. Clemmings, who tied for 79th. . .or, to put it another way, second from the bottom. . .at 28.3. (He did spend most of the season as PFF’s lowest-graded tackle.) Jake Long didn’t play enough snaps to qualify, but wound up grading out at 63.2. Speaking of injured tackles, Matt Kalil had a grade of 36.9 and Andre Smith a 39.3 mark.
At the center spot, you can see Joe Berger’s score above, while Nick Easton came in with a final grade of 45.9, which places him at #38 out of the 40 qualified centers graded by PFF.
Of the three teams that PFF deemed to have worse offensive lines than Minnesota’s, two of them wound up in this year’s playoff field. The Miami Dolphins were ranked #30, while the Seattle Seahawks were graded as having the worst offensive line in the NFL. The San Diego Chargers were ranked in-between those two clubs at #31.
I’d like to assure you that the Vikings’ offensive line can’t possibly be any worse in 2017. Of course, I believe I gave you that assurance following the 2015 season, and just look at where that got us. So, let’s just hope that the offensive line can’t possibly get any worse and go from there.