Unless you’ve received some sort of assistance in blocking it out of your mind, you can remember just how awful the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line was in 2016. I believe I’ve described it previously as a tire fire that was taking place inside of a dumpster that was also on fire. Rick Spielman and company knew that they needed to improve things in 2017, and they did just that.
According to the folks from NFL.com, the Vikings sported the sixth-best offensive line in the NFL this past season, according to the league’s official website.
Case Keenum told NFL Network’s Deion Sanders that operating the Vikings’ offense was like being ”handed the keys to a Lamborghini” after a late-season win. He wasn’t just boasting about his enviable collection of pass-catching brethren. The Vikings brought in several mid-tier free agents last offseason, and the offensive line gelled as a result, especially in the run game. Consider that in 2016, Minnesota backs gained an average of zero yards before defenders closed within a yard, ranking dead last that season. In 2017, the figure jumped all the way up to 0.53 and into the top six. With the line opening up holes in the run game, the Vikings were able to overcome the early-season loss of rookie Dalvin Cook and ride Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon to keep their ground attack afloat.
While the Vikings’ offensive line was much better in 2017 than it was in 2016. . .in 2016, they would have had difficulty being ranked any higher than #32 on a list like this. . .I think we all know that this is a part of the team that the Vikings will continue to work on this offseason. The team is pretty well solidified at the skill positions (except for that whole pesky quarterback thing) and the defensive side of the ball appears to be pretty stout as well.
The Vikings’ offensive line faded a bit towards the end of the season, and they did wind up shuffling some bodies around towards the end due to injuries. But the leap that the unit made from 2016 to 2017 can’t be overstated. Here’s hoping that they can make just as big a leap from 2017 to 2018.