We know that the Minnesota Vikings fared much better on the offensive line in 2017 than they did in the disaster that was the 2016 season. One of the main reasons for that is, well, they couldn’t have been a hell of a lot worse than they were in 2016. Seriously, that was a disaster from start to finish.
However, after some personnel upgrades along the front line, the Vikings did do a much better job of pass blocking in 2017. But, how much of that was on the offensive line and how much of that was the ability of quarterback Case Keenum to run for his life?
Well, the folks from Pro Football Focus came out with their pass blocking efficiency scores from the 2017 season, and the Vikings were in the upper half of the league, clocking in at #13 overall. Here’s what they had to say about the unit:
The Vikings offensive line was far from stable throughout the 2017 season and that lack of continuity took its toll on the passing game. The team ended the campaign with 154 pressures allowed on 572 passing plays, but it easily could have been more without the help of quarterback Case Keenum escaping sacks at an incredible rate. The bright spot on the line was guard Nick Easton, who allowed just three hits and nine hurries on his 401 pass-block snaps and finished one of just five guards to play more than 400 pass-block snaps without allowing a sack. With so much invested in new quarterback Kirk Cousins, the offensive line will need to improve their play heading into the new league year.
Yes, their highlighted player was Easton, who finished the year with the top Pass Blocking Efficiency score of any Vikings’ offensive lineman.
It’s a bit of a strange thing. We’ve often said that, of all the players on the offensive line, Easton was the one that the Vikings could most easily afford to lose and the one that they could, in all likelihood, most easily upgrade from. And yet, I’d be willing to wager that if we were to go back and chart things. . .or, if someone that knows anything about charting games were to do that. . .we’d see that the Vikings’ ability to block opposing pass rushers took a significant dive after Easton fractured his ankle in Week 16.
Cousins doesn’t have quite the mobility that Keenum does, though I do think he’s significantly more mobile than Sam Bradford. So, hopefully the Vikings’ offensive line can continue on their upward trajectory and not have to worry about their quarterback having to constantly run for his life.