We’re continuing our series of questions with Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders, which we’re doing in conjunction with the release of the Football Outsiders Almanac for 2018. Yesterday we asked about the fit of quarterback Kirk Cousins in the Minnesota Vikings’ offense, and today we stay with the offensive side of the ball and focus on what is the weakest spot on the roster, the offensive line.
The biggest point of contention this season for the Vikings is going to be the offensive line. They were better in 2017 than they were in 2016, but they still don’t seem to be highly regarded. What are your impressions of the Vikings’ offensive line?
It’s the weakest part of an otherwise excellent roster. It did improve from 2016 when it really held the team back, but I think it could still be an issue in the playoffs when you usually see the better defensive fronts. Teams like the Rams and Eagles, which have added more pieces to their line this offseason, could be really bad matchups for the Minnesota offensive line. Those are games where you just have to hope your defense causes more havoc than their defense that day. Having said that, some truly terrible offensive lines (2008 Steelers, 2013 Seahawks, 2015 Broncos) have won Super Bowls behind great defenses and timely quarterback play, so it’s not impossible to win it all without being good up front. You just have to be great almost everywhere else, which describes Minnesota well.
See, you guys? Even if the offensive line is awful, the Vikings can still contend for a championship!
Actually, before we slam on the panic button too hard, I’m not sure if the Vikings’ offensive line is going to be as bad as some pundits think they will be, and it certainly won’t be nearly as bad as the dumpster fire that we saw in 2016. The level of talent on this year’s offensive line is significantly higher than the 2016 line, quite frankly.
While we’ve seen them struggle a bit thus far, I think we can chalk that up to the fact that a lot of players on the line have been out with injuries for much of camp and the first two preseason games. I also tend to think that we haven’t seen a whole lot of what we can expect during the regular season from the play calling of John DeFilippo thus far in the preseason. So, while the Vikings’ offensive line might not be in the top half of the league this season, they certainly aren’t going to be in the sort of abyss they were in during the 2016 season, either.
But, as Scott says in his answer, in order for the team to contend with an offensive line like Minnesota’s, they have to be great everywhere else. . .and it’s definitely hard to argue that this team doesn’t fit that description. Will it be enough? I damn sure hope so.
We’ll have one more offensive question. . .or, more specifically, question about the offense. . .tomorrow before we toss out a couple of questions about the defense. Once again, you can follow Scott on the Twitters at @FO_ScottKacsmar, and be sure to get yourself a copy of the 2018 Football Outsiders Almanac.