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Vikings OL play: Week 1, Part 2

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Josh takes a look at the rest of the offensive line in the Week 1 win

Atlanta Falcons v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

After working my way through the tape of the left side of the Vikings’ line, I came to the general conclusion that Reiff had an okay day but that Pat Elflein definitely had a better day (and particular a better second half) than a lot of people were crediting him for having.

You can find my first article in this series here. Now, onto the second!

Garrett Bradbury

Much was made of his abysmally low PFF score. But would that hold up to a second viewing?

Quarter One: It was an okay but not great first quarter in the NFL for Bradbury. The Falcons had DT Tyeler Davison going against Bradbury for most of the quarter, and generally Bradbury won those matchups, though it was a good battle to watch.

Bradbury in my mind got away with a holding call on Davison on the short pass to the right to Diggs midway through the quarter, but generally managed him well other than that. That was (in my view) Bradbury’s only fully negative play in the quarter.

I had GB marked down as having six plus reps, four neutral reps, and the one bad rep for the quarter.

Quarter Two: This was....not a great quarter for Bradbury. I had him marked down for five negative plays. Two came against Jarrett, one being a power rush and the other being a nifty swim move that GB couldn’t handle. And speaking of swim moves, I was surprised at how often GB lost a rep because of a swim move, and Davison got him at least twice with his. His other negative play was obviously the snap that went awry and ended with Kirk laying on top of it, thankfully.

Even with his noticeably bad quarter, I did still have GB as having 10 successful plays, and some of them were really impressive too. On back-to-back plays, his ability to block on the line, pass his man off, then block a second player in the second level of action were directly responsible for the last 5-10 yards of Dalvin Cook’s 22-yard run on the third TD drive and a lot of Mattison’s 17-yard run the very next play.

He had four neutral plays in the quarter, one where he did get up to the second level for a block but then couldn’t land the block (close to a negative but nobody he was close to made the play), one where he worked a double-team with Kline but didn’t lock the man down as much as I’ve seen him do at other times, played his man to a stalemate on the Cook try to get into the end zone on the play before Kirk’s leap over the line, and then was in the middle of what looked to be a good block before someone rolled into his ankles and tripped him up.

Quarter Three: Bradbury’s third quarter was, thankfully, more like his first than second quarter. His only fully negative play was when he was lined up against Jarrett and the Atlanta DT again made good use of a swim move to work right past Bradbury and make the stop.

He had a string of five straight positive plays to help the Vikings close in on their final touchdown of the game, and even though Davison sent him to the ground with a ferocious toss on the touchdown run by Cook, it was after Bradbury had cleared space for Cook to move towards Reiff in the second level and start pushing towards the end zone. It was a 7/4/1 rep quality split in the third.

Quarter Four: I’d say the fourth was Bradbury’s best quarter overall, which isn’t great because it’s also the quarter where he and the rest of the Vikings offense only had nine snaps. But his only negative play in the quarter came when he didn’t get enough of his original blocking assignment while trying to get up to the second level and his first assignment made the tackle.

With the entire quarter featuring nothing but running plays, GB’s assignment difficulty varied slightly from having nobody to block on one play in particular where the defensive line alignment meant he started and ended the play without anybody to block to again showing that he can block two players at once while on the move.

OVERALL BRADBURY SUMMARY: I was hoping that I’d again be in a position where I could disagree with the PFF grades, but I think they were right on the money in this case, as was Zim when he said that GB didn’t have a great game. I’m not sure what he needs to do going forward to keep himself from being too susceptible to those swim moves that made Jarrett so deadly when the two of them faced off, but that needs to be corrected ASAP because it was a noticeable weakness for Bradbury in the game.

Not that Bradbury didn’t have plenty of good blocks, because he did. But of the three players I’ve charted so far, his game was definitely the weakest. And yet, when charting his plays, he again ended up with the same number of truly bad reps (eight) as Reiff and Elf did, with a slightly higher number of positive (in my book) plays than Elf had (29/14/8).

(Bradbury charting)

Josh Kline

Kline and the final OL to be analyzed, Brian O’Neill, were considered to have had the best days of the OL players. Now that I’ve seen how rarely that Jarrett would actually take on either Elf or GB, I’m interested to see how Kline and O’Neill did against Atlanta’s defensive line.

Quarter One: It wasn’t a great start to the quarter for Kline, as I had him marked for two neutral snaps and a negative (his only one of the quarter, thankfully) in the first three plays from scrimmage.

Once he got through that tough stretch, and particularly in the mid-second and throughout the third drive, what of it was in the first quarter anyway, Kline was very good. He ended the first on a string of five straight positive plays, and was seven for his last eight in having positive plays, with the only non-positive play being a rep where he dropped back into his set, which allowed Jarrett to get fairly close to KC, but even then Kline was able to stone Jarrett in his tracks when he got fully set.

Quarter Two: This was a super weird quarter for me to look at. For one thing, this is the only quarter so far where positive plays haven’t been the dominant play. In this case, neutral ones ruled the day for Kline, as he had a 6/10/2 distribution. From what I could see, this was due to a couple of factors.

First of all, the blocking schemes combined with the defensive line setups by the Falcons led to Kline blocking literally nobody on at least three different snaps. And not even in a bad way, there just wasn’t really much for him to do on the plays. Looked like the protection calls on one or two of those plays might have had Kline accounting for a potential linebacker blitz but the player just backed off into coverage instead.

Kline actually had the most trouble with Takk McKinley in this quarter, and I believe Takk was responsible for both of Kline’s negative snaps in the quarter.

Quarter Three: Kline was so close to having a clean third quarter, but he just didn’t hold onto one block long enough and it allowed his man to make a tackle on Cook in the run game.

Besides that one small mistake, Kline had a much better third quarter. It was a 9/2/1 split in favor of positive plays, with the two neutral plays again being plays where the blocking scheme and defensive positioning meant that Kline really didn’t end up blocking anybody. This was just a super clean quarter from Kline and if he can have more quarters like these throughout the season, the Vikings will be getting great return on their small investment in him.

Quarter Four: A slightly down quarter from Kline, as he had just a 6/1/2 split in his rep quality. The first of the two negative plays was where he just didn’t quite hold onto his block long enough and it allowed his man to make the tackle, the second was when he couldn’t quite make it to a pass-off from Bradbury and that allowed the DL player for the Falcons to make the play.

As for the other plays, just a real solid quarter from Kline otherwise. He got good push in the run game and was regularly creating the hole used for the Vikings’ backs.

OVERALL KLINE SUMMARY: Kline had the fewest negative plays of anybody on the line so far (six), though he had plenty of neutral plays where he didn’t make much of an impact just because of how everything played out.

I think Vikings fans should be happy with how Kline played, because if he can replicate that kind of performance throughout the rest of the season, the Vikings will have definitely upgraded their right guard position from the last couple of seasons.

(Kline charting)

Brian O’Neill

Took a while but we’ve finally reached the final player on the Vikings offense. Now let’s see how the man who missed most of the preseason did in his first game action.

Quarter One: Legitimately, the Vikings could not have asked for a better first quarter from their second-year right tackle. He only got chip help once, and he is the first offensive lineman in this analysis to have a quarter without a negative play to his name.

The closest he came was coming very close to earning a holding call on Grady Jarrett in the ground game but since he wasn’t called for it, I left it as a neutral play because it did help the RB get some yardage.

He also faced Grady Jarrett more than I expected, and by far he did the best job in any given quarter of taking on the best defensive lineman the Falcons have to offer.

Quarter Two: Considering how good his first quarter was, I was very disappointed in O’Neill’s second quarter play. This was the first quarter where I charted one of our offensive linemen having more negative plays than positive plays in a single quarter (eight vs. seven).

One particular stretch in the quarter was super bad for O’Neill. He had three straight plays where Vic Beasley, who was lined up wider than a DE usually is, beat him around the edge and nearly/did affect the play (two pass rushes, one run play) and then had a fourth play right after that stretch where he got do-si-doed by an interior DL on a run play that thankfully was not in his direction.

When he was on, though, O’Neill had reps where he looked like his first quarter self again. He was a big reason that Cook’s long run on the third TD drive happened because he helped seal the edge and had a couple of other nice blocks in the run game.

Quarter Three: The third quarter was a good recovery for O’Neill. He still struggled on a couple plays, but I had him charted for just a single negative rep in the quarter and it didn’t affect the play because it came on the run play that helped set up the Vikings’ final touchdown and it went to the left side of the field.

A 7/4/1 split left him with a number of nice reps, including several more good run-blocking reps and yet another time where O’Neill got Jarrett down to the ground when the two were matched up with each other on a zone run to the left.

Quarter Four: Just an okay quarter from O’Neill. He had four positive reps, two neutral reps, and three straight poor reps. This quarter’s poor reps were mostly due to him not sustaining his blocks as long as he could/should have, but he was definitely in the right position to make them last another second or two.

OVERALL O’NEILL SUMMARY: If the Vikings can get the O’Neill that showed up in quarters one and three for the rest of the season and Kline plays like he did, their right side will be very, very helpful in keeping defensive players away from Cousins. If he has days like the second quarter though, O’Neill will have some issues.

I’ll willing to cut him a little more slack than the others considering he missed a lot of the preseason, and his first quarter really was good. He just needs to work on sustaining his blocks better and finding a way to handle ends who are lined up out as wide as Beasley was during that second quarter stretch where he made O’Neill’s life miserable. His 26/13/12 split in rep quality isn’t great, and he really needs to have a better game tomorrow against the Packers, especially if the Smiths are playing anywhere near as good as they did in the NFL opener.

(O’Neill charting)

Overall offensive line impressions

Kline was the best of the bunch from what I saw, and was certainly the most consistently good player of the bunch. Reiff was probably second behind him in general average play quality, and the other three were all over the board with their play having some very high highs and some rather low lows when they made mistakes.

This is an offensive line that is still learning to play together, but I think they can continue improving and making themselves look even better than they did in Week 1.