Blocking is really hard. It is a combination of technique, power, speed, angles, leverage, and a whole list of other words that lead to what we see on TV on Sundays. That, plus the fact that there is one of the best athletes in the world on the other side of you trying to make sure you look like a piece of printer paper, helps make blocking an often thankless job. We are quick to praise runners (and deservedly so!) but do not always get to take the time to appreciate the fight that happens in the trenches.
On Sunday, the Vikings gave us a few occasions where we could point out some great blocking. Particularly early in the game, the ground attack helped spring a 20-6 halftime lead. Let’s take a look at the block party:
Everyone is invited
Offensive linemen are asked to block on every single play. Wide receivers, on the other hand, are not given this same responsibility. However, K.J. Osborn showed he was a willing blocker on multiple occasions and earned himself an invite to the block party. Osborn is by no means the biggest player on the Vikings, but his effort and attention to hand placement and foot drive led to some key blocks:
KJ Osborn and friends putting in the dirty work pic.twitter.com/COx0d8vCHv— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 6, 2022
KJ Osborn with some more blocking on the edge pic.twitter.com/GVNzf0S6uC— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 6, 2022
Having a receiver that will block like this allows the Vikings to stay in their 11 personnel (1 running back, 1 tight end, 3 wide receivers) sets while still having an attitude in the run game.
In the zone
The Vikings are primarily a zone running offense. Their variations are not as plentiful as you may see across the league, and the plays depend on double teams. If the offensive line is able to execute their double teams, move the line of scrimmage, and get a lineman up to the second level, the Vikings are in business. For a long thread of wide zone and its many intricacies, click here and go down the rabbit hole.
On the Vikings’ first touchdown run, they were running inside zone. This play depended on the double teams between the left guard and center, as well as the right guard and right tackle. All four players were pivotal in paving the way for Dalvin Cook’s score:
Pretty rep of inside zone for a TD. Both LG/C (Cleveland/Bradbury) and RG/RT (Ingram/O'Neill) doubles get movement and are able to get to LBs pic.twitter.com/NHHMjxyKrG— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 6, 2022
Wide zone can be difficult to block as the double teams are working laterally and vertically at a quick tempo. Overtaking on the back side of the double to allow the point player to climb up to the second level is important for the way the Vikings run wide zone:
A lot of good on this wide zone rep:— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 6, 2022
-C overtakes 2i
-LG climbs to LB
-LT and TE win their combo up enough to give the RB space pic.twitter.com/C9R6FgcQv3
T.J. Hockenson, oft maligned for his blocking in Detroit, has been settling into Minnesota’s zone system. Though Alexander Mattison’s touchdown run came on a gap scheme play (Duo), Hockenson made a key block and allowed one of our favorite celebrations of the year to occur.
Vikings washing down the DL on a DUO TD. Hockenson with a nice block, Mattison with a BYOB/be your own blocker to make 1 miss pic.twitter.com/ypBo7mv9Ja— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 6, 2022
This upcoming Sunday, try to tell your local offensive lineman that you appreciate them. But don’t forget, receivers and tight ends are important in the run game as well!