Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line Play Is Crippling the Team

Andy RAnalyst IDecember 10, 2009

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 16: Guard Steve Hutchinson #76 of the Minnesota Vikings watches play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 16, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Before the season began, everyone was proclaiming Adrian Peterson to be the next 2,000-yard rusher. After all, Brett Favre had just joined the roster and was supposed to keep defenses honest, and the Vikings were supposed to have a top-five offensive line.

Well, opposing defenses felt differently and decided if they could take Peterson out of games, Favre would be next in line to try to beat them.

It was a good strategy to follow. Favre is the NFL's record holder for career interceptions. With that gun-slinger mentality, he was bound to make a few mistakes.

Well, the Vikings are sitting at 10-2 largely due to Favre's ability to keep the offense moving. He's having one of the best seasons of his career. While Peterson has seen a lack in production this season, he's still getting the job done.

After getting destroyed by the Cardinals last Sunday, the Vikings showed they have a ton of work to do. Peterson had no where to run and Favre was hounded by fantastic secondary play.

On top of being obliterated by a 7-4 team, the Vikings suffered more injuries in one game than they had all season long. Cedric Griffin, Tyrell Johnson, E.J. Henderson, Phil Loadholt, and Bryant McKinnie all suffered injuries. It's unknown which of these players will play this Sunday against the Bengals (except Henderson who is out for the season).

The defense was beaten up and the offense was halted to minimal yardage, but who do you really have to blame for the offensive struggles?

I've been saying it all season long and no one has listened to me, and although I'm bound to take some criticism for it, I'm calling the offensive line out.

Their poor play all season long has kept teams in games against the Vikings. I don't think I've seen a Vikings running back get hit behind the line of scrimmage as much as Peterson has this season. How McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson, and John Sullivan are anywhere near the top vote-getters for the Pro Bowl is mind boggling.

It's not Peterson's lack of production that's hurting this offense as much as it is the offensive line. Their play this season is a disgrace to Vikings football. Sullivan is not the answer and Hutchinson is having his worst season of his career. Loadholt and McKinnie are too big to get off the line in time to do any damage and Anthony Herrera is merely a place holder.

For this team to be successful, they need to do a better job of not only protecting Favre, but blocking for Peterson.

Do the lineman have the mindset that Peterson can gain five yards per carry and they only need to "show up"? Sorry, but a running back is only as good as his offensive lineman.

When Peterson gets into the open field, he's the hardest running back in the NFL to take down. The problem is, he rarely gets the opportunity.

Here's some advice offensive line: Watch how the Tennessee Titans block.

The Titans have the best offensive line in the game. There's no disputing this claim. Chris Johnson has massive holes to run through. If you don't believe me, just watch them play. The lineman pick up the blitzes and drive their opponents back with ease. All Johnson has to do is read and react while guys like Peterson read and get hit behind the line of scrimmage.

The offensive line needs help. Whether it's hiring a new offensive line coach or replacing the lineman, something has to be done.