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What a difference a year makes: Mike Zimmer is raving about his team’s pass protection

Last season the Minnesota Vikings were forced to adjust offensively to make up for their inability to protect Sam Bradford. This year, the Vikings have allowed one sack in the past five games – and that was for a loss of one yard.

According to Pro Football Focus data, the Vikings allowed just five total pressures against Washington. With a clean pocket, quarterback Case Keenum completed 17-of-20 throws.

“I really like our offensive line,” head coach Mike Zimmer said Monday. “The way they’re playing together. They’re playing really tough and physical.”

Left tackle Riley Reiff still hasn’t allowed a sack this season and fill-in right tackle Rashod Hill gave up zero pressures in D.C. on Sunday.

Zimmer said keeping his QB out of trouble has also been driven by running backs Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray as well as offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s protection schemes.

“Jerick had a couple of nice blocks in there, Latavius did as well and we’re changing up protections and I think that has helped Case quite a bit, as far as if we end up seeing some blitzes and being able to change protections to different things,” Zimmer said.

Continuity up front has been a plus as well. Last season the Vikings were routinely swapping in different starters because of injuries or poor play. This year, rookie center Pat Elflein has played every snap, right guard Joe Berger has only missed two snaps and Reiff has played 97% of plays.

“The good thing is the communication has been very good,” Zimmer said. “When something happens whether it’s in the game or it’s in practice, they are able to communicate what went wrong pretty quickly so that’s been a good thing.”

The Vikings’ offensive line has also had a major impact on the running game, which ranks 10th in total yards.

“I think that they can get to the second level a lot better,” Zimmer said. “It helps when they can get off the double team or get to the second level and get to the linebacker, that’s how you can get some big runs.”

Minnesota’s next opponent – the Los Angeles Rams – will test their growth on the O-line. They are fifth in the NFL with 28 sacks.

  • Jordan Musser

    No offense to the big guys up front because they are playing their tails off but Keenums ability to move around back there helps a lot. I doubt we would be having the same conversation if Bradford had played the past 5 weeks.

    • Matthew Rowe

      We would be, the bar from last year is set awfully low.

    • Gordon Guffey

      Plus these guys or not longer the kind of big slow OL that Norv picked for his blocking scheme ~ Shurmur and Tony Sparano have done a outstanding job of picking the guys we now have on the roster ~ Some people like to blame Spielman for not being able to pick OL ~ However now that they have moved on from Norv’s blocking scheme the OL has been repaired in one offseason ~

      So I think Spielman and Zimmer should get credit for moving on from Norv and Scott Turner ~ Then for having the foresight to hire Shurmur knowing a showdown with Norv was coming ~ And for Shurmur who has allowed Tony Sparano coach the OL his way ~

      A lot went into improving the OL this offseason ~

      • Sean Moore

        100%

    • James Hardy

      100%

  • Gordon Guffey

    Talks about the OL as well ~

    Posted: 2 hours ago
    Zimmer on Keenum’s Play, Starting QB vs. Rams, More

    Head Coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media from Winter Park on Monday.

    http://www.vikings.com/media-vault/videos/Zimmer-on-Keenums-Play-Starting-QB-vs-Rams-More/9484e11e-f801-4ba9-8ba4-51e92851086c

  • Pete

    Wasn’t that one sack a butt sack by the center when Bradford fell down for a safety?

  • wdnemesis

    You know I watch every Vikings game. I have not once seen a complete breakdown on the O Line this year. They have not caught my attention this year which is a good thing. The backups when filling in have played nicely as well and I have not noticed a dip in performance. All these O Line guys deserve to be on this team in the future.

  • Gordon Guffey

    Vikings are ranked #10 and the OL has played a big part in this ~
    NFL Team Total Offense Statistics – 2017
    http://www.espn.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/total

  • Gordon Guffey

    I didn’t expect the OL to gel until mid season and they have by far out played my expectations ~ And they did it playing a backup right OT and a backup left OG for 2 or 3 games ~ This unit is clearly night and day better than last year ~ So is the blocking scheme ~ If you cant look at the sack stats and the rushing stats and see this your either not watching the games or your not a Viking fans ~





vikings

Previous Story Zulgad: Will it be Case or Teddy? Mike Zimmer will keep us guessing as long as possible Next Story Film review: Skill and scheme both responsible for Vikings’ successful passing attack