Back in the golden age of blogs — pre-Twitter, about a decade ago, when the comments section was GOLD — a common format for a post was “look at this ridiculous thing someone wrote, and now I shall proceed to tear it apart.”
That sort of thing has diminished quite a bit as sites have moved toward more original content and their own TAKES. This blog, I suppose, is no different in that transition.
To post something now in a negative light about something someone else has written, it needs to meet a pretty high threshold.
And folks, this NFL.com piece has cleared that bar by a wide margin. This is Dick Fosbury flopping over a curb.
It was pointed out to me, by the way, by podcast listener Steven, who used his VERY FIRST TWEET OF 2018 to note it.
The headline: “Three effective lines poised for more success in 2018.” These are all offensive lines. The first two: Saints and Jaguars. I don’t have enough depth of knowledge of either team to debate that, but I’ll say sure, fine, OK.
The third of the three, though, is very much in my wheelhouse since I rant about it almost every week on the Access Vikings podcast (and did again this week, if you care to listen).
Maybe author Nick Shook is right and almost all the rest of us are wrong. But yes, he picked the Vikings’ O-line as one of his three improved lines poised for more success in 2018.
I wanted to place Tennessee in this position, but with a postseason knee injury keeping Jack Conklin sidelined, the Titans will have to wait for such recognition. In the meantime, we’ll look to a team that has undoubtedly earned this praise, even as it sorts out its starting five ahead of Week 1.
Usually a team worthy of undoubted praise has its line figured out with two weeks to go before the regular season, but continue:
Shook correctly says better line play was a huge key for the Vikings last year (agree!) He then declares the projected starting five of Riley Reiff, Tom Compton, Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers and Rashod Hill to be “not a bad group,” which is debatable but not far-fetched. Last year’s line, with Easton and Joe Berger at guard and Remmers at right tackle, was flat-out better.
But it’s conceivable this line could be fine IF Elflein is actually healthy (big if), if Compton is a serviceable replacement for Nick Easton (decent-sized if), if the Vikings don’t miss Berger as much as I think they will (good-sized if) and if the Remmers/Hill combo on the right side is really the best idea after Remmers was a pretty decent tackle last year and is now sliding to guard in order for Hill to play (medium-to-big-sized if). But other than questions on four-fifths of the line, things are good.
Where most Vikings fans are truly worried, though, is with depth. Berger is retired. Easton is injured. Elflein has been slow to return. Rookie second-round pick Brian O’Neill would ideally be getting what amounts to a redshirt year. But Shook is not shaken:
Minnesota’s true strength, though, lies in its depth, which has already been tested. Behind Hill at right tackle is rookie Brian O’Neill, and both guard positions have solid backups in the veteran Compton (now a starter) and second-year lineman Danny Isidora. Should the Vikings suffer an unfortunate injury — they did with the loss of Nick Easton to neck surgery, which necessitated the insertion of Compton at left guard — they have the luxury of a reliable veteran and promising youngster to replace them, which is key for a contender when the unexpected happens.
I agree it is key for a contender to have reliable backups. I’m far from convinced the Vikings are in that position.
The very last line is the one that I am worried is going to kill my good friend and original blog commenter @ChikenFingerz69. It reads:
Things are looking up, right through that transparent roof at U.S. Bank Stadium, with much thanks due to how GM Rick Spielman has built Minnesota’s offensive line.
Or, as I would say, “The biggest thing standing between the Vikings and a possible Super Bowl berth is their questionable offensive line depth.” To each their own.