The Vikings finally got their guy. After much pre-draft speculation and one draft-day trade, Matt Kalil will be the team’s new starting left tackle. Without a doubt, Kalil fills a glaring area of need for the Vikings. His presence at left tackle will also help them fill their opening at left guard, as former tackle Charlie Johnson will now move inside next to Kalil. Just how bad did it get last year? Here’s a look at some advanced stats from two different websites that specialize in analyzing NFL games on a snap-by-snap basis, ProFootballFocus.com (PFF) and FootballOutsiders.com (FO).
According to PFF, Johnson was one of the most overmatched left tackles in the NFL last year. Only three other left tackles who played more than 10 games graded out worse than Johnson. Six other left tackles managed to allow more than the eight sacks attributed to Johnson by PFF, but only one (Arizona’s Levi Brown) allowed more than the combined total of 49 sacks, quarterback hits, and quarterback pressures surrendered by Johnson. (On a side note, for those of you still lamenting the loss of Bryant McKinnie to the Ravens last year, McKinnie graded out only two spots higher than Johnson. He was awful last year as well).
As you would expect, Johnson’s inability to keep pressure off of the Vikings’ quarterbacks affected their performance in a negative way. According to PFF, Christian Ponder was “under pressure” on 35% of his dropbacks. To put that into perspective, Matthew Stafford faced pressure on just 24% of his pass attempts.
In such pressure situations, Ponder struggled badly. While under pressure, Ponder completed just 35.4% of his passes, and had a quarterback rating of 36.4. In non-pressure situations, he connected on 61.3% of his attempts and played to a quarterback rating of 82.7.
Football Outsiders, also using detailed game-charting data from every NFL play, also ranked the Vikings offensive line at or near the bottom of the NFL. According to FO, the Vikings ranked dead last in the NFL in pass protection. FO also graded the Vikings very poorly on runs to the left side – particularly runs over left end (i.e. to the outside of the left tackle). On such runs, the Vikings gained just 3.25 “adjusted line yards” per play, which ranked 28th in the league.
It remains to be seen whether Kalil can single-handedly fix all of thse problems, but there is absolutely no doubt that the Vikings needed him badly.
Follow Christian on Twitter: @CP_ChristianP