Every week following the Access Vikings Gameday Preview podcast we'll delve deeper into the player Andrew Krammer pegged as a potential difference maker for the upcoming game.
Until recently, Jeremiah Sirles never really had a chance to get going in the NFL.
Sirles, the third-year undrafted tackle out of Nebraska, arrived in Minnesota via trade last year and didn’t see any game action until Alex Boone injured his hip last month. He’d nearly double his career snap total (112) over the next two games, filling in at both left guard and right tackle. He played well enough to earn a starting look and was elevated anyway after Andre Smith’s season-ending triceps injury.
There have been speed bumps, including last week in Philadelphia where the Eagles knocked the ball out of Sam Bradford’s hand four times, including twice from Sirles’ side. Though the problem was much greater. Bradford was hit 18 times in all with 11.5 coming from defenders blocked by the Vikings’ tackle rotation. At times in Philly, Sirles was bumped to the bench with T.J. Clemmings moved to right tackle for 13 snaps.Clemmings’ play was worse on the right side, Mike Zimmer said this week, so it’s possible Sirles starts and stays there in a future rotation.
And the Vikings need Sirles’ best on Monday night in Chicago, where he faces a tough matchup in Bears edge rusher Willie Young. Young’s six sacks ranks sixth among all NFL players, while Sirles is just three weeks removed from helping to limit Jason Pierre-Paul to one quarterback hit.
Sirles (6-6, 315) has the size and the brain to play every position along the offensive line. He’s praised as a try-hard guy and the effort shows on game days. When he keeps his feet moving, he can ward off even JPP as he did during his first fill-in duty at right tackle in Week 4. Sirles (78) gets some inside help from Brandon Fusco (63) while keeping step for step with JPP’s outside rush.
But Sirles can play too rigid at times and a recent knee injury hasn’t helped. His play really slipped at the end in Philadelphia, when both of the strip-sacks he allowed came within a few plays of each other in the fourth quarter. On the play below, Sirles stops his feet and bends forward, surrenderinga quick path to Bradford.