The latest edition of the Access Vikings podcast — at least a few minutes of it — is basically Part 17 of me yelling my concerns about the offensive line at fellow hosts Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer.
(Shameless plug: Download, listen and subscribe via iTunes.)
It was my first time back on the podcast after a two-week vacation, and in that time Mike Remmers and Rashod Hill injured their ankles while Nick Easton went on injured reserve.
Pat Elflein, who said in early June that everything was on track for him to be ready for the start of training camp, is still on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Joe Berger is still retired.
Those are five guys who played key roles for the Vikings last season. Even in the best-case scenario, with Remmers (who is back at practice), Hill and Elflein ready to go in Week 1 against the 49ers, the line would look something like this: Riley Reiff (LT), Tom Compton (LG), Elflein (C), Remmers (RG) and Hill (RT).
That's a potentially adequate line, but it's a downgrade from the regular season last year, when Pro Football Focus says the Vikings were No. 12 in pass blocking and No. 10 in run blocking efficiency.
In the playoffs, as injuries mounted, the Vikings — albeit in a much smaller sample size — fell to dead last among the 12 postseason teams in pass blocking and No. 9 of 12 in run blocking efficiency.
This year, Pro Football Focus had the Vikings pegged as the 28th-ranked offensive line — and that was before Easton went on IR.
Not surprisingly, PFF also has the Eagles offensive line rated No. 1. Philadelphia had one of the best (if not the very best) lines a year ago, and it was a key reason the Eagles routed the Vikings 38-7 on the way to winning the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Falcons and Patriots two years ago had strong performances from their offensive lines on the way to their Super Bowl meeting. You don't have to have a great (or even good) offensive line to win it all, but it sure helps.
A Vikings offensive line that needed upgrading and depth did not get either to a satisfactory level this past offseason. Other positions were prioritized, and maybe those strengths will cancel out the line's potential weaknesses. Kirk Cousins is an upgrade at quarterback and leads an offense with as many talented skill position players as the Vikings have had in several years.
Rookie corner Mike Hughes looks like he's ready to play immediately, easing at least some of the grumbling that the Vikings should have used their No. 1 pick on an offensive lineman. They are loaded with offensive and defensive talent.
But a poor offensive line can undo a lot of progress, so the only question that really matters is this: Will the offensive line hold up this season?
That was the question four months ago, and we're not any closer to a an optimistic answer now than we were back then.