Brian O'Neill chuckled when asked the main reason why the Vikings offense limited sacks on Kirk Cousins to one or none in five of the team's first eight games. Another offseason of reinforcements led to two new starters, but a balanced playbook that moved Cousins out of the pocket was key.

"I'm really appreciative of [coaches]," he said. "They're not just going to make us sit back there and catch somebody 75 times a game or let them tee off, you know? They're putting us in great spots."

While the talent gap remains large between the Vikings offensive line and the NFC's best defensive lines, evident in losses to the 49ers, Packers and Bears, the latest playbook shift proved a workable foundation. Now comes another offseason of mock drafts projecting Day 1 or Day 2 picks in the trenches.

On the blog we assess next year's outlook and give 2019 grades for the Vikings offensive line that cut sacks from 40 to 28 and opened lanes for a sixth-ranked run game.