3 Keys To Vikings Improvement Along Offensive Line

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 11, 2012 – 11:02 am

In taking a closer look at the Redskins running attack earlier on Thursday, we referenced the camaraderie generated from playing the same five starters in all five games as one factor that’s led to production. In taking a look at the Vikings offense through five games, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier and QB Christian Ponder have similar sentiments about their front line.

“The offensive line is playing tremendously well,” Ponder said on Wednesday. “You can tell the chemistry they have and the amount of communication they have on the line. They’re doing such a great job and they’re really gelling together, not even just the pass protection, they’re opening up holes in the run game. They couldn’t be playing any better.”

Frazier mentioned communication as a key to the line’s play as well while speaking with reporters on Wednesday.

“I see them at practice, in between, talking to one another about how we have to combo block, what we have to do from a technique standpoint,” Frazier said. “It’s a good chemistry on our offensive line right now and it’s showing up on the field.”

This type of play from the offensive line is refreshing to the Vikings and to those who’ve followed the Vikings in recent seasons. Individuals have played well at various times, but it’s been a couple of seasons since the Vikings offensive line played this well collectively. There are likely several factors behind the improvement. Let’s take a look at three of them.

1. Coach Davidson
There’s no better place to start than with Vikings OL coach Jeff Davidson. This is his second year on the job, and the veteran coach with multiple Super Bowl rings and NFL playing experience to his credit is starting to see results. It’s often said that a head coach or even defensive/offensive coordinator needs time to incorporate his scheme. A new position coach faces a similar challenge working with his subset of players, and therefore it’s fair to grant that position coach time as well. Davidson has put plenty of time in, and it’s beginning to pay off.

2. Buying the right groceries
If Davidson is the chef concocting the recipe for success along the offensive line, Vikings GM Rick Spielman and his personnel staff are responsible for buying the groceries from which Davidson creates the recipe. You may hate the analogy, but the point remains that Spielman has punched the right buttons when it comes to personnel decisions along the offensive line.

John Sullivan, whom Spielman selected with a 6th-round pick in 2008, has turned into one of the best centers in the NFL. Phil Loadholt, a 2nd-round pick in 2009, has taken a big step forward in 2012 and is in a contract year. The Vikings saw something they liked in Brandon Fusco, a 6th-round pick in 2011, and their decision to award him a starting job after training camp has turned into the right one. And you can’t talk about draft picks along the offensive line without mentioning Matt Kalil, the Vikings 4th overall pick this past April. He’s dominated the opposition at LT so far this season and looks every bit the part of a 4th overall choice. The selection of Kalil allowed the Vikings to move Charlie Johnson, last year’s LT, to his more natural position – guard.

3. You win with players
It’s only fair to credit coaching and personnel decisions when credit is due, so the first two points remain applicable. But the bottom line is that players have to go out and do their jobs. And that is what’s happening for the Vikings along the offensive line, through the first five games. There’s a lot of season to play, and the players will be the first to admit there are improvements to be made, but so far their ability to communicate and play well together has made a big difference for the Vikings offense.

“I like how they’re working together collectively,” Frazier said. “That is what you need as a unit to be effective on an offensive line and those guys are helping one another. I can see Matt [Kalil] working with Charlie [Johnson] and Charlie helping him. Then I see what John [Sullivan] is doing with Brandon [Fusco],who’s a young guy who is early in his career and helping him. And then Phil [Loadholt] is much more consistent. So each guy playing a little bit better and what it has created is a solid offensive line.”

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41 Responses to “3 Keys To Vikings Improvement Along Offensive Line”

  1. By Spencer on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Why does the line open up better holes for Toby than AP?

  2. By Matt on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    I think the line opens more holes for Toby because defenses play differently when he’s in the game instead of Petersen…wouldn’t you?

  3. By OTKalil2012 on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    That is a GOOD question Spencer !!!…

    One thing stands out to me between AP and Toby…

    AP is NOT a patient runner…

    Toby allows time for his O-line to make holes for him to run through…

    AP wants to get to the line as fast as he can..And break his own holes open if necessary…

    If AP would slow down his approach to getting the hand off from Ponder…He would get a lot more yards per carry and bigger holes to run through…

    But AP does not have the patience to do that…

    Toby feeds off of O-line play…And the O-line doing their jobs…

    But that is only this fans opinion… : /

  4. By dakotakid59 on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Davidson seems toknow what he’s doing were most NFL games are often won or lost in the trnnches on the line of scrimadge offensive & deffensive.

  5. By Muskyfever on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    OTK, I would agree with you to an extent, but I think what Matt said is more accurate… In this fans opinion. you are correct that Toby lets the Oline do A lot more of the work than AP does, but I also think that is becuase Toby knows he is not as physically gifted as AP is. If Toby tried to do what AP does, he would get stuffed for loses more often then not. AP still gets yards more often then not.. Making him the Obvious choice when it comes to talent on the field.

    And yes, what Matt said is huge. Because AP has the ability to go East and West as well as North and South they have to play the line of scrimage a little differently then they do with Toby who is strictly a North South kind of guy. The opposing D is always going to play both Toby and AP differently.

  6. By Bishop on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    I also doubt that Toby faces nearly as many 8 man fronts as AP does.

  7. By H.M.G. on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    By Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus on Oct 10, 2012 | Reply

    Who is Impy?

    Impy because I did not feel like writing Emperor Titus. Was not meant as a insult.
    Seattle does have a good D. I mean 7 sacks in a half even against a bad OLine is impressive. But the offense needs a little more. It will be a good game.
    While the Bucs are a wild card. With Gerald McCoy not being hurt he has been able to become who is suppose to be coming out of college. Their D is getting better.

  8. By BlueBird7 on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    On the Peterson/Toby thing. I would be much bettter for both of them if Frazier has the Runners a bit closer to the QB on the handoff.

    It appears the backs are 5 to 7 yards from QB. Most of what I see is Ponder sticking the ball out, waiting for Pete or Toby to take it from his hand.

    Sometimes I wait to see if an opposing LB will take the handoff instead.

  9. By H.M.G. on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Maybe the Vikings finish with the same record as last year but in reverse.

  10. By Muskyfever on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    HMG. That would be f u c k i n g awesome!

  11. By RichardA1 on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply


  12. By RichardA1 on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Williams, don’t forget about the man, he’s been the man on D for along time, watch for him to lift our defense up a notch to superstardom!!

  13. By RichardA1 on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    I got it!!! I got it!!!……the steelers got terribl towels,,,,,,,,,ok check it out!!!. a Jared Allen Whip Towel, c’mon, its awesome!!! a towel with a whip on it!!! we can crack in the stands,,,,its catchin….like a wild fire,,,cmon,,,,,,,whip towel whip towel!!!

  14. By RichardA1 on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Or, Berzerk Towel! when we want them to go Berzerk!!

  15. By Spencer on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Over/under 8 interceptions for the defense this year.

    I say under.

  16. By H.M.G. on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    People may get over zealous with it and crack another person.
    Or someone mouths off and the mouthing off party gets whipped
    Both would be bad for the Vikings organization..

  17. By H.M.G. on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Smith will get 3-4.
    Robinson will get 2 more.
    Cook will get his 1st.
    Winfield will get another 2.
    So at the end of the season at least 10.

  18. By RichardA1 on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Or Jared Allen Rope Towel! or Berzerk Towel!!! Viking fever is spreading!!!

  19. By Muskyfever on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    I think the whip towels are a great idea… At least until the home game against the Fusge Packers and I am sitting next to one of them… Cause…. uhhhh…. Im goingt to jail that day…

  20. By Muskyfever on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    I meant fudge packers

  21. By Muskyfever on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Yeah I am going to say about 10 or 12 INT’s on the season

  22. By 4eversteve on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    I have admit, that after last season I was questioning the decision to hire Jeff Davidson. However he seems to have inspired this O-line and have them playing much better as a group and considering that the infusion of youth at LT and RG in Kalil and Fusco that amazing job. I really like what I see in the aggressiveness in both the run and pass blocking from this O-Line and feel that they match up well and can can hold there own against any team in the NFL right now. GO VIKINGS!

  23. By Foreman44 on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Our OL, as new as it is, is giving Ponder some decent protection, giving up 9 QB sacks and 19 QB hits. Detroit’s OL stats are identical. Now for the great news..Chicago’s OL has given up 14 sacks with 28 hits on their QB and the Quackers’s OL has given up 21 sacks and 29 hits on their QB. Stafford is banged up already and at this rate I can’t see how either Cutler or Rodgers can stay healthy. Looks good for the Vikes..let’s hope it stays that way.

  24. By Viking33 on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Cutler and Rodgers will be the test. As good as our line is, when we replace Johnson and Loadholt we should be stellar.

    I hope Simpson works out and can take some pressure off the line of scrimmage and help AP and Harvin out some. That would be pretty awesome.

    It is fun and exciting watching these guys come together as a team.

  25. By vikes or die on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Send your love out to Griffen for the loss of his mother. There is nothing worse in life but death. Loosing mom is the pretty much the worst. Be strong Griff!!! And make your mom, family, friends and the Viking nations proud!!!!!!!!!. God speed and carry the touch baby!!!!

  26. By vikes or die on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Torch not touch. But I must say “touch”! Has a nice ring to it. Ha, any how, we love you for real. God speed, and may you allow his spirit to move greatly.
    Forever, Fans that care.

  27. By vikes or die on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    The O-Line is starting to get the case of the nasty! And I Love it!!!! Now do yourselves a favor and play like wounded dogs and you will take the fight!!!!

  28. By vikes or die on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Ya know its funny, ( Sorry but i have been drinking a bit), When I think of a wounded dog, it’s fisious, sharp, instinctive, and going forward for the kill.

  29. By dannyboy on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Where does the Oline rank in sacks allowed compared to the rest of the teams?

  30. By vikes or die on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Not sure dannyboy, but what thing is for certain! It’s a vast improvement over last year. Poner had his ass handed to him on many different occasions.

  31. By vikes or die on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    This team of ours reeks of excitement. A jubalee of sorts if you will. Does anyone agree?

  32. By VikesShield on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    i hope everson griffen still plays sunday hes beasting this year

  33. By Spencer on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Let Webb get a series.

  34. By Woodboat on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Give it a rest, Spencer. We don’t need another Ponder/Webb border war… Christian is our starter and that’s the end of it. There might be other fans of other teams belly aching about their QBs and wanting a switch, but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to see Ponder on the bench right now. Ridiculous.

  35. By Spencer on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Webb was able to succeed with limited talent.

  36. By Erik the Red on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    I’m going to have to agree with Woodboat. What the Vikings are doing is working, better not make it more complicated and possibly ruin whatever flow the Vikes coaches have going. Maybe it wouldn’t ruin anything, but I’m confident in Ponder at this point in time, which always feels fantastic. I got sick of Tarvaris Jackson’s inconsistency pretty quickly.

  37. By H.M.G. on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    its TCR@P. Get it right.

  38. By H.M.G. on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Wish Daunte Culpepper never would have torn his knee to swish cheese. The Vikings would have already won a Super Bowl or 3. Yes I am very serious.

  39. By MuskyFever on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    Without Moss, and Carter Culpepper was nothing…

  40. By Scott on Oct 12, 2012 | Reply

    Skol fellow Vikes, I see no reason that the Vikings going 7-3 or 8-2 at the break. After the break thou the schedule gets harder. Do I hear a 10-6 or 11-5 wild card =).
    The team we have now is really impressive, and that is with 6 rookies. Just think in a couple of years, they should become the most dominat team in the league.

  41. By jester skinster on Oct 13, 2012 | Reply

    Skins D is comin on….you watch, Minnesota will be the start of an improving D, we saw it thru 3 quarters in Atlanta. then Jones & Gonzalez made some simply mismatch catches. our Run D is lookin good. Jenkins, Cofield & Bowen startin to wreak havoc….one win vs Minnesota & season turns around….big time…..RGIII, your a beast & 1 man wrecking crew….so happy to have you. A Morris, aka steal of the draft, gonna bust one on Vikes….game on boyees….it’s our time….get it Skins!

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