Lunchbreak: Vikings Among 4 Teams to Start 2018 Season 1-1-1

Heading into the 2018 season, on only 13 occasions has a team started a season 1-1-1 since the NFL merger in 1970.

After last weekend’s slate of contests, however, that number is 17.

Four teams are heading into Week 4 with a record of 1-1-1, including the Vikings and the division-rival Packers, who were defeated Sunday by the Redskins.

The Browns and Steelers, who finished their Week 1 matchup in a tie, also are 1-1-1.

Ryan Van Bibber of SB Nation wrote about the interesting way to start a season and assured fan bases – including Minnesota’s – that three teams on the unique list managed to make the Super Bowl, including the Steelers, who started the season with 1s across the board in 1974 and went on to win Super Bowl IX (against the Vikings). Van Bibber wrote:

The last time any team started the season with a 1-1-1 record was 31 years ago. The last ones to do it were the 1987 Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos, a season that gets an asterisk because the league used replacement players during a strike. The Broncos made the Super Bowl, losing to Washington.

The 1971 Dolphins started with that record, too. They lost the Super Bowl.

Only one other team to start with a 1-1-1 mark made the playoffs: the 1972 Raiders, who lost in the Divisional Round.

Van Bibber provided the list in its entirety via Pro Football Reference. This season marks the third time since 1970 that the Packers have started 1-1-1 and the first such start in Vikings history.

Coller assesses O-line options

Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff was a non-participant in Tuesday’s practice at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center before the Vikings headed to Los Angeles a day in advance of their matchup against the Rams.

The Vikings will hold a closed practice that is similar to a typical Saturday session on Wednesday at Loyola High School, the alma mater of linebacker Anthony Barr, and then release the final injury report of the week.

Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com asked the “what-if” question about Reiff and assessed Minnesota’s offensive line options if his foot injury keeps him sidelined during the Thursday Night Football game. Coller wrote:

Replacing Reiff for Thursday night’s game could be as simple as placing second-round pick Brian O’Neill into his spot and carrying on with the usual starters at every other position. That would mean playing Tom Compton at left guard, Pat Elflein at center ([Head Coach] Mike Zimmer announced he will start), Mike Remmers at right guard and Rashod Hill at right tackle.

Coller added, however, that it’s “hardly the only combination up front that’s possible,” pointing out that Hill stepped in for Reiff during training camp in 2017 and briefly last season. He said that Hill could move to left tackle and play O’Neill on the right side.

The Vikings could also push Mike Remmers back into a tackle role either on the left or right side. That would mean having Brett Jones or Danny Isidora start at right guard.

O’Neill has allowed five pressures in 73 pass blocking snaps in off-the-bench duty, per Pro Football Focus. Though Remmers was not credited with a single sack allowed last year at RT.

One major factor in the decision could be the strength of the Rams interior defensive line. Head Coach Sean McVay rightly dubbed defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh a “nightmare” for opposing offenses. It would make sense for the Vikings to keep Remmers inside to do battle with the monsters in the middle.

View travel images from Tuesday night as the Vikings flew to Los Angeles in advance of Thursday's game vs. the Rams.

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