Monday Morning Mailbag: How Will The New Offensive Staff Impact The Offensive Line?

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With the likely proposition of adding depth to the offensive line in the draft, how will the Vikings address the development of a line that is already bolstered with young talent after the unfortunate passing of Tony Sparano leaving a vacancy at that coaching position? Any additional coaching staff under the radar? 
-- Tim R.
Brainerd, MN

The additions to the offensive coaching staff have certainly not been under the radar. Adding Gary Kubiak as the assistant head coach and offensive advisor and then also adding Rick Dennison as the offensive line coach/run game coordinator are moves that have garnered plenty of attention and they are also moves that should help yield improved play (and perhaps a stylistic change) from the offensive line. In terms of an under the radar element to all of this, it’s actually a coaching staff retention that I would highlight. I’m excited that head coach Mike Zimmer will keep Andrew Janocko on staff as the assistant offensive line coach. Janocko stepped up last year following the passing of coach Sparano, and both his passion for the profession and his familiarity with the incumbent personnel will be an asset for the Vikings offense.

Might be wrong, but to me it looks like the Vikings are a zone blocking vs. man/drive blocking team. Will the type of run blocking scheme the Vikings employ be an influence on who the Vikings draft or pick up in free agency? Or does the talent level of a NFL offensive lineman allow him to assimilate to a new scheme?
-- Noel Hong
Bayfield, WI

Scheme fit is very important. The old adage of staying away from trying to fit a square peg into a round hole applies to the game of football, too. Perhaps a player acquired via the draft is a bit more capable of becoming productive despite a lack of scheme fit than is a veteran signed in free agency, but that is a case-by-case type of thing. With all of that said, scheme fit is not the be-all, end-all of player evaluation. Many scouts or coaches likely have scheme fit as a high priority when it comes to evaluation, but traits such as competitive integrity and overall athleticism can be just as important.

I am concerned that with all the coaching hires on offense, there will be too many chefs in the kitchen. The Vikings could end up with a messy stew instead of filet mignon. Your thoughts?
-- Howard Lavick
Medford, OR

I don’t share those concerns, and the main reason is the timing of the changes. These changes, specifically the additions of Gary and Klint Kubiak, happened at the onset of the offseason. This will give offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski ample time to blend his own ideas with the ideas of his staff. The result will be a vision and plan that is the product of collaboration, which means everyone on the staff will be bought in and will be working on the same foundation and within the same parameters. Essentially, Gary Kubiak wasn’t brought into the fold to help run the Stefanski offense. Rather, Stefanski and Kubiak, with the help of the rest of the offensive staff, will develop a Vikings offense and everyone will be on the same page as they implement and teach that offense to the players.

The Super Bowl win for the Patriots proved again that the game is won or lost in the trenches, and that a strong-willed quarterback is essential for winning. Another is hunger. After all their success, the Patriots remain a hungry team. I am hoping that the team I have supported since 1961 (The Purple) will address their offensive line needs in the draft to protect Kirk Cousins and become a hungry team like the remarkable Patriots.
-- Joe Warner
South Dakota

I am with you, Joe. Another thing this year’s Super Bowl reminded us of is that defense still very much matters in this League. It was only a couple months ago when the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams met on a Monday Night Football game and combined to score 105 points. All the talk at that point was how the pro game was changing and that winning with defense was becoming an extinct proposition. Well, the Patriots went out and beat the Chiefs in the AFC title game – while holding them to just seven points in the first three quarters – and then beat the Rams in the Super Bowl – while holding them to three points for the whole game.

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