EAGAN, Minn. – It took a few weeks, but the Vikings offensive line is playing like one of the best units in football.
The Athletic's Vikings beat writer Alec Lewis broke down how Minnesota's front five is playing through five weeks.
Pro Football Focus ranks the Vikings as the second-best pass-blocking unit in the NFL and the premier run-blocking unit. If those rankings seem too rosy, ESPN ranks the Vikings in the top 10 in its pass-blocking and run-blocking win rate metrics.
Lewis explained why the Vikings struggled versus the defensive lines of Tampa Bay and Philadelphia to start the season.
It's relevant to point out that Minnesota faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Eagles in the season's first two weeks. Both teams have formidable defensive fronts, and the Bucs defensive scheme is designed to limit the run.
Making progress, multiple Vikings offensive linemen have said, was more about more physicality and better technique than anything else.
The results changed quickly. In Minnesota's first two games, it averaged 0.65 yards before contact, which ranked 29th in the NFL. Meanwhile, in the past three weeks, the team has averaged 2.43 yards before contact, third in the league.
The Vikings are using multiple tight ends to open running lanes as well. Lewis highlighted plays against the Chargers and Panthers that showed how Head Coach Kevin O'Connell is scheming up runs.
Lewis' complete film review can be read here.
An offense without Justin Jefferson
The Vikings are preparing to play without Justin Jefferson for the first time since 2019. Back then, the star receiver was still breaking records and winning a CFP National Championship at LSU with Tigers teammates Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase.
Star Tribune writer Ben Goessling explained what the Vikings offense may look like without the All-Pro receiver.
The Vikings will try to reconfigure their offense without Jefferson, who has accounted for 26.2% of their targets this season and has 35.7% of the team's targeted air yards, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. First-round pick Jordan Addison, who was limited with an ankle injury on Wednesday, will play a larger role alongside [T.J.] Hockenson and K.J. Osborn, and the Vikings could involve running backs Alexander Mattison and Cam Akers in the passing game to a greater degree.
The Vikings also could see teams approach them differently without Jefferson there to draw double teams. O'Connell said the Vikings could notice the biggest change on third downs and red-zone plays, where teams have been most likely to use true double teams against Jefferson.
Click here to read the rest of Goessling's analysis.