J. Kapp 11 wrote:
I'm going to challenge you (and others) on this one.
Phil Loadholt -- not an All-Pro, but a solid tackle, especially in the running game. Spielman didn't cause his achilles to tear.
Matt Kalil -- considered to be easily the best O-lineman coming out of college when he was drafted, and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Spielman didn't cause him to suddenly go into suck mode, or to be constantly hurt, or to go on IR. And how many of us would KILL to have him at LT right now?
John Sullivan -- on the cusp of being an All-Pro until he hurt his back. Spielman didn't cause his back to go out, nor did he force Sullivan to lift weights before his back was ready.
Brandon Fusco -- among the top-rated guards on PFF a couple of years ago. Now he gets knocked on his a$$ every other play. Why has he descended into suckitude? I'm sure Spielman is as perplexed as anyone.
Joe Berger -- good enough to replace Sullivan, but now he's hurt.
Alex Boone -- after a slow start, he's been solid, but even he has missed time due to injury.
Andre Smith -- we can argue whether he was any good, but the fact remains that he was a high draft choice and gave us at least a chance of being average at RT -- until he got hurt and went on IR.
Mike Harris -- Widely regarded as one of our top O-linemen last year. Where is he now? He's like Jimmy Hoffa -- has disappeared without a trace. Rick's fault?
Has O-line been a priority in the early draft rounds for Spielman. No. But not every team builds a line that way. The Vikings have gone the "draft low and develop" route. As I've said many times, it may not be the way we think he ought to build an O-line, but it's what he's chosen to do, and there's precedent for it. He's far from the only GM to go this route. And we can sit here and go "Dallas Cowboys" all we want, but the Cowboys haven't won squat for years, and until they do, there's no reason to make their "draft the entire line in the first round" the model. Their defense is not terribly good, and I believe they will get exposed in the playoffs.
Here's the other truth ... we are 6-5, having played with a line that has had 10 or 11 different combinations due to injury. I honestly believe that if our opening day line had been able to stay together, we might very well be 8-3 or better right now. Continuity is everything with an O-line, and we've had none. I believe there has only been one instance this entire season where the same 5 guys were together for 2 games in a row -- we won the second of those two games against the Cardinals.
We all like to say, "Can't make injuries an excuse." That's a nice buzz phrase, but the truth is that talent wins in this league, and virtually every O-lineman close to having real talent is on the shelf. When you're trotting out Willie Beavers at RT and T.J. Clemmings at LT, it's a miracle this team even had a chance to win on the road.
Obviously something's got to be done for next season. But I doubt you'll ever see another year like this for injuries to one unit of a Vikings football team. It's been brutal.
Okay, let's see...
Loadholt, has been injured recently and at 6'8 340, players don't last very long. He had a productive career but signs of injury were apparent. Was actually surprised that they resigned him and that he thought he could come back and play.
Kalil has been regressing every year and never had another LT to compete. Knee surgeries had become an annual occurrence. Signs had pointed to a very short injury plagued career for quite some time now. Would I have drafted him when he came out, probably so. We had a need and he was prototype and seemingly ready to plug and play.
Sullivan also was returning from multiple injuries. True about the weightlifting, but that's like telling a fat guy to stop eating... Not going to happen! Back injuries ruin football careers, ALWAYS! A good friend of mine was a 2nd rd OL that had his career ended by back injuries much to soon. Once they start, they don't go away.
Fusco, surprising to me how poorly his play has been since his first couple of years. Just been very dissappointing his last few years... I had always thought that we had found a gem, but he gets manhandled now and has for a few years.
Berger, tough to count on a 34 year old to continually battle young bulls that are bigger and stronger than you. Remember, he had always been a career backup until Sullivan started getting hurt.
Boone I thought was a very good signing. He has just had so much inconsistency surrounding him. + for Ricky
Smith had been widely regarded as a bust prior to coming here. He's serviceable at best.
Harris ??? Know idea what the heck he's doing! I would never blame a GM on that unless they knew something prior, heck, I still don't even know what his deal is ?
Jake Long experiment was a desperation move and played out that way
I agree that Spielman cannot control injury, I also know that this OL has been decimmated like none I have ever seen before. The Vikings are doing exceptionally well considering the injuries they have had to overcome. There's a chance of even being 11-5. Albeit unlikely, but a chance. I really enjoy watching the team compete and have a real chance at winning every game. They're a few pieces away like I said. Those pieces are along the OL.
However, there were warning signs and Spielman hoped to survive this season. It didn't work. The fact that we have salary constraints is the GMs fault. In his position, he is to protect the shield, the Minnesota Vikings, more than he is the player. It's a tough job and you must have the right type of personality, and I think that he does that to a pretty good drum. However, not heading the warning signs and running oft injured OL out there is never a good idea. Could I have done a better job, probably not. I am in a similar position dealing with player personnel daily. You have to always develop the backups and you hope that they are ready to produce, not be completely overwhelmed.
Special OL are rare. However, not investing in them until 3rd rd picks and hoping to find hidden small school gems is never a good idea, IMO. Nearly 1/2 of the offensive players on the field on EVERY PLAY are OL !!!
Think about that for a minute.... 11 offensive players and always 5 OL on the field.
You gave me our best most prolific 7-8 OL and all of them, but Boone, had serious concerns coming into the season. You still had 80% of the most important unit to a teams success in limbo with health concerns, physical or mental. What happens next you hope doesn't, but the warning signs were there.