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Additional Minnesota Viking Commentary

Offensive Line: Isodora  
It is quite clear that Pat Elflein is the glue that holds this whole thing together.
Bud Grant understood the undeniable importance of this position, where last year we were forced into the playoffs with one sledge hammer tied behind our backs.  Don't get me wrong in that Berger provided more than a reliable option as he performed at a very high level at center but we had to remove him as a solid piece at right guard to become our new field general in the center.  Add that to the our other losses that included Easton and what was left standing there was a depleted corps vying for the NFL's greatest prize.  We need to do better and to do so ... we need to proactively realize potential.   

With Elflein on the mend, we had no choice but to find Berger's position flexibility to fill the role at center.  The result was to trade a 7th round pick to the New York Giants for Brent Jones.  Overall I was not overly impressed with his play as he appeared to be man-handled at times but we had little choice as we were buying time as well as position experience to protect the asset known as Cousins.   We can thank our lucky stars that it didn't manifest into another event of the magnitude inflicted upon us like Bradford/Bridgewater which ended up added vital pieces to Philadelphia's crew.   

Now we find ourselves at that juncture in regard to that impressive asset also known as Kirk Cousins.  Not only did he join our organization to take on its primary leadership role ... he has also brought along some goodies with him.  The first major item, of course, is our back up plan starting at left guard Tom Compton due to the injury to Easton.  The second, which has blown my doors off, is known to us by #17 Aldrick Robinson (maybe it's time to introduce him to the Purple Nation & America).  To be direct, in regard to Tom Compton, for Kirk Cousins, he was a known commodity that has clearly had a history of providing our quarterback with a blanket of security.  However one question still remains ... is Tom Compton our best option in regard to the starting five in those nasty trenches?    

Now let's look at this another way.  In Kirk Cousins eyes, he might be openly stating that Tom Compton is my guy (end of discussion) but this is the NFL.  That group of five also includes his tight ends & blocking backs that provides his overall umbrella.  To be direct, what we've witnessed up to and including our first seven regular season games has been alarming, if not distressing.  Of course you could say that Kirk Cousins "alarming-hurries-stat", as well as the brutal punishment that he's been exposed to this year, has been due to Kirk Cousins holding onto the ball too long ... but this stat alone is beyond the pail.  When you hear Kirk Cousins describes the aftermath of each game as somewhat equivalent to being in a car accident ... the red flags start rising in earnest.  The follow up question to this statement should have been, "Is this new or has it been every week playing quarterback in the NFL?" ... but we'll never know as a lid will certainly drop on this one.  Now to put Kirk's statement into perspective, this is not to brag (knock on wood), but I've been in several car incidents being very fortunate in each case, but nothing that I've experienced can ever compare to taking an NFL hit.  Sure Kirk Cousins is not talking about tangling with a fully loaded 18 wheeler but he's also not talking about a simple fender bender either.  Maybe it's time for the big Chief to step in & take the reigns as there just might be a better option as we all know a dual dimension will always trump a one-dimensional offense.        
Which gets us back to our offensive line evaluation that once again is screaming in my ears.  Last year we brought in free agents of Riley Reiff at Left tackle and Mike Remmers at Right Tackle.  Reiff has been stalwart, where he may not be the best left tackle in the league but he most certainly has been doing very well, holding his own.  That is, right up to the point that we faced the Buffalo Bills.  The cause of course being his foot injury, that now has had two weeks to heal.  In short, what we need is a healthy Riley Reiff & if we need to wait for that to happen ... so be it.  He's just too important a piece to have when the chips are down.  

One of the best moves I've seen this organization make ever was in moving Mike Remmers to Right Guard.  To be direct, an ego would have prevented this move in the past, but planting Mike there with occasional watering just might make him & this organization the happiest bunch of cogs ever known to man.  At times at Right Tackle he appeared to be out of his element but at right guard, what we see is steady improvement on the right side of that line.  Each game day he's gaining more & more experience & he's melding more & more with that group of knuckleheads.  It's as if Mike was an NFL quarterback being moved to safety.  In time he will look like he's accelerating where that safety somehow knows exactly what the opposing quarterback will be doing.  Now that's line play & you've just broken the seal on Brian O'Niel.  Why did it take us so long to understand the principals of all that potential energy? 

Which brings us to November 15, 2016 when Rick Spielman pulled the trigger freeing Rashod Hill from the Jacksonville's practice squad.  Remembering that first start at tackle there was a comment thrown out there, "Who the heck is this guy?"  Something brought me to blurt out ... "You watch ... this guy just might end up starting for this team for the next 10 years."  So, should Rashod Hill be a Minnesota Vikings opening day roster starting left of right tackle ... well the answer to that question is most likely no, but just take a look at the number of starts & relief appearances that this dude has handled on both the right & left side.  It is clear to see his value to this franchise & we have been very fortunate indeed to have found him.  Up to the moment he joined this franchise, our offensive line couldn't protect anybody ... then something wonderful happened ... we actually had found a real life offensive tackle.  It's not Rashod Hill's fault that the "big guy" didn't give him a #1 draft pick's athletic body & skills set but is our fortune that he was blessed with the heart of a Viking ... maybe the best compliment you can give anyone.

So where is this going?  Well things happen for a reason.  Was it just happenstance that the left side of our offensive line is no longer protecting Kirk Cousins with both Riley Reiff & Tom Compton dealing with injuries?  Is it just a coincidence that Brian O'Niel has been thrust into the fires of holding down right tackle?  Well if you answered no to any of these questions ... then you'd be right.  For some unknown reason, we have always formulated our game time battle plans, using concepts similar to the generals of history ... which are later accused of fighting their wars & battles ... using obsolete ideas & concepts.  What results are massive & unforeseen losses due to fighting these battles upon new battlegrounds where the battle plan gets based upon events that should have been left in the past.  In regard to this franchise, it has a nasty habit of ignoring its full potential ... especially in regard to its untested or unrealized athletes.  Sure experience is important but it should never trump untapped potential as game time experience may have been granted ... as there was, simply stated, "No other option".  Thus is the reason that Game 1 of the season is only a building block of that season whereas the most important game of the year is known as the Super Bowl.  Said another way, "Only a moron would try to unleash an athletes potential in the biggest game of the year".  Maybe the most important quote for this franchise might be, "The only obstacle to seeing reality is entitlement!"  

For example, Aldrick Robinson may be the worst practice player in the league, or he might have an have an issue like Cordarrelle Patterson (who is now tearing up the league for the Boston Patriots), but the only thing that matters is what he brings to the game when the chips are down.  It's not like we gave up a 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 7th round draft picks for Cordarrelle, to the Patriarch's, to now play for the beaners.  How shrewd a deal was that?  On the other hand, seeing only limited action, Aldrick is now the owner of three (3) NFL touchdowns for this franchise.  Simply stated, it is the realization of that potential energy that is at issue.    

So where does Danny Isidora fit into this mix?  Well that question was once again answered last week.  Tom Compton is a well know commodity where there was a reason he was plucked from the streets.  Isidora, on the other hand, has undeveloped potential.  In regard to experience, he is still just a pup but what might be behind that curtain just might be more than you have ever expected.  Now for one moment consider Nick Easton who had his opportunity to show us his stuff.  Now combine that with an injury anywhere along Easton's spine & it is once again like having the unknowns attributed with Teddy Bridgewater's leg.  Sure, we loved what both Teddy & Nick Easton could bring to us from the potential-side of things ... but it will come with very big question marks.  Either way, it's time to consider what we are in fact seeing.
Would it be a bad idea to start Tom Compton at anything less than 100%?  Yes, it would, especially knowing that there may be a major unexplored upside to Danny Isidora that just might be the difference maker in 2018.  Now for a moment consider what happened in Philadelphia in 2017 after they had lost their all-world left tackle to a season ending knee injury.  The result was some of the best offensive line play that I've seen in a very long time.  If a player like Riley Reiff can be moved out of left tackle in Detroit ... anything can happen in the NFL but there is one undeniable fact.  Isidora has been showing gifted flashes, especially in the run game, with resultant numbers that just cannot be denied.  Sure, he has lapses needing to polish his facets, & he's far from perfect, but the learning curve & the potential realized cannot be obtained from riding the pine.  After all, the issue is to stabilize that left side, and protect the long term interests in Riley Reiff ... by taking the one-dimensional stress off of him.
Isn't it odd that the Viking Nation is sick over the prospects in regard to our offensive line.  This of course is due to our impatient lust ... after all it's been 57 years in waiting.  All the pieces are there, that is, assuming that Flip takes the bait.  Just consider for a moment of not only having to put "The Leash of Discipline" upon Kirk Cousins, for the greater good, but in also having to have the self discipline over himself (Flip).  All a golfer ever wanted was a smooth self controlled swing ... taking all that tense effort out the equation ... to see that ball role on the short grass.  Sometimes the thought of taking one of Harrison Smiths vicious hits seems reasonable than having to deal with our greatest fears but I can tell Flip one thing for certain ... if you lost your job tomorrow for taking a leap of faith ... you'd have ten people picking up their phone wanting to talk to you about another.        

The word discipline has been much maligned in that it's meaning is thought to impart pain & fear into the process.  Well, Kirk Cousins has had more that enough of that.  What discipline actually means, in reference to anyone, is to have absolute control over your mind, body & soul.  It doesn't matter who you are ... we all need more of that.  

Everson ... it's nice to have you back ... and don't sweat the pitch count, as in sex ...  slow & easy is a whole lot better than none.    

The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: October 24, 2018