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By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - If you've watched any of the Minnesota Vikings this season it's probably pretty clear that there are a handful of things that have gone amiss leading Minnesota to their 1-5 start. It hasn't just been the quarterback, it hasn't just been the defensive backs and it hasn't just been the coaching. But if it were possible to pull out the biggest problem for the Vikings this season, what would it be?
While the options may be plentiful, the answer should be pretty clear. I'm no mathematician but see if you can follow my logic here. You can't win football games unless you score points. You can't score points if you're not protected up front (run or pass). And most importantly you can't be protected up front if your offensive line as badly as the Minnesota Vikings' is.
You could argue that you also cannot win games if your defense cannot stop the opposition, but even with the porous secondary, when I look at the Vikings defense I see a team-efforted meltdown. You can't point your finger at one select group and fix it. On offense you can.
We've seen it first hand, if you can't protect the quarterback in the passing game passes are rushed, quarterbacks are sacked and the offense struggles. In the run game, even the best running back in the league cannot do it by his self. If the holes aren't there and the offensive line is getting blown up at the point of contact, Adrian has not chance.
So what's the deal? How has the best offensive line from one year ago completely jumped shark?
A year ago, the front five for the Minnesota Vikings consisted of Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt. That group of five started in 17 straight games and paved the way for one of the most historic seasons in NFL history (Adrian Peterson 2,097 yards).
Fast-forward to this season and your starting five consists of Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt.
"It's pretty much the same people," head coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday afternoon. "We're running a lot of the same plays, we're not as effective as we were a year ago up to this point."
Last year Adrian was able to average an amazing 131 yards per game. This year it's down to 85 yards a game and just 90 total yards over the past two games.
"We're not able to do certain things on the second level that would help to a degree," Frazier explained. "People are going to still approach us the same way when it comes to our offense. They're going to put a lot of people in the box to take away the run game. We've got to do some things to loosen him up a little bit and we haven't been able to do it on a consistent basis."
While the first movement is the responsibility o-line, looking specifically at the run game, it may be a two way street with the offensive line hitting their blocks and then Adrian hitting the hole.
"We have to get our offensive line to get more push up front," Frazier continued. "We always talk to Adrian about being true to his reads and take the holes where they are and not feel like he has to hit a home run on every play. We always talk about that. There were moments, not necessarily yesterday, but this season where he felt like he needed to break every run. I think we’re cleaner in that area now, but we need to get our offense line, tight ends and other backs to knock people off the ball and push back some."
So what comes next? You've got a rookie left tackle that is stuck in a sophomore slump, veteran left guard who is reaching the end, a formerly under appreciated center who has joined in the struggle, an over matched right guard and a right tackle who just got paid and may be resting on his laurels. Can you bench any of these men? Are there any better options lying in the weeds waiting for their opportunity to come? Not exactly.
"We're beginning to run out of games here so we've got to get it fixed in a hurry," Frazier stressed. "We can get fixed what the problems are. The guys are playing hard but we've got to get things fixed for sure. We've got the right people to get that done. Just some things we've got to get taken care of in a hurry."
So there you have it. The rest of the season can go one of two ways. Either this group can figure it out, or Frazier rides it out and the offensive line continues to struggle, jumping on board the sinking ship as it goes down with their captain.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN