The Vikings have plenty of quality veterans on the roster. But it’s a new player who caught the attention of offensive captain Kyle Rudolph during offseason workouts.
“I’d have to go with our rookie center,” Rudolph said. “Any time you draft a guy in the first round obviously there’s expectations for them to come in and contribute to your football team and help your team win. Garrett’s come in and he’s a phenomenal young guy. He’s really, really intelligent. But he’s a great athlete and he fits our scheme perfectly. Going up against guys like [defensive tackle] Linval Joseph is a pretty good barometer of how you’ll match up in this league and he’s more than held his own.”
That’s good news for a Vikings team that struggled last year due in large part to the struggles of its offensive line. The offensive line struggled in large part due to the sudden passing of offensive line coach Tony Sparano not long before training camp opened.
“It was an awful situation, and it was extremely difficult,” Rudolph said. “It hit a lot of people extremely closely on our team throughout that early part of August. I feel like Andrew Janocko, our assistant offensive line coach, Clancy Barone who was our tight ends coach and moved over to offensive line, they did an unbelievable job in an extremely tough circumstance. Anytime you have to shuffle around in early August, that doesn’t set you up for much success. We moved Todd Downing over to the tight ends room who was an assistant wide receivers coach and kind of an offensive advisor.
“None of us had worked together. We were all with different people in OTAs and minicamp and then the first day of training camp we show up and we’ve got a bunch of new coaches in new spots. Our coaching staff did an unbelievable job preparing us last year. Unfortunately, we did not go out on offense an execute. We weren’t very good on third down. We probably didn’t score as many touchdowns in the red zone as we probably should have. When you don’t do those two areas of football very well it’s not going to result to very many wins.”
Despite the adversity, the Vikings still went 8-7-1. With less adversity and a better offensive line in 2019, the Vikings could end up much better than that.