When Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan went down for the year in the preseason, there was a lot of concern about how it would impact the Vikings’ 2015 season. After all, as the most vested veteran player along the offensive line, Sully was viewed by all of his teammates as an unquestioned team leader and losing him would be a significant blow to the offense as a whole and the offensive line specifically.
However, according to Pro Football Focus, Sullivan’s replacement, Joe Berger, has been the most underrated player in the NFL this season.
According PFF’s rankings, Berger is tied with Dallas Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick for the top spot among NFL centers. Through the first 13 games, Berger has allowed just one sack and 12 total pressures, according to the site’s analysis, which is saying something considering that the Vikings lead the league in seven-step drops and Teddy Bridgewater is measured as holding onto the ball longer than any quarterback in the league other than Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor.
“Few interior players have as a tough a time schematically as Berger does and yet he has performed well as a pass blocker and even better in the run game,” PFF wrote.
Peterson is averaging just 2.7 yards a carry between the guards and tackles, but, when running in between the guards and Berger, he is averaging 4.8 yards a carry – better than his overall season average.
“In a league where offensive linemen don’t get the same kind of recognition as ‘skill position’ players, even those that do are often more figureheads of dominant teams or offense, rather than true individual standouts,” PFF reported. “It is very rare that a team can replace one injured Pro Bowl/All-Pro caliber player with another, but that is precisely what the Vikings have been able to do in going from Sullivan to Berger and may even have found a slight upgrade. Berger is on pace to eclipse the grade Sullivan has posted since his PFF All-Pro season of 2012 and should be firmly in the Pro Bowl discussion.”
For a player who was viewed as a swingman who could save the Vikings a roster spot because of his ability to play all three interior line positions, while he isn’t getting a lot of praise from the national media, not only is Berger holding up his end of the bargain, he is excelling at his position under the criteria in which PFF uses to rank offensive linemen.
- With the New York Giants winning Monday night at Miami, the Dec. 27 game between the Vikings and Giants at TCF Bank Stadium has officially been moved to the Sunday night telecast.
- On Monday, the Vikings announced a roster move, re-signing defensive end Justin Trattou and releasing safety Shaun Prater. The Vikings signed Prater off the street last week, but due to injuries at the safety position, also elevated safety Anthony Harris from the practice squad. That move required a cut from the 53-man active roster, which turned out to be Trattou.