Tony Sparano brings ‘an attitude’ to Minnesota Vikings OL

The combination of Tony Sparano and Alex Boone brings a different level of intensity to the offensive line.

Of all the positions that took criticism for the Minnesota Vikings last year, the offensive line came under fire most consistently.

Two starters, John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt, were lost of the season before a regular-season game was even played and the lineup quickly turned to shuffle mode. Veteran Joe Berger was the capable veteran fill-in at center and rookie T.J. Clemmings was the inexperienced stopgap at right tackle.

When the season ended, offensive line coach Jeff Davidson lost his job and head coach Mike Zimmer quickly hired Tony Sparano to take charge of an offensive line that made several additions. The biggest free-agent signing of Minnesota’s offseason, Alex Boone, is expected to be the starting left guard, and Andre Smith will challenge Loadholt and others for the right tackle spot.

Despite all the new personnel, one of the storylines should be the change in attitude from the laid-back Davidson to the (by all accounts) more intense Sparano.

While Boone’s stock was rising with the San Francisco 49ers, he observed Sparano’s style when the former head coach was mentoring tight ends in San Francisco. Boone knows what Sparano will be bringing to the Vikings.  “An attitude. He kind of set the tempo from the first day, which as an offensive line I think is great,” Boone said. “Your coach should always be the general. He’s the guy that sets the tempo for you and laid it out: ‘Listen, there’s no nonsense. We’re going to raise the bar this year.’ I think it was great. It’s one of those things where I’ve never played under Tony directly, but I’ve played with him and I loved the way he coaches and I agreed with it, and so now to have him as a coach I’m excited.”

Boone, too, brings an attitude. He’s high-energy for sure and often sarcastic, which made for an interesting introduction to head coach Mike Zimmer. Boone said he thought Zimmer viewed him has somewhat of “oddball” with his mile-a-minute energy level.

“He’s fun and I know Zim’s dealt with quite a few personalities in his day, so I think (Zimmer) will do just fine with Alex,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said.

“Every day is the exact same from Alex, whether it’s 6:45 walking in the locker room before the 7:30 lift or out here on the field at about 11 o’clock. His energy never changes. That’s good for us as a football team. We need that energy. I think he’ll bring that to not only our front but our entire offense.”

The Vikings have been able to meet in classroom settings for about a month now, so the offensive linemen have been immersed into Sparano’s line of thinking. There could also be some adjustments in the blocking schemes.

But, mostly, it is expected to be an adjustment in personality with the additions of Boone and Sparano.

“(Boone) fits right along with Tony being in the room, let’s put it that way,” Sullivan said.


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