Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was not interested in picking any one or two players when asked to name an unsung hero on offense this season. Instead, he selected an entire unit.
"I would point out a group, and that's our offensive line," Linehan told VU. "First of all, they are very well-coached, and, second of all, they bring the leadership qualities to our team that really doesn't get recognized. The way they come to work every day, the way they prepare, the way they play, I really think they don't get the credit they deserve. Obviously, Matt Birk is well thought of and has made Pro Bowls. But I think you are really going to see a group, with the addition of Bryant (McKinnie), that over time is going to be one of the better lines in the league.
"If having a guy (Bennett) go for 1,000 yards rushing in the 13th game of the year and a receiver (Randy Moss has more than 1,000 yards receiving), to me those are offensive line numbers. You can say, ‘Hey, we are doing some great things offensively. They can't hang on to the ball for the guys and those things. But they are opening the holes for a running back that was considered a big question mark in the preseason and is going to be opening a lot of people's eyes.
"We are first in the NFC in rushing and second in the NFL in rushing, and we are sitting here with a (losing) record. If you had told me that we would be (losing) and be first in the (NFC) in rushing, I would have told you ‘You're crazy.'"
But Linehan points out that all the top rankings for this offense are undone by the Vikings' league-worst ranking in the take-away, give-away category.
"We've just made too many young mistakes because we offensively have gone up and down the field against people," he said. "We are doing some great things offensively. We just can't make the mistakes. The turnovers, the most critical stat, has got to be improved on. Believe me, we spend night and day figuring out of a way. But we got in a hole and so it's really hard to dig yourself out. The only way we can do that is to not (commit turnovers) and win games. But there are a lot of things to build on, believe me."
Running back Doug Chapman, who suffered abdominal bleeding after taking a hit in the Oct. 20 loss to the New York Jets and was placed on injured reserve, is coming along slowly, according to running backs coach Dean Dalton.
"Unfortunately, it's just nature's cycle," he said. "It's got to dissipate, and it hasn't done that yet internally completely. But he's back. He works out. He is lifting weights and things, and ideally he will be able to start running here sometime soon. I think he has his weight back up close to where he was before his injury."
Linehan Credits Offensive Line
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