Offensive line finds success in aggression

The Vikings erased their offensive struggles over the last game and a half, and the offensive line did its part with a more aggressive approach. John Sullivan and Steve Hutchinson talked about the adjustments, both physically and mentally, that they made.

In general in the NFL, defensive linemen are the aggressive types and offensive linemen are more the introverted personalities.

Vikings center John Sullivan found that a more aggressive approach in the calls he makes at the line of scrimmage has been helpful in the resurgence of the Vikings offense.

"We've been more aggressive since the second half of Chicago," Sullivan said of the offensive line. "There is some leeway on certain calls and I think every single call (Sunday against the New York Giants) I went with the more aggressive option."

The timing of that change coincided with the turnaround for the Vikings offense. After scoring only seven points in six quarters of play against the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears, the offense has been on a tear of late. It scored 30 points in the second half of the Bears game and scored 41 points in 40 minutes of game time against the New York Giants before Brett Favre left the game with a 41-0 lead.

The Vikings went to more of a pass-first attack Sunday, as Adrian Peterson had only nine carries, but Sullivan said he was making more aggressive line calls.

"We can make calls where we can be more aggressive on certain running plays or we can sit back and try to see what the defense is doing based on what we think they are going to do on that play," Sullivan said. "Every single call yesterday I wasn't going to let the defense dictate to us. Anytime I had the option to make the more aggressive of two calls I made it."

It must have worked. Favre wasn't sacked and passed for 316 yards and four touchdowns, and Peterson, while limited in the number of carries he had, averaged six yards a rush, including a touchdown.

"I think just everybody (had) a little bit of a sense of urgency," Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson said when asked about the team's fast start against the Giants. "Everybody kind of played like we had something to lose and we weren't going to let it slip because of something that we did. I think it was a lesson to be learned really from that Chicago game, coming out that first half and not really doing much offensively. When we put our mind to it and play together and play with the intensity that we should there's not really too many teams that can stop us. I think if anything good came out of the Bears game it was to show us (that). Maybe that was the game that got us back on track."

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said offensive linemen are no different from any of the other offensive players in their approach. When the offense isn't clicking, they want to turn it around and prove they are better than that.

"Nobody likes to get embarrassed," he said. "You always want to come back strong – the offensive line and the whole offense. I feel the offensive line is part of the offense that wants to prove itself. So everybody is just playing more aggressive."

Despite their struggles at Carolina and again in the first half at Chicago, Hutchinson said the offense didn't lose confidence. The players didn't keep the momentum from their first 11 games going when they lost three out of four in December, but the offense is back on track just in time for the playoffs.

"Typically if you wanted to do anything, you would want to start out slow and hit your stride going into December and the playoffs," Hutchinson said. "We kind of had a little bit of a hiccup for three weeks in December. I think for whatever reason the second half of the Bears and this game we got back on track."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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