If the wheels hadn’t fallen off before, they certainly have now for the Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota lost 26-20 to the Washington Redskins, not scoring a single point in the second half on their way to defeat no. 4 in a row.
Arif Hasan will have a complete evaluation of this game posted on the site later, and I’ll have a reaction piece Monday after Mike Zimmer’s press conference back in the Twin Cities.
One issue worth discussing now, however, is the loss of left tackle Jake Long on the Vikings’ penultimate play. The recently-signed Long tore his Achilles while backpedaling during a pivotal 2nd and 17 play in the game’s final seconds. Zimmer said after the game he believes Long is out for the season — the latest blow in what has been a wholesale decimation of the offensive line.
“We have no choice,” said Zimmer after the game when asked about moving forward. “That’s what we have to do. We’ll have to figure out a way and keep going.”
For Long, the former no. 1 pick, his career continues to be defined by severe injuries. He has now suffered two torn ACLs, a torn biceps and a torn Achilles. He’ll be a free agent with a very uncertain future this offseason.
He was also beginning to play better football. Prior to Long’s injury, the Vikings had allowed four sacks in two games — not elite, but a vast improvement from the first two performances by Long, whose problems led to multiple sacks and turnovers.
After being carted off the field Sunday, Long was replaced by Jeremiah Sirles, who promptly gave up the game-losing sack on fourth down. He’ll be one of the candidates to permanently replace Long, though there may another option on the roster as well.
Alex Boone, the big left guard, is an option to move over one spot and protect Bradford’s blind side, while Sirles, in all likelihood, would be inserted at left guard.
Boone started 22 games at left tackle for a very good Ohio State team in his college career and occasionally subbed there during his San Francisco 49ers tenure. He’s also got size that should translate well to the left tackle spot.
For the Vikings, they’ll have an undesirable decision to make as they continue playing musical chairs with their offensive line.
For Long, it’s a devastating hit to a once-successful career. “Injuries happen,” Long said after his signing, “and unfortunately I’ve had my fair share, but through all of them I’ve put my head down, I’ve rehabbed, worked hard, haven’t given up, and I know what I can do. I know the type of player I can be when I’m healthy.”