How the Vikings Can Help Ed Ingram Against Washington's Front Four

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last Sunday, Ed Ingram had his worst game as a pass blocker, receiving a 16.9 PFF grade. Conversely, J.J. Watt of the Arizona Cardinals had his best game as a pass rusher, generating seven pressures, two of which were sacks.

The bottom line? Arizona blatantly targeted Ingram.

On every crucial third down towards the end of the game, Watt would line up over Ingram and bull rush him directly into Kirk Cousins‘ lap.

Ingram’s struggles this season in pass protection have been no secret. He’s allowed 28 pressures to go along with six sacks through seven games. However, we had never seen a team blatantly target Ingram the way the Cardinals did on Sunday.

The Vikings’ coaching staff must solve this problem quickly because Cousins tends to struggle under pressure. He has posted a 55.4 grade under pressure this season, which is significantly lower than his 81.6 grade when the pocket is clean.

Additionally, despite the Vikings scoring 30-plus points for the first time this season, Kirk had his lowest PFF grade since he threw three interceptions in Week 2.

The ease with which the Cardinals generated pressure in this game will undoubtedly alert Minnesota’s future opponents. Therefore, it will not be surprising if this tactic is used as a blueprint to attempt to disrupt the Vikings’ offense in the future.

Ingram’s job will not get any easier this week. The Washington Commanders have an elite front four: Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Chase Young. Any of these players will be a mismatch if Ingram has to block them one-on-one. However, there are plenty of ways the Vikings can give Ingram the help he needs.

The first is to keep Cook or Mattison in to block on third-and-long situations. Both Vikings running backs are willing pass-blockers.

However, that would leave Cousins with one fewer option in the passing game. Still, having a clean pocket certainly outweighs the option to check it down.

The second way to help Ingram is to run the ball more frequently. Although Ingram has struggled to pass block, he has been a force in the running game.

So far this season, Ingram has a 71.5 run-blocking grade and a 30.5 pass-blocking grade from PFF. With such a large discrepancy in success and the Vikings running the ball as efficiently as they have been, there is no reason to turn away from it.

The Vikings can also help Ingram by running screen passes his way. This solution kills two birds with one stone. Not only will the Vikings be slowing down the pass rush by making the defensive line think twice, but it will also allow Ingram to get out in space and utilize his run-blocking skills.

The Vikings will not be able to help Ingram on every snap, though. There will be plays in this game in which they leave Ingram on an island against the likes of Jonathan Allen or Daron Payne, and it’s hard to imagine those going in Ingram’s favor.

However, I believe Ingram will fix this issue sooner than later. He was known to be a better pass-blocker than a run-blocker at LSU. He only allowed two sacks during his final season in college, despite playing in the SEC.

The transition from playing left guard at LSU in 2021 to playing right guard as a rookie in the NFL has not gone as smoothly as the Vikings likely envisioned. But they have not benched him yet, indicating that this coaching staff is confident that he can become a complete player.

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