10 biggest disappointments from the 2018 Vikings

Yes, the interior of the offensive line made the list. It was bad.
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Pat Elflein

It's 2019 so we'll try not to live in 2018 for much longer, but it wouldn't be right if we skipped out on identifying the 10 most disappointing things about the Vikings this past season. 

Here they are, listed in no particular order. 

1. The interior of the offensive line

The core of the offensive line, left guard Tom Compton, center Pat Elflein and right guard Mike Remmers, was about as bad as they get in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the trio finished with average to below-average grades. 

  • Compton: 60.2 rating (average)
  • Elflein: 43.5 rating (below average)
  • Remmers: 58.9 rating (average

Elflein ranked 38th among centers in the NFL, per PFF's grades, while Compton was 45th among left guards and Remmers was the 48th-ranked right guard. 

Meanwhile, left tackle Riley Reiff graded out with a high quality 73.6 rating and rookie right tackle Brian O'Neil had an average rating of 63.0. 

2. Giving up on Daniel Carlson

Thinking they were a quality kicker away from being a Super Bowl contender, the Vikings gave rookie Daniel Carlson, the guy they drafted in the fifth round, the boot after he missed three kicks in a Week 2 tie with the Packers. 

They replaced him with Dan Bailey, who ranked 29th out of 30 kickers with a 75 percent field goal conversion rate (21-of-28). 

Carlson was signed by the Raiders and made 16-of-17 field goals and was perfect on extra points. 

3. Adam Thielen's second half of the season

It's hard to put any blame on the guy who finished tied fourth in the NFL with 113 receptions and racked up more than 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns, but the Pro Bowl receiver's numbers were literally cut in half from the first half of the season to the second half. 

  • 1st eight games: 74 catches, 925 yards, 6 TD
  • 2nd eight games: 39 catches, 448 yards, 3 TD

4. Wasting dominant performances against Brees, Wilson

The Vikings limited Drew Brees to 120 passing yards and Russell Wilson to 72 passing yards but lost both games. The problem in the loss to the Saints was turnovers, namely Thielen's fumble in the red zone and Kirk Cousins' pick-six to P.J. Williams. 

The issue against Seattle was a bad run defense that allowed 214 yards, not to mention one of the worst offensive performances of the season.  

5. Losing at home to the Buffalo Bills

The Vikings were nearly 20-point favorites but got smoked by a Bills team that had been outscored 78-23 in two games before the Week 3 embarrassment. Not only that, but rookie quarterback Josh Allen made the Vikings' all-world defense look silly, doing so in the first road start of his career. 

6. Nobody developed into a trustworthy third wide receiver

Thielen and Stefon Diggs combined for 225 receptions, 2,394 yards and 18 touchdowns. The rest of the wide receivers – Laquon Treadwell, Aldrick Robinson, Brandon Zylstra and Chad Beebe – totaled 57 catches for 595 yards and six touchdowns (five for Robinson). 

Treadwell, in what might be the most overconfident review in NFL history, told reporters on Monday that he had a "great" season. Apparently he thinks 32 catches and one touchdown is great. 

Minnesota needs to add a trustworthy third receiver for 2019 to take the pressure off of Thielen and Diggs, who were shut down in a bunch of games late in the season. 

7. Xavier Rhodes' injuries

The all-pro cornerback just couldn't stay healthy this season, dealing with foot, hamstring and groin injuries. He only missed two games but was questionable entering five games and clearly wasn't the same player he was a season ago. 

PFF gave Rhodes a final grade of 58.2, which ranked 108th among all cornerbacks, and way down from his 72.4 grade in 2017. 

8. Going 1-6 against playoff-bound teams

If you want to be the best you have to beat the best, and the Vikings flopped when it mattered most, losing to playoff teams six times in seven games. They beat the Eagles in Philly, but lost to the Rams, Saints, Bears twice, Seahawks and Patriots. 

If they had won just one more of those games they would've clinched a playoff spot in Week 16 and would be looking forward to a game in Chicago or Dallas this weekend. 

9. Kirk Cousins flopping in important games

The $84 million quarterback finished with 4,298 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but he didn't play well when it mattered most. In fact, he choked in losses to the Bills, Saints, Patriots, Seahawks and twice against the Bears. 

  • Bills: lost 2 of 3 fumbles and threw a bad interception. 
  • Saints: threw a pick-six that gave the Saints a 27-13 lead in the 3rd quarter. 
  • Patriots: passed for just 201 yards and was intercepted twice in the 4th quarter. 
  • Seahawks: a 4th-quarter fumble was picked up and returned for a TD. 
  • Bears: picked off twice, once for a TD in the first loss, and threw for just 132 yards in the second loss.  

10. Third-down failures

Minnesota's offense turned just 35.6 percent of third downs into first downs, which ranked 26th in the NFL and second-worst in the NFC (only Arizona was lower). 

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