Unsung Hero: Minnesota Vikings LT Riley Reiff
Minnesota Vikings LT Riley Reiff has been a bright spot through five weeks. On Sunday, Reiff played a strong game, consistently offering solid pass protection. His play was a big reason why the offense had a mostly successful day.
Reiff’s Sunday Performance
So far, Brian O’Neill and Garrett Bradbury have been getting more attention in the headlines. Both players are young, and both have played really well this season. O’Neill’s and Bradbury’s success, though, shouldn’t overshadow what has quietly been a really nice start for Reiff.
Reiff’s Sunday performance against Seattle was strong. He consistently demonstrated good power, balance, and patience in pass protection. Reiff did a good job of keeping his head on a swivel as he picked up blitzers and stunting d-linemen. For the most part, Reiff ensured that Cousins stayed clean in the pocket.
Fans can go back and re-watch the game’s opening drive. Reiff did a great job on pretty much all the big plays. Dalvin Cook‘s TD run came from the left side of the offensive line:
At times, Reiff struggled when he had to get to the second level. Blocking K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner is no easy task. In the 3Q, Reiff actually had a great run block on Wagner that led to a big gain for Alexander Mattison, but the play was called back due to a Dru Samia penalty.
While there were some low points, it was encouraging to see Reiff bounce back from his mistakes. If you go watch the final two minutes of the opening half, you’ll find Reiff bouncing back from a couple bad reps. On back to back plays, the Seahawks used a stunt that resulted in the interior d-linemen getting underneath Reiff’s inside shoulder, forcing him off balance. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that even though he lost both of these reps, the Vikings still converted a first down on both plays. Moreover, the Seahawks tried the same thing for a third straight play, and Reiff made the adjustment.
Coming into the season, it certainly seemed that the Minnesota Vikings were going to move on from Riley Reiff. Reports indicated that Reiff had refused a pay cut, prompting him to say goodbye to his teammates. Thankfully, Reiff stayed with the Vikings.
During the offseason, we were among the few Vikings publications to advocate for keeping Reiff. When news emerged of the Vikings’ plan to cut Reiff, we said, “In our opinion, the Vikings would be wise to do everything possible to keep Reiff. They simply aren’t in a position to get cute on the offensive line.” Five weeks into the season, our opinion has been correct. Riley Reiff has been a strong option at LT, one who certainly justifies the Minnesota Vikings’ decision to restructure his deal.