After an encouraging rookie campaign in 2012 that saw him grade at +12.1, Minnesota Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil took a step back last season, finishing at -6.0.
Vikings fans are eager to see if last season was just an injury-riddled anomaly or a true setback in Kalil’s development. It’s too early to definitively answer this question here in Week 3 of the preseason, but Saturday night was not an encouraging outing for Kalil.
This week marked the his first real edge rushing challenge of the young season as he matched up against Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (though Kalil did battle one of the better interior players in the league, Calais Campbell, last week).
It’s safe to say that Hali got the better of this matchup, finishing with a sack, hit, and two hurries against Kalil.
It started at the 7:22 mark of the first quarter when Hali got to the edge for the sack.
Hali then got inside him early in the second quarter, leaving running back Matt Asiata to clean up the mess. To Hali’s credit, he got around Asiata as well, though quarterback Matt Cassel had already been pressured into a throw.
Finally, Hali went back to the outside, once again keeping Kalil’s hands off his frame to get around the edge to pick up the hit on Cassel.
It was more of the same early in the third quarter as Hali used a near-identical move to get around Kalil and force Cassel to step up into a sack from linebacker Derrick Johnson.
For Kalil, it was one of his worst games in pass protection in his career, surrendering five total pressures on 23 attempts to finish at -3.6. Hali notched an impressive +3.5 grade as a pass rusher with all four of his pressures coming against Kalil on only 12 rushes for the game.
While getting owned against Hali is nothing to be ashamed of for the average NFL offensive tackle, the Vikings drafted Kalil to be much more than that, and he needs to show signs that he’s moved past his subpar 2013 and ready to re-claim some of his rookie season success.
While it’s only the preseason, this was not the kind of outing that will encourage Viking fans that he’ll be back to form in 2014.
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