Is Vikings' Kalil 3rd-worst tackle?
By Chris TomassonSt. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Matt Kalil is no fan of Pro Football Focus, the website that deems him one of the worst tackles in the NFL. "You can't listen to some people who don't know what they're talking about," the Vi...
By Chris Tomasson
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - Matt Kalil is no fan of Pro Football Focus, the website that deems him one of the worst tackles in the NFL.
“You can’t listen to some people who don’t know what they’re talking about,” the Vikings left tackle said.
The website, which has gained popularity for its exhaustive and sometimes arcane rankings of NFL players, has the Vikings’ third-year man rated the third-worst among 78 regular NFL tackles.
Pro Football Focus, he said, hires “random fans and give(s) them a training camp on how to grade people.”
“I’m not going against them because they hammer me,” he added, “but, I mean, it’s not a credible site. ... They don’t know the blocking schemes, they don’t know who’s (at) fault” for a bad play.
Pro Football Focus senior analyst Sam Monson defended the site.
“Individual players are, of course, entitled to their opinion, but we are a little more credible than a group of fans guessing every Sunday,” Monson wrote in an email.
“We have sat down with coaches, front-office personnel and players and explained to them what we do. We have graded plays with them and they’re on board with the system, the accuracy and what we do. … Our recruitment and training is also a little more sophisticated than an analysis boot camp.”
As a rookie in 2012, Kalil was ranked 21 out of 80 NFL tackles by the site. He was ranked 51st of 76 in 2013, when he battled a knee injury that required offseason surgery.
Pro Football Focus has not been Kalil’s only critic this season, and the tackle acknowledges he has struggled at times. But he also believes he has been unfairly maligned.
“For the most part, it’s that small group of people who really don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “I’m not putting myself out there. I’ve had a few bad games where I’ve been played pretty bad, but for the most part I think that gets blown out of proportion, and any little mistake you make, people want to criticize you for everything.”
Kalil’s brother, Ryan, is a four-time Pro Bowl selection for Carolina who publicly defended his brother the week before the Vikings’ 30-13 victory over the Panthers Nov. 30. Their father, Frank, is a former pro offensive lineman.
“I’ve talked to my brother and my father; they’re no-B.S. guys,’’ Kalil said. “They tell me when I have a bad game. I talked to my brother, and he said I’m playing fine. He’s talked to coaches here, and I’m doing alright.”
Criticism of Kalil reached a peak following a 24-21 loss to Green Bay on Nov. 23. He was penalized three times and after the game knocked the hat off a fan who was heckling him outside TCF Bank Stadium. A film clip made the rounds, and Kalil apologized for the incident the next day.
On Thursday, Kalil said he was most upset after that game because starting right tackle Phil Loadholt had been lost for the season because of a shoulder injury.
“He was out for the season, so I was already pissed off,” he said. “I mean, usually those guys, they’re not even worth my time to do anything. But he kind of caught me at a perfect moment, when I was just kind of already mad.”
Kalil has played through knee soreness for much of the season, although he said that has improved the past couple of weeks. He said the criticism has made him stronger, but he added that he has learned to avoid social media.
“Obviously I’m playing with a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I’ve definitely got something to prove, not so much to anyone else but to myself, because I know the level I can play at. I’ve never really been injured (before last season), so that’s a new thing for me. But, if anything, this year has made me more mentally tough than I’ve ever been.
“If you live on social media, it can make or break you in the good or bad. If it was my first year, and this was happening, obviously I lived on that stuff, social media. But it was a little different because everyone was praising me; I was a rookie doing well. But you kind of learn over the years.”
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