The Minnesota Vikings weren’t supposed to start the season undefeated. The losses of Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, Matt Kalil, and Sharrif Floyd spelled doom for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
But led my head coach Mike Zimmer and the NFL’s most dangerous defense, they’ve overcome the odds, beating NFC powerhouses like the Packers and Panthers along the way. It’s been an exhilarating run for fans, and one that may only improve with time.
Still, had you asked any fan before the season whether Sam Bradford could carry the Vikings or T.J. Clemmings would seemingly outperform Kalil, they’d have laughed in your face. This has been a surprising stretch of success in Minnesota, one that few outside the state or fan base expected.
Inside the Vikings Territory writer’s room, I asked the same question and received a few surprising answers:
“On a scale from 1-10, how surprised are you by Minnesota’s 3-0 start to the season?”
Adam Warwas — 5
I’m at about a “5” on that scale. The NFL is a tough place to accumulate wins, and three against decorated and athletic quarterbacks is something only the biggest of homers would’ve actually predicted. However, I’ve maintained that this is a championship defense capable of winning us some games and I think we were lucky enough to see that come to life starting in Week 1.
The hope is that it continues, that the replacement squad that is our offense gradually improves, and that special teams continues to making game changing plays (not those game changing plays, Blair). It is a toss up as to whether or not our offensive line or field goal kicker would be our Achilles heel this season, but I’m hoping that our playmakers on offense and dominant defense can keep masking those problems and prevent them from translating to losses. 3-0 is a pleasant surprise, but I’m not shocked…
I honestly would’ve been 500% more surprised had this team started out 0-3 despite the tough start to the schedule.
Sam Neumann — 8
Even after the Bridgewater injury, it was conceivable that the team could keep the first two games close and ride its defense to a few tight victories. But Week 3 at Carolina? Despite what I may have said on camera, I never saw that coming.
I’m extremely impressed with the way Zimmer has guided the team after a number of significant injuries, and pleasantly surprised with how Sam Bradford has operated in the offense so far. Rick Spielman’s usual critics were loud and prominent when he gave up a first- and fourth-round draft pick in the Bradford trade, but I haven’t heard much from them the past few weeks.
Kudos to Spielman for showing leadership and doing the right thing, without worrying about the perception.
A month ago, we were thinking the season was over before it started. Things look a lot different today.
Adam Patrick — 7
Let’s go with “7.”
After Teddy was lost for the year before the start of the season, the Vikings were still capable of achieving success in 2016. A 2-1 record may have been more believable after three weeks of play, but Minnesota has jumped on the board of captain Mike Zimmer’s ship and the Vikings have yet to lose a game this season.
If Minnesota wins their next game and remains undefeated after Week 4, it is hard to imagine that even the most die hard Vikings fans could have envisioned a start like this in 2016.
Brent LaBathe — 10
There was no way I thought the Vikings would win both the Green Bay and Carolina game. The first half of the Carolina game, in fact, didn’t surprise me much as I expected the team to come out flat after such an emotional victory seven days prior.
Also in consideration, is the not so distant memory of the egg the Vikings laid on national TV to open the 2015 season in San Francisco. I never will count a Zimmer team out, but with the injuries the Vikings have sustained, I never thought they’d be 3-0 going into the Monday Night Football match-up against the Giants.