Chris Berman opened a segment on SportsCenter Sunday asking the questions “What is it that [the Vikings] haven’t really done? This defense is a monster, right guys?
The prompt led ESPN NFL analysts Ryan Clark and Herm Edwards to praise the Vikings after improving to 5-0 with Sunday’s 31-13 victory over Houston.
Clark, the former player and Super Bowl champion, said “They are making very good football players bad. They are making good football teams look awful. And when you have a defense that can do that – move quarterbacks off the spot, pressure, be physical, cover – you always have a chance to win.
“And the way Sam Bradford is playing on offense right now, this is going to be a tough team for anyone to beat.”
Edwards, the former NFL coach and player, agreed with Clark and many other national experts that the Vikings continue to prove they are worthy of the NFL's only remaining undefeated record.
“They take the ball away, they’re good on special teams, and Sam Bradford is having the time of his life," Edwards said. "Think about Sam Bradford walks into a place and says ‘OK, I’m going to be the quarterback for this team' and they lose their running back and they lose their left tackle. [But] They’re 5-0. It says a lot about their coach and this football team.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reminded national readers that just six weeks ago Vikings fans appeared ready to adopt the “we’ll get ‘em next year” posture earlier than usual.
Then he wrote “Fast forward to Week Five, and the Vikings head into their annual bye week at 5-0. … Somehow.
“They’ve done it without Teddy Bridgewater, but with one win from Shaun Hill and four in a row from Sam Bradford. They’ve done it with Adrian Peterson not doing much in the first two games before suffering a serious knee injury.
“They’ve done it without left tackle Matt Kalil and, on Sunday, without receiver Stefon Diggs or right tackle Andre Smith.
“They’re doing it in large part because of a suffocating defense and an ability to generate offense in many different ways.”
ESPN NFL Nation reporter Kevin Seifert tweeted Sunday “The Vikings became the NFL's only undefeated team today without the starters they planned to have at quarterback, running back, No. 1 receiver, left tackle, right tackle, right guard and under tackle. Their start has been a testament both to roster depth and coaches finding ways to use replacements effectively."
ESPN’ Dan Graziano wrote that the Vikings believe they can get a lot better. He added “Some will posit the Vikings' 5-0 start as one of the early-season NFL surprises. The Vikings themselves are not surprised. They have believed, through the entire offseason and after major injuries to their quarterback, star running back and left tackle, that they were built to withstand anything and win a championship. The evidence we've seen so far makes it tough to argue."
Randy Moss of NFL.com questioned Sunday if the Vikings’ banged up roster would eventually catch up to them. Injuries weren't an issue again against Houston and analysts will likely argue this point every week the rest of the season.
CBS Sports NFL writer John Breech gave the Vikings another ‘A’ in his Week 5 grades. They were just one of six teams to play Sunday that received that perfect grade.
“Every week, you pretty much know that the Vikings defense is going to show up and terrorize,” Breech wrote. “Well, this week, we found out what happens when the offense and special teams both contribute big plays: The Vikings roll. The Texans were basically left for dead by the second quarter after Marcus Sherels returned a punt 79-yards for a touchdown. Adam Thielen also came out of nowhere to have the biggest game of his career: The receiver caught seven passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. That's really impressive when you consider that he only had 144 receiving yards in all of 2015.”