Back in August, it would have been difficult to predict quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Jerick McKinnon would be two key cogs for the Vikings offense.
But the pair have helped Minnesota race out to a 5-0 start after Sunday's 31-13 home win at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune noted that the Vikings expanded use of the shotgun formation has helped Bradford, McKinnon and the rest of Minnesota's offense click in the first part of the season.
*Bradford, their new quarterback, lined up in the shotgun on their first four plays [Sunday], including a pair of 1st-and-10s. After a couple of runs from under center, Bradford completed a 23-yard out route to Adam Thielen and then a 36-yard bomb to the wide receiver, both out of the gun. *
*Bradford barely had time to sip on some Gatorade before the offense was back on the field after a Texans three-and-out. It was more of the same on the second drive, with four straight plays from the shotgun during the scoring drive and five in all before a shotgun run by McKinnon, their speedy new starter, got the Vikings to the 2-yard line. *
Vensel tracked the Vikings with using the shotgun on 15 first-down plays. McKinnon credited Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner for adapting his play calling with so many moving pieces surrounding the Vikings offense.
*With Peterson out indefinitely, perhaps for the rest of the season, the Vikings have changed their offensive approach. Instead of putting their quarterback under center and mixing deep-drop play-action passes with the between-the-tackle runs by Peterson, the Vikings have found success by using a shotgun spread attack that stretches opposing defenses. *
"It just forces the defense to spread out a little bit," McKinnon said. "It's up to the play-caller whether we use it more. But obviously Coach Turner thinks it's a good mix-up for us."
AP: Bradford deserves credit for Vikings hot start
The Vikings have a pair of defensive touchdowns and two more on special teams so far this season.
And while both of those units have been superb, Howard Fendrich of the *Associated Press *wrote that Bradford's guidance of the offense has been equally impressive.
The main reason, to be sure, for Minnesota's success is its tremendously good defense, chock full of talented players such as Xavier Rhodes, Eric Kendricks and Harrison Smith and overseen by head coach Mike Zimmer. That unit held the Houston Texans to 214 net yards in *Minnesota's 31-13 victory Sunday.*
But plenty of credit needs to go to Bradford, who has thrown for six TDs and zero interceptions.
He deserves an apology from everyone who mocked the Vikings for shipping a first-round draft choice (plus another pick) to the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire him.
The Vikings are one of two teams since 1933 to open a season 5-0 without throwing an interception (1969 Rams). Minnesota, however, is staying measured, knowing that all of its goals remain.
"We're not satisfied," Bradford said. "Obviously it's early in the year. We haven't accomplished anything yet."
Bradford has not thrown an interception in 125 attempts this season. He has completed 88 of those passes (good for a 70.4 completion percentage) for 990 yards in four games.