Chris Tomasson / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS—The Vikings gave up first- and fourth-round draft picks for Sam Bradford. The Houston Texans doled out $72 million for Brock Osweiler. Put the two moves together and what does it mean? "If you're going to win a Super Bowl, you have to have a guy behind center who can make plays,'' Joe Theismann, the quarterback when Washington won Super Bowl XVII in January 1983, said Wednesday. "In the game today, without a good quarterback, you just don't have a chance.''
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.—When Vikings running back Adrian Peterson went down with a knee injury last month, Jerick McKinnon got another coach. Since being lost at least until December, Peterson has been sending words of inspiration to McKinnon and fellow running back Matt Asiata. On Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium, Peterson was on the sideline providing advice to McKinnon, who started in his place against the New York Giants. "Adrian is always getting in our ear," McKinnon said. "When I came out in the second half, he was telling me to take what the defense gives you."
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.—The Vikings don't always need a gaudy sack total to rattle the opposing quarterback. They entered Monday night averaging an NFL-best five sacks per game. They didn't get any in a 24-10 win over the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium, but they sure affected Eli Manning. Obviously wary of the pass rush, Manning threw mostly quick passes throughout the game. He rarely challenged Minnesota with long balls.
MINNEAPOLIS—Before a "Monday Night Football" game three years ago, then-ESPN play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico was asked for a reason why fans should watch the 1-4 Vikings face the 0-6 New York Giants. Tirico was able to come up with one. "You have a bunch of fantasy owners who need this game for their win or loss," Tirico said. Suffice to say, whoever had Josh Freeman on their team then probably didn't win. It was Oct. 21, 2013, and Freeman played the only game he ever would as Minnesota's quarterback. It was a complete disaster.
MINNEAPOLIS—Vikings guard Alex Boone has bounced back so quickly from a hip injury he's no longer even listed on the injury report. Boone, who was taken off on a cart in the second quarter last Sunday at Carolina and didn't return, will start Monday night when the Vikings face the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Boone missed Thursday's first practice of the week but was back for workouts Friday and Saturday. He called it "huge" having an extra day before Monday's game for his right hip to recover. "Everything feels good,'' Boone said Saturday.
MINNEAPOLIS—For the Vikings' regular-season debut two weeks ago at glitzy U.S. Bank Stadium, the Purple People Eaters were honorary captains. Legendary defensive linemen Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Gary Larsen and Doug Sutherland went out for the coin flip before Minnesota faced the Green Bay Packers at the $1.1 billion venue. So, what has happened in the two games since? The Vikings have recorded 13 sacks, five against the Packers and eight last Sunday at Carolina.
MINNEAPOLIS—ESPN NFL analyst Jon Gruden didn't know who Adam Thielen and Jeremiah Sirles were until he started preparing to work Monday night's game at U.S. Bank Stadium. "I'm trying to figure out who No. 19 is," Gruden said Thursday. "I mean, the kid's from Minnesota State (Mankato) and he's an undrafted guy and he's making tough catches."
MINNEAPOLIS—T.J. Clemmings has been getting plenty of support since replacing Matt Kalil as the Vikings' starting left tackle. Some of it has come from Kalil. Kalil had hip surgery last Friday, likely ending his season. Two days later, he was on the phone with Clemmings after his debut at left tackle in a 22-10 win at Carolina. "He told me to continue doing what I've been doing and just go out and ball," Clemmings said. The two are good friends. After the team returned to the Twin Cities, they saw each other Monday.
MINNEAPOLIS—How good is the Vikings' defense? Well, ask their offense. Minnesota's offensive players have to play against the defense regularly in practice. Come game day, they finally can turn into fans. "Our defense is unreal," wide receiver Charles Johnson, a four-year veteran, said Tuesday. "It's one of the best I've seen since I've been been in the league. I mean, they're the backbone of our team."
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.—Vikings coach Mike Zimmer challenged Linval Joseph to be a better pass rusher this season. Joseph has been taking it out on NFL MVPs and Heisman Trophy winners. The Vikings nose tackle has had a sack in each of Minnesota's three games. He got former Heisman winner Marcus Mariota of Tennessee in the first game, two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay in the second and on Sunday sacked Carolina's Cam Newton, who has MVP and Heisman trophies. "I'm doing my job,'' Joseph said. "I'm delivering.''