By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings are off to a 3-1 start and are tied with the Chicago Bears for the NFC North Division lead. Almost all of the national analysts have pegged the Vikings as the NFL’s biggest surprise.
Offensive Player of the Month: WR Percy Harvin
The former first round draft pick is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL. He leads the Vikings with four plays of 20 yards or more. He has lined up as a wide receiver, running back and “wildcat” quarterback this season. Harvin currently ranks third in the NFL in receptions with 30, two behind the leader. He leads the NFL with 217 yards after the catch.
Runners-up: Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder and Kyle Rudolph
Defensive Player of the Month: LB Chad Greenway
The former first round draft pick leads the Vikings and is tied for third in the NFL in tackles (44) and solo tackles (30). He also ranks tied for second on the Vikings with two sacks. Greenway is the heart and soul of the Vikings. He posted one of the best games of his career in a Week 3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Mall of America Field. He recorded 13 tackles, 10 solo tackles, two sacks, two quarterback hits and a tackle for a loss against the team considered the league’s most complete team.
Runners-up: Everson Griffen, Erin Henderson and Antoine Winfield
Special Teams Player of the Month: K Blair Walsh
Special teams have been the best Vikings unit through four games. Having to pick one is difficult, but giving the nod to Walsh makes the most sense. He converted 9-of-10 field goals, including a perfect 3-for-3 over 50 yards. Most importantly, the rookie has made all three field goal attempts in the final minute of the first or second half or overtime. Walsh also has contributed on kickoffs with 12 touchbacks in 20 tries.
Runners-up: Percy Harvin and Marcus Sherels
Best Newcomer: S Harrison Smith
The first round pick has been a key piece of the Vikings’ much improved secondary. He leads the Vikings in passes defensed with six and is tied for third on the team in tackles with 22. He has built a reputation as a hard hitter that will make receivers pay for going across the middle. That reputation has forced receivers to drop and miss passes.
Runners-up: Matt Kalil and Josh Robinson
Best Win: Vikings 24, 49ers 13
The Vikings entered the Week 3 contest at Mall of America Field as seven point underdogs.
The Vikings out played and out coached the 49ers from the opening kickoff. The 49ers got knocked back on their heels and couldn’t catch up to the physicality of the Vikings.
“It’s huge for the rest of our season,” Rudolph said after the game. “It’s a springboard.”
It the Vikings continue to win and be in playoff contention as the season winds down, Rudolph will be correct. But, if the Vikings end up in a similar place in the standings as they were the last couple seasons (at the bottom of the NFC North), it will just go down as one of the great upsets of the NFL season.
Either way, it was an impressive showing by the Vikings. They were the best team in the NFL that day.
Quote of the Month: Head Coach Leslie Frazier
“I go all the way back to when we came back on April 23rd and began our offseason conditioning program. The attendance was outstanding during that phase and it continued right on through OTAs, the mandatory minicamp. These are voluntary sessions but the attendance we had here gave me an indication that the guys were really hungry to have success and that’s what you need to see.”–Head coach Leslie Frazier on when he started seeing his young players buy in to what he and the coaching staff are trying to do.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Vikings news, see CBS Sports Minnesota.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.