One of the new faces in the Minnesota Vikings locker room this season is guard Alex Boone. He came over from a San Francisco team that had its share of struggles over the last couple of seasons and was looking for a fresh start with a team on the rise. Few teams fit that bill quite like the Vikings.
Boone has fit in nicely to an offensive line that has been forced to be shuffled and shifted since his arrival, but the bottom line is the wins and losses and the Vikings have four of the former and none of the latter.
“You’re 4-0,” Boone said. “There’s a lot of things you wish you could take back. That’s football, that’s part of it. For the most part, you’ve got to live in the moment and know that you’re 4-0. You’re a hunted team now.”
Boone gives a lot of credit for the Vikings’ fast start to the heady play of quarterback Sam Bradford, who came to the Vikings over Labor Day weekend following the catastrophic knee injury to Teddy Bridgewater.
Boone saw something of revolving door at quarterback in San Francisco the last couple of seasons and has been impressed with how Bradford conducts himself in practice and in games.
There is a lot he likes about Bradford, but topping the list is his game awareness and intelligence.
“I think the fact that he’s so smart,” Boone said. “He knows the defenses, he knows where the ball is going, he knows his reads. I think the one thing that a lot of people don’t see about Sam is that, if he feels pressure, if he knows that we can’t block somebody, he’ll kind of scramble and he’ll get rid of the ball. He’s not afraid to just throw the ball down or get it out of his hands. That’s helps us an offensive line and frustrates a defense.”
For the uninitiated, there is the belief that the Vikings are still running just a portion of Norv Turner’s playbook because Bradford is still learning the system. Boone disagrees.
He has been amazed how quickly Bradford has picked up the terminology and the multiple reads within Turner’s system and has embraced the challenge of taking on more of the offense every week.
At this point, he feels like there isn’t anything Bradford can’t run from the Vikings’ offensive well of play calls.
“I think we’ve opened up the playbook,” Boone said. “Sam is that kind of guy that you can throw a lot at him and he’ll handle it. He’s a smart guy. He’s very confident right now. He’s playing phenomenal football and I think the sky’s the limit for him once we start hitting our stride.”
Although the Vikings are one of just three unbeaten teams remaining in the NFL, this Sunday’s game with Houston is one that the players are looking forward to because the bye week follows and all the players that have been banged up and injured between the start of training camp and now will get the one respite during the season to heal up and recharge their batteries for the final 2½ months of the season.
But the last thing a team on a roll wants is to have a sour taste in its mouth heading into a bye. It would make for some angry down time, which would prevent guys like Boone from enjoying his rare time off.
“If you lose before the bye week, it’s awful,” Boone said. “You just sit there and think about the things that went wrong and you wish you could have things back. It’s tough, so this has got to be a win week.”
The offensive line has had its share of struggles early on – the running game is still at the bottom of the league and, prior to last week, had scored just three offensive touchdowns. But with the pieces seeming to fall into place, there is a lot of reason for optimism and Boone is convinced that people haven’t seen the best of the Vikings O-line yet.
“It’s a room that’s not satisfied with where we are right now, so that’s a plus,” Boone said. “We know the corrections we need to make. We see them. Now we just have to go out and do them.”