Entering the season, the Minnesota Vikings were a big favorite to represent the NFC in this season’s Super Bowl. Even I had them winning the NFC North over a team like the Packers. This all changed when Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury in the last practice of the preseason. The word devastation is an understatement to describe how this injury affected the entire Vikings organization, fans included. While Bridgewater doesn’t standout to “box score scouts”, he knows what he needs to do in order to orchestrate a successful Minnesota offense. His playing style fits what Mike Zimmer wants to do, and this looked like the year for the Vikings to make a run.
— theScore (@theScore) September 5, 2016
Another wrinkle in the Bridgewater injury is the timetable for his return. This was a freak injury and some are concerned that he may not even be available to return at the start of next season. Bradford gives them some flexibility and reliability at the QB position if Teddy’s recovery stretches out longer than many hope. Following the injury, a bit of desperation crept into the Vikings front office. NFL journeymen Shaun Hill was set to be the new starting QB. This led Rick Spielman to make a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia Eagles as he acquired Sam Bradford. A clear upgrade, but does it re-surface them as a legitimate threat in the NFC?
Sam Bradford actually graded slightly better than Teddy Bridgewater in PFF QB grades last year: 85.3 to 82.6 pic.twitter.com/QGchDG8pXz
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 3, 2016
According to PFF, Bradford was a slightly higher rated QB than Bridgewater last season. However, don’t put too much into that. Bradford comes into a completely new system just a week before the start of the regular season. Initial growing pains will occur. In one season with the Eagles, Bradford was up and down, but overall played at a decent level. Once he gets his feet wet and gets accustomed to the system, he should provide viable QB play for the Vikings. Not as much will be asked of him compared to his year in Philly as he’s equipped with a much better running game and better overall supporting cast.
MORE: Eagles will receive Vikings' 2017 1st-round draft pick & a fourth-rounder in exchange for Sam Bradford. https://t.co/wj1sJYDBfm
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 3, 2016
Looking at what the Vikings gave up for Bradford, they send a 2017 1st round pick to Philadelphia along with a 4th round pick in 2018. You never like to give up a 1st round selection, especially for someone who is considered to be a mid-tier QB. However, the value given up is a testament to how valuable QBs are in today’s game. While they may have overpaid a bit, the Vikings have plenty of picks in the upcoming draft and have been one of the most sound drafting organizations, even in the later rounds. They have a very well built roster from top to bottom, but was just missing the key ingredient, a QB. I like the aggressiveness from the front office as they recognize their ability to make a legitimate run this year, having added a new signal caller.
Prior to the Bridgewater injury, I had Minnesota taking the division for the 2nd consecutive year by a small margin. Now, I shift over to Green Bay. Still, Minnesota is locked into one of the NFC Wildcard spots. They will drop some games early on in the season as the growing pains with Bradford ensue. However, I see a very strong finish from this football club. After looking over the schedule, I project a 9-10 win season for Minnesota – about a win or two shy what they would experience with Bridgewater under center.
How will Bradford perform for the Vikings? As aforementioned, it’ll take a few weeks for him to get comfortable in Norv Turner’s scheme. The familiarity is there however, with Pat Shurmur who is the current TEs coach in Minnesota. I think Bradford will be just fine. He showed great flashes last season and proved he can be a good passer in this league. He has arguably the best supporting cast of his career and is in the right situation to flourish. The concern has always been staying healthy. Can he play in all 16 games? Probably not. As long as he’s around come playoff time, that’s all that matters for the Vikings and is what will make their investment worthy.