There was a collective gasp among Vikings fans the day Teddy Bridgewater went down with a season-ending knee injury.
A season filled with so much promise and potential became filled with uncertainty. The Vikings had all kinds of talent, but they were without a quarterback. General Manager Rick Spielman had to do something, so he went all-in.
He traded a 2017 first-round pick and a conditional 2018 pick to the Eagles for Sam Bradford. It sent a message to the team that management wasn’t throwing in the towel. But many fans didn’t like the move, saying the picks were too much to give away for Bradford, who had two knee injuries himself and hadn’t proven to be a great quarterback.
Six weeks into the season, the Vikings are 5-0 and just like we all thought, Bradford is statistically one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Here are four reasons he could be the Vikings franchise quarterback, leaving them with a decision to make if and when Bridgewater comes back to full health.
Bradford Under Contract Through 2018
With the trade, Sam Bradford is under contract with the Vikings for two full seasons. The trade gave the Vikings a chance to have a meaningful season, and it was a way for Spielman to tell his players he thinks they can win and do it now. It also signaled that team officials think it will take a while for Bridgewater to make a full recovery. What happens from there nobody knows, but they needed to take a chance.
And it’s happened before. Tom Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe in New England. Kurt Warner replaced Trent Green in St. Louis and won a Super Bowl.
Vikings Have Molded New Offense Around Him
One of the big reasons for getting Bradford was that he already knew and was comfortable with a majority of the Vikings offensive coaching staff. That’s why it took less than two weeks for him to feel good enough to be behind center. Other injuries have certainly changed things, but they’ve made adjustments with their formations and play calls to give Bradford more confidence. Maybe more importantly, they’re doing their best to keep him upright with plays out of the shotgun and quick passes.
Vikings Will Have To Choose Between Bradford, Bridgewater
It’s a “cross the bridge when you get to it” scenario, but the Vikings could have a decision to make when Bridgewater is healthy enough to play. If Bradford continues to play well and lead the Vikings to victories, can you just sit him when Bridgewater returns? It’s said that you’re not supposed to lose your job due to injury in sports, but the Vikings will be in that spot next year if Bradford’s play keeps up. If they sign him to an extension before next season, it would be the end of Bridgewater in Minnesota. That’s a tough choice to make since Bridgewater has the full support of all his teammates and coaches. It’s why football is a business.
Bradford Has The Ability, When Healthy
Bradford has shown so far that if he can just stay upright, he can be successful. In four victories, he’s completing 70.4 percent of his passes. He has six touchdowns without an interception and a rating of 109.7. He’s taken a few big hits and been sacked eight times in four games. The coaches know how important he is, and you can see it in their play design. He’s either in the shotgun or getting the ball out quickly. There’s no deep drop backs or hesitation.
There’s also the fact that Spielman loves to be right with personnel decisions he makes. Christian Ponder was a first-round pick at quarterback and flopped. Donovan McNabb failed, and Josh Freeman was horrible. While he drafted Bridgewater and loves his potential, Bradford will be the guy until he fails, if that ever happens.
It’s crazy how six weeks can change things. When the trade for Bradford was official, it was too much to give up for a former No. 1 overall pick. Four victories later, some are ready to call Bradford the franchise quarterback for the Vikings.
For now, Vikings fans should just try to enjoy the 5-0 start and hope the offensive line doesn’t get Bradford hurt.