When the Eagles traded up for NDSU Quarterback Carson Wentz in the April draft, Sam Bradford was not thrilled. Bradford, who finished the 2015 season with the Philadelphia Eagles in good fashion, demanded to be traded. Understandably, NFL teams balked at what it would cost to get Bradford, as NJ.com reported, it was going to cost, “more than a second round pick.” Fast forward to Tuesday, August 31st: The Eagles got more than they could ever bargain for by trading Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2017 1st round pick and a 2018 4th round pick.
Bradford has never lit up the league or taken any teams to the playoffs, but in his defense, the playmakers around him over his years with the Rams and his one year with the Eagles were rather non existent. The best name to come out of that group was Danny Amendola in St.Louis. Bradford now goes to a team with Charles Johnson and Stefon Diggs on the outside, Kyle Rudolph at TE, and Adrian Peterson in the backfield. There’s also Laquon Treadwell waiting in the wings to take over Charles Johnson’s starting spot.
Several talking heads in the NFL considered the Vikings to be contenders for the Super Bowl with Bridgewater under center and now there’s no reason why Minnesota couldn’t have the same hopes and dreams. Mike Zimmer has built the Vikings to be a contender with an old school style of ball. Zimmer is going to grind Adrian Peterson to the bone with Jerrick McKinnon as a change of pace running back. It doesn’t hurt that the defense is filled with young studs (Barr, Smith, Floyd, Kendricks, Hunter) and savvy veterans (Newman, Griffen, Joseph) and were at the top of the league last year in points allowed (17.1 per game).
When news broke about QB Teddy Bridgewater’s injury last Tuesday, I immediately was banging the drum for Colin Kaepernick to get to Minnesota. The idea of Kaepernick, McKinnon, and Peterson coming out of the backfield and making people look foolish with their legs sounded really intriguing over potential vanilla veterans that Vikings’ offensive coordinator Norv Turner has worked with: Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer, or current backup Shaun Hill. Most people around the league never thought that Vikings General Manager, Rick Spielman, would make such a bold trade to try and save the season. Bradford does’t need to put up elite stats for the Vikings to contend for a playoff birth. Zimmer is going to preach ball control and mistake-free football. It’s exactly how Zimmer wants Teddy Bridgewater to run the offensive unit. Bradford can do the same, and arguably push the ball down field a bit better.
Here’s an interesting fact from Pro Football Focus: “Last season, Bradford played with the worst receiving corps in the league, a group that dropped 7.6 percent of his passes to lead the league. He missed all of 2014, and while there was some early-season rust, he was one of the top-graded quarterbacks during the second half of the season. On the year, he actually finished 12th in PFF quarterback grades, at 85.3, one spot ahead of 13th-place Bridgewater at 82.6.”
Spielman was indeed bold with this move, but the Vikings are built to go deep into the playoffs now. It’s not so much that they don’t trust Shaun Hill to win a couple of games, but I don’t think the front office viewed him as a 16 game starter and remaining healthy. Bradford has been bitten by the injury bug since joining the NFL, but he won’t have to throw as much with the Vikings. My only concern is that the Vikings run the most plays with 7-step drop backs and frequently use the play-action pass. Getting Bradford up to speed on the playbook will be a priority for the Vikings and we’ll more than likely see Hill split reps with Bradford during practices. Another thing to consider: Bridgewater may not be ready to go next season.
One major plus going for Bradford in Minnesota is that tight ends coach, Pat Shurmur, was Bradford’s offensive coordinator during his rookie campaign in 2010 with St.Louis and his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia last year. Although Shurmur doesn’t call the plays, I am guessing that Shurmur and Norv Turner can help Bradford with the playbook and the terminology at an accelerated rate. For me, this doesn’t stink of another Josh Freeman disaster.
One thing that the Vikings will miss with Teddy Bridgewater being out: mobility in and out of the pocket. Teddy Bridgewater has underrated wheels and elusiveness and the fact is Bradford just doesn’t match up with him there. I had the Vikings at 11-5 with Bridgewater as the QB, but I think they drop off a game to go 10-6, but still make the wildcard spot for the playoffs.
Take a deep breathe Vikings fans….it’s either going to be a really smooth or really rocky flight.