No team wants to get off to a slow start and have to dig themselves out of a hole, but this is especially important to Sam Bradford and the Minnesota Vikings. Why? Because Bradford and the injured Teddy Bridgewater have a lot of respect for one another, and it would be a shame to strain their relationship with a quarterback controversy.
Minnesota Vikings Possible Quarterback Controversy
Bradford did well last year in taking Bridgewater’s place, but struggled with a porous offensive line and a lack of dependable targets. He’s the kind of quarterback who needs that protection. He isn’t going to make plays on his feet or move around a lot to avoid the sack.
The Vikings made some great off-season moves, and if the first two preseason games are any indication, those moves paid off. In the game against the Seahawks, there was only one negative yardage play in 20 snaps, Bradford was not sacked on 11 passing attempts, and Dalvin Cook averaged 5.7 yards per carry. That was without starters tackle Riley Reiff and guard Alex Boone.
Bradford also seemed to have a masterful connection with Stefon Diggs. They connected three times on the first drive, and if it had not been for two key penalties the red zone the Vikings would have scored a touchdown instead of having to settle for a field goal.
These are all hopeful signs. It means that Mike Zimmer can be comfortable putting Bridgewater on the injured reserve list for at least the first six games. It’s best not to rush his return, but a poor performance on Bradford’s part might make that tempting. Even though Teddy is making the kind of physical comeback no one really expected, giving him longer to heal is still the best course long term.
When he returns to the lineup, there will be a moment of decision: if Bradford is playing well, there may be little reason to make a change mid-season. However, Bridgewater is beloved by his teammates. He’s a natural leader, and naturally many of the players want him back in the driver’s seat.
How will Bradford and the Vikings organization handle that? Will Bradford be content to take a back seat once more? The answer is maybe: one of the best ways to win over your teammates is to win, and if Bradford is doing that, he may have vital support from his peers. If the team is struggling, whether that is attributable to his play or not, putting Bridgewater back in the starting role will make a lot more sense.
Playing backup quarterbacks during preseason makes sense. For many, it is the most active reps they will get under center. Taylor Heinicke had a good game against the Seahawks and proved his worth as a backup. The team signed Mitch Leidner as another backup this week. Still, playing Bradford a little more will help the offense get into a rhythm, a vital thing going into the regular season.
If Bradford gets off to a good start, it gives the Vikings a lot more freedom when it comes to Bridgewater. Hopefully, this will keep any quarterback controversy from disrupting the chemistry the young team needs to develop early in the season.
If he doesn’t, the Vikings might be facing a quarterback controversy, one that hopefully does nothing to disrupt a promising group of talented players from coming together to form a winning franchise not only this season but for years to come.