Sunday, September 18th, 2016, the Minnesota Vikings are scheduled to host their division rivals, the Green Bay Packers, making it the first regular season NFL game at the brand new billion dollar, U.S. Bank Stadium. Tensions were high in the land of the Purple People Eaters; they lost their starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a serious knee injury during a preseason practice. They were 1-0 and they were about to send the newly signed Sam Bradford onto the field start in a colossal game in front of the whole nation during prime time.
Eager spectators couldn’t wait to see how Bradford would fair in his first game with the Vikings, in a completely different offense than he was used to. Before the game, an article about Sam Bradford’s first start going horribly wrong, could almost write itself. However, after watching the whole game and paying close attention to every move Sam Bradford made, I was thoroughly impressed. All things considered, Sam played a great game and did his part to help his Vikings squeak out the victory in a crucial divisional game.
If you take a look at his stat line after the game, you will see that Bradford went 22/31 for 286, completing 71% of his passes, for two touchdowns and no interceptions, earning him a stellar 121.2 QB rating. Yes, his total yardage wasn’t anything to write home about; however, he looked great throwing the deep ball and on the little sideline touch passes all while keeping himself out of trouble. The Vikings offensive line is not great, in fact, they’re pretty bad. They were able to hold up just long enough, but Bradford did take quite a few big hits, one of which seemed to leave his non-throwing hand banged up. Before leaving the game with a knee injury, the Vikings’ RB Adrian Peterson carried the ball 12 times for a measly 19 yards, averaging 1.5 yards per carry. We all know how good AP is, so let that stat line reflect just how poor the Vikings’ offensive line really is. Even with that bad O-line, Bradford still managed to get it done while still learning a new offensive system. The Vikings defense did help him out quite considerable though. They sacked QB Aaron Rodgers five times and held him to 213 yards while forcing three turnovers against the opposing offense.
Sam Bradford endured an offseason filled with drama and instability with his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles made is clear this offseason and during the draft that they were looking to re-vamp the team and were interested in drafting a promising QB (Carson Wentz) so that it could provide them with a player to build their team around. Bradford did not take too kindly to all of this, which led to him holding out from the team for a period of time after finally reporting. However, after hearing the news about Teddy Bridgewater, the Eagles and Vikings were able to work out a trade, which saw Sam Bradford go to the Vikings in exchange for a first round pick in the 2017 Draft and a fourth round pick in the 2018 Draft.
Personally, I’m thrilled for Sam Bradford. He was dealing with an unpleasant situation in Philly, a situation that would probably have gotten worse over time, and has now. He has found a new home, surrounded by a very skilled team. Bradford has had his share of unfortunate experiences in the NFL. He suffered two season-ending knee injuries and has since been looked at as this injury prone and unskilled QB. It’s now time for him to put all that behind him and focus on this season with the Vikings. Surely we don’t know what’ll happen after this season concludes, however, this Vikings team has a lot of potential, and if they can get their offensive line issues sorted out and establish some sort of rushing attack with the absence of Adrian Peterson, they will be successful this season, especially with that defense. Look for them to try and get rookie WR Laquon Treadwell involved in the offense in the coming weeks. Treadwell and Diggs would make for a serious 1-2 receiving tandem and would really expand Minnesota’s offensive attack.