The team confirmed that Teddy Bridgewater’s injury is a full ACL tear and a dislocated left knee, so he has no chance to return to the football field this season. Fortunately, there was no nerve or arterial damage so Teddy is expected to make a full recovery. The estimated recovery time for injuries like this ranges from nine months to a year, so the Vikings have to expect that he won’t be able to play until perhaps early in the 2017 season, so the team will have to ensure that they have enough quarterback depth on the roster to cover a month or more next year.
Tom Pelissero wrote this for USA Today:
As the Minnesota Vikings awaited test results to confirm what they already knew, that a gruesome knee injury had ended quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s third season before it began, coach Mike Zimmer promised that his team wouldn’t spend long mourning.
“We’re not going to stick our heads in the sand,” Zimmer told reporters shortly after Bridgewater crumpled to the ground in Tuesday’s practice, untouched, leaving teammates to curse and pray before an ambulance took him away. “We’re going to figure out a way. Everyone can count us out if they want, but I think that’d be the wrong thing to do.”
Are the Vikings good enough as a team to carry out their Super Bowl hopes with 36-year-old journeyman Shaun Hill in Bridgewater’s place?
There may be opportunities to add an experienced quarterback as final cuts approach Saturday, though probably not an immediate starter. The Vikings have another young QB they like, a first-year pro from Old Dominion named Taylor Heinicke, on the active/non-football injury list, and he could get a look down the line if Hill stumbles. But that’s in the distance for now.
Zimmer made clear his chief focus now is preventing players from believing their season just went down with their quarterback.
“Hey, my wife passed away seven years ago, right? It was a tough day,” Zimmer said. “The sun came up the next day. The world kept spinning. People kept going to work. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
Sports writers have been imagining scenarios for the Vikings to follow, including outright fantasies like the Chicago Bears trading their backup quarterback within the division for a price the Vikings would be willing to pay. Quarterbacks currently unemployed or about to be (the next round of roster cuts are due on Saturday) are proffered as the solution, but the problem is really that the supply of quality starting quarterbacks is much less than the demand. There are 32 starting quarterback jobs and 32 backup jobs, but there are not enough qualified players to fill the starting roles, much less the backups. Minnesota knows this all too well, having had mediocre quarterbacks galore on the roster over the last few decades. Aside from Brett Favre’s last great season, Randall Cunningham’s last great season, and the too-few glory years of Daunte Culpepper, the Vikings have not had even an above-average quarterback in a quarter century. Teddy Bridgewater was the answer to the team’s prayers. Until yesterday. And he still might be … in 2017 and beyond. But for this year, it’s Shaun Hill’s job to lose (at least until Taylor Heinicke gets off the NFI list or Fran Tarkenton gets a full-body rejuvenation).
Hill was brought in to be a mentor to Teddy, and perhaps play a game or two in injury relief. At his age, neither he nor the team was expecting him to play a full season as the starter and it’s unreasonable to expect he’ll be able to do that (unless the improvements to the offensive line really have been nothing short of miraculous). Heinicke won’t be cleared to return to practice for at least a few more weeks, and while he showed great things in the 2015 preseason, he’s never thrown a pass in a regular season NFL game and will need several weeks to get back into shape. Andrew Krammer reported that Heinicke is a few weeks ahead of schedule on his recovery and could be back as soon as three weeks from now.
Joel Stave is the only other quarterback still on the roster and was probably not going to make the 53-man roster. Now he’ll be the number two until Heinicke is healthy and ready to play. Brad Sorenson was briefly on the roster until he was released yesterday, and some sources indicate he’s on his way back to Minnesota to re-sign with the team once he clears waivers. But Sorenson is also inexperienced and can’t be the answer to the Vikings’ quarterbacking woes.
As for all the other available quarterbacks right now, Arif Hasan puts it best in his response to Adam Caplan’s suggestions: