Quotulatiousness

December 18, 2017

Cincinnati Bengals blown out by the Minnesota Vikings, 34-7

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Minnesota Vikings, having finished a tough set of road games, returned home to Minneapolis to face the Bengals with the NFC North title on the line. The Vikings got some much-needed reinforcement along the offensive line, as right tackle Mike Remmers and centre Pat Elflein were able to return after missing time. Tight end Kyle Rudolph was also active, although he didn’t see much action during the game. The very first play was a sack of Case Keenum by Geno Atkins, but after that the Bengals didn’t show a lot of life.

Other than the win itself to clinch the NFC North, the high point of the game for me was when Teddy Bridgewater came in during the fourth quarter to finish out the game. I’m not lying: tears. Sadly, he didn’t do well (unsurprising after so long out of the line-up), throwing an interception on his first passing attempt (which the Bengals eventually turned into their only points of the day) and having the receiver drop his second pass that would have extended a drive — oh, and losing rushing yards on those kneel-downs to end the game. Vikings twitter reacted as you’d expect:

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November 21, 2017

Keenum or Bridgewater?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

If there’s anything that sportscasters love, its a quarterback controversy, so Minnesota’s fascinating quarterback situation is providing lots of hot takes, but sturdily resists becoming an actual controversy on the team. The Vikings started the season with Sam Bradford at QB1, Case Keenum as his backup at QB2, and Kyle Sloter, a hot-shot youngster snapped up after a great preseason performance for Denver, as the developmental QB3. Teddy Bridgewater was still on the PUP list and nobody knew when or even if he’d be medically cleared to come back to the team, and if he did return, there was no assurance that he’d be able to resume his career right where he left off before the 2016 season.

Life comes at you fast, especially in football, as Sam Bradford appeared in the weekly injury report after his excellent opening game against the New Orleans Saints, and did not get back onto the field for several weeks. Keenum stepped up and did his best to hold things together until Bradford’s knee could heal. Bradford was back on the field for game 5 against the Chicago Bears, but it quickly became clear that he didn’t belong on the field, if only for his own safety. Keenum came on in relief and Bradford eventually was put on the injured reserve list.

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November 9, 2017

Fan reactions to the Vikings’ swap at quarterback

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Yesterday’s news that the Vikings were activating Teddy Bridgewater and placing Sam Bradford on injured reserve got lots of reaction from the fan bloggers as well as the pro sports writers in the Twin Cities. 1500ESPN‘s Matthew Coller provided some background on Bridgewater’s early development with the Vikings:

Last year, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he never saw himself having another quarterback other than Bridgewater.

The question comes up often: Why are Zimmer and the Vikings’ players so impressed with a quarterback who only threw 14 touchdowns in 2015?

The first reason is that they don’t grade players on touchdowns. It’s really a bad measure of QB play. In 2015, Bridgewater only threw 42 passes in the red zone, while Blake Bortles tossed 95 passes and was one of the league leaders in touchdowns. Nobody would say Bortles is better than Bridgewater. The Vikings were third in the league in rushing touchdowns in ’15 and seventh in Drive Scoring Percentage. Bridgewater was leading his team down the field, but Adrian Peterson was getting the touches when they were in scoring position.

The second reason: Coaches and teammates focus on the game tape (and winning) rather than the box score.

Before we look at some of the things that made Bridgewater so popular – outside of his personality – it should be noted that we can’t know until he plays whether the former first-round pick will be back to his old self or how long it will take him to trust his repaired knee. For some players, they never make a full recovery.

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November 8, 2017

Vikings activate Teddy Bridgewater, move Sam Bradford to injured reserve

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:03

One quarterback in, one out. That’s been the story for Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford over the last season. Bridgewater suffered a terrible injury just before the start of the 2016 season, and the team moved him to injured reserve for the year. Bradford was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, and was starting for the Vikings by week 2 of the season. This season, Bridgewater started the season on the PUP list, while Bradford had a career game to open the season against the New Orleans Saints. Bradford suffered what appeared to be a mild knee injury in the game, so Case Keenum got the start the following week. Bradford didn’t see the field again until the game against the Chicago Bears, where it became quickly apparent that his knee hadn’t fully recovered and he was mercifully benched for the second half, allowing Keenum to get the Vikings back into position to win the game and has been the starter since then.

Bridgewater was eligible to practice with the team after the sixth game of the season, and the team had a three week window to decide whether to put him back on the 53-man roster, or shut him down for the remainder of the year by moving him back onto injured reserve. Today was the final day for the Vikings to make that decision. In the meantime, Sam Bradford got arthroscopic surgery on his ailing knee yesterday and was looking at a minimum six-week recovery time, so it makes sense for the team to put him on the injured reserve list, where he could be brought back onto the roster if the Vikings make the playoffs (teams can bring up to two players back from IR after a minimum of eight weeks).

Teddy Bridgewater, according to all the media reports, has been looking good in practice and his team-mates have been quite enthusiastic to get him back, but he hasn’t played any football since August 2016 and it’s probably unreasonable to expect him to pick up where he left off at that point without at least a few weeks of re-familiarization and actual game reps. If he has no set-backs and looks comfortable on the field, he could take over for Keenum in a few weeks, or it might take longer and Keenum will be the starter for much of the second half of the season. Nobody knows until Bridgewater gets onto the field.

Teddy Bridgewater at Vikings training camp, 2014.
Photo by Matthew Deery via Wikipedia.

October 28, 2017

Case Keenum gets no respect PLUS rumblings from the Bridgewater Underground

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Poor Case Keenum. The Vikings’ backup quarterback has done just about everything you could ask of a backup in the NFL: he’s stepped in when Sam Bradford’s knee started acting up, and he’s kept the Vikings competitive in most of the games he’s played. Yet he still gets no respect, as vividly shown here in a photo caption in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Um, guys, That’d be Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, not Case Keenum. The lack of a red practice jersey should have been a dead give away.
(Screen cap from the Star Tribune)

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October 17, 2017

Teddy Bridgewater cleared to return to Vikings practice

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will return to team practice on Wednesday, fourteen months after his career seemed to be over due to catastrophic injury. The team has a three-week window to observe Bridgewater’s progress before they need to either add him to the roster or move him to the injured reserve list for the remainder of the season. Despite the fan enthusiasm, it’s unrealistic to assume that he would be able to step back into the starting role for at least a few weeks, and Case Keenum is doing a good job of keeping the Vikings afloat while Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater are unable to play.

During Bridgewater’s recovery time, Vikings Territory writer Jordan Reid made contact with him:

From a surprising follow back on Twitter, to actually reaching out to him about his progress just to see how he was doing. I can firmly tell you that Bridgewater is exactly the same type of person behind-the-scenes as he is in the public eye-view. He’s not only the quarterback of my favorite NFL team, but he’s now a personal friend and an athlete that means a lot to me outside of just football.

Many say I’m obsessed with Bridgewater, but that’s definitely not the case. Seeing his hard work, monthly progress and sending various encouraging messages during his injury journey helped me realize and have hope for an athlete that experiences trials and tribulations similar to me and you.

Many times, fans forget that athletes are people just like ourselves and get so trapped into just thinking about the football side of things. Seeing the type of individual he is outside of the public eye-view and experiencing first-hand what he went through the past 14 months has once again given me hope of an eventual return.

[…] Now knowing the type of person he is, the fourth-year quarterback is obviously not for everyone. He will never be the most physically gifted quarterback in the NFL. That’s not Teddy Bridgewater, but what he gives you is hope.

Hope meaning a lot things. No. 5 gives hope to a fanbase that’s never won a Superbowl, but suffered through crushing playoff losses and constant instability at quarterback. Yes, I know he’s only thrown 28 touchdown passes in 30 games, but no matter what it takes or what outsiders think of his traits, he just wants to win.

The one underlying quality that Bridgewater has had since his collegiate days at Lousiville and now as an NFL quarterback is leadership. It’s a trait that can not be taught or developed. As I occasionally say on Twitter, it is a trait that an athlete either possesses or they don’t. It can not be developed over time, but is rather something that they are born with.

From beating Florida in the 2014 Sugar Bowl to sideline jokes with his teammates, and even organizing summer workouts in the off-season with other players around the league, leadership is a quality that Bridgewater undoubtedly has. It is a trait that most successful signal-callers must have in order to instill belief in not only his teammates, but the organization and its fanbase as well.

Regardless of how you feel about Teddy Bridgewater, when he was under-center, the last glimpse we saw of him against the then San Diego Chargers was the most hopeful we all have been of a Vikings team in quite some time. Will he ever return to that status? We won’t know, but what we do know is that he is an exuberant individual that we all will be happy for if he ever gets to play the game that he loves once again.

October 16, 2017

Packers lose Aaron Rodgers to injury in 23-10 loss to the Vikings

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

With Aaron Rodgers under centre, the Green Bay Packers are a threat to any team in the league — without Rodgers, the Packers are just another team. Early in the game at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the Packers were transformed from top-tier threat to ordinary as Rodgers was injured and had to leave the game. Green Bay backup Brett Hundley was unable to get the team going consistently, and the injuries piled up as the game went on (it might have been quicker to list the un-injured players by the end of the fourth quarter – “Injured Packers were carted off the field as if the driver were getting paid by the body”). If Rodgers is out for an extended period, Green Bay is going to continue to struggle.

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September 21, 2017

The Vikings’ “quarterback curse”

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In the Star Tribune Jim Souhan recounts the long, sad saga of Minnesota’s quest for a franchise quarterback after Fran Tarkenton retired:

Vikings fans like to claim they are cursed by big-game losses, but losing in excruciating fashion isn’t a curse, it’s the nature of sport for all but a lucky few franchises.

If they want to claim a curse, they should cite their quarterback history, which features as many hospital gowns as game jerseys.

Sam Bradford’s knee isn’t just sore. It’s the aching juncture of an existential threat to this year’s team and the franchise’s near future.

Since Fran Tarkenton retired, the Vikings have been scrambling like Sir Francis to fill the position.

Some franchises can brag about multiple greats. Joe Montana and Steve Young. Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger.

The Vikings counter with Spergon Wynn and Christian Ponder.

[…]

The Vikings have won one playoff game in the past 13 seasons. And that came with a renegade Packer making a cameo.

The Vikings haven’t won a playoff game with a quarterback they drafted since Daunte Culpepper beat the Packers in the 2004 playoffs.

The past two quarterbacks drafted by the Vikings to play in a Super Bowl: Brad Johnson with the Buccaneers, and Rich Gannon with the Raiders.

Other than Culpepper, the Vikings haven’t won a playoff game with a quarterback they drafted since Wade Wilson beat the Saints in the 1987 playoffs.

And if greatness and Super Bowl championships are the goal, this may be the most damning piece of history of all for the Vikings:

They haven’t drafted a quarterback who would make the Hall of Fame since 1961.

The Vikings’ current roster features two potential franchise quarterbacks, Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. Both have knee injuries that threaten the team’s season and possibly their careers.

Either could theoretically be the starting quarterback at the end of this season and the beginning of next. But the team has to fear that neither will be able to recover well enough to be the players they are capable of being.

The last true franchise quarterback the Vikings employed, Culpepper, also had his career path ruined by a knee injury.

July 28, 2017

Vikings training camp begins

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

While the rookies and some recent free agents reported to camp on Sunday, the bulk of the team and most of the veterans didn’t have to report until Wednesday afternoon. The theory to this was to build on the OTA and rookie mini-camp experiences for the younger players, and those new to the Vikings organization this season, before the full team practice sessions began. The team is holding their final training camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato after 52 years, and next year’s training camp will be held in their new team facilities in Eagan, MN.

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May 25, 2017

Teddy Bridgewater returns to Vikings OTAs, sparking more questions

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

To the surprise and delight of many Vikings fans, the team posted a short video to their social media accounts on Tuesday afternoon, showing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater taking part in some passing drills at the Vikings’ first organized team activity session at Winter Park:

For the record, count me among the delighted, as I’ve been a Bridgewater fan since he was drafted by the team at the end of the first round in 2014. I don’t dislike Sam Bradford, and I’m grateful the team was able to trade for him, but I hope Bridgewater fully recovers from his injury and is able to return to the starting role at some point (preferably sooner rather than later).

1500ESPN’s Judd Zulgad wonders what we’re expected to take away from the clip:

What type of message are the Vikings attempting to convey?

That’s impossible to tell because the video is only accompanied with dramatic music. There also are three photos of Bridgewater going through practice that were posted on the Vikings’ web site and a brief recap provides no quotes from Bridgewater or anyone else involved with the organization.

The Vikings’ will go through another OTA workout on Wednesday, although unlike with Tuesday’s session, the media will be allowed in for this one. Zimmer, who is taking time off and returned to his Kentucky home after undergoing an eighth surgery on his eye last week, will not be present.

This means offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will be in charge of answering the many Bridgewater-related questions that are sure to be asked.

There’s no guarantee there will be any answers provided considering the Vikings’ football operations department and their social media folks have very different agendas. The former wants to win football games and likes to keep information in-house, while the latter is after web hits.

There’s no doubt those hits were numerous on Tuesday. As for how much we should read into what this video means about Bridgewater’s recovery? That is likely to remain a mystery, at least to those outside of Winter Park.

At Wednesday’s second OTA practice, general manager Rick Spielman discussed Bridgewater’s progress:

Spielman said it was “very encouraging” to see Bridgewater, who has been throwing to receivers here for at least a few weeks, take the next step by tossing passes at an official organized practice, though he stressed that Bridgewater is still not technically practicing with the team. “Part of the rehab process you saw yesterday was that he is able to drop back and throw the ball,” Spielman said. “He is not cleared for practice, so I want to make that perfectly clear. But he’s working extremely hard in his rehab and we’ll continue to monitor his progress.”

Spielman, as he has done all offseason, declined to share whether the 24-year-old is ahead of schedule in his recovery, only saying, “He’s very limited in what he’s able to do at this point, but it’s progress.” He would not say if Bridgewater might be cleared by the start of training camp, which kicks off a couple of months from now.

Later in the day, it was announced that Bridgewater has been given medical clearance to move on to his next phase of rehabilitation:

April 27, 2017

Report that the Vikings will not pick up Teddy Bridgewater’s fifth-year option

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

In the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Chris Tomasson says it’s unlikely that the Vikings will pick up the fifth-year option on Teddy Bridgewater’s rookie deal, potentially ending his Vikings tenure at the end of the 2017 season:

The Vikings are unlikely to pick up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s fifth-year option for 2018, but that wouldn’t necessarily mean 2017 would be his final season with the team.

ESPN first reported Wednesday that the Vikings are not expected to invoke the $12.198 million option by Tuesday’s deadline. Bridgewater suffered a serious knee injury last August that has put his 2017 season is in jeopardy.

“The injury guarantee makes it tough to do,” a source told ESPN.

If Minnesota declines the option, Bridgewater still could end up under contract for 2018. OvertheCap.com and NFL Media reported that if Bridgewater is on the physically unable to perform list throughout 2017, he would remain on the books for 2018 at his same base salary of $1.354 million.

The sides could reach a deal at some point in which Bridgewater’s 2018 contract figure is somewhere between $1.354 million and $12.198 million.

Bridgewater has been with the Vikings since offseason workouts began April 17 at Winter Park. “He’s been in here working as hard as anyone, fighting his way back,” said general manager Rick Spielman.

Declining Bridgewater’s option would indicate that Minnesota regards Sam Bradford most likely its quarterback of the future. If so, Bradford, who will make $18 million in the final year of his deal in 2017, could be in line for an extension before the season starts.

Bradford said Tuesday he doesn’t know of any contract talks between his agent and the Vikings. Spielman said he won’t comment on any player contracts.

For the record, while I like and appreciate Sam Bradford, I’m a fully paid-up member of the Bridgewater Underground, and I really hope that Teddy will fully recover and be able to resume his career sooner rather than later. Head coach Mike Zimmer was quoted as saying “I want Teddy, I don’t want him going somewhere else.” Well spoken, coach!

At the Daily Norseman, Christopher Gates explains that there’s still a chance that Teddy’s option would be picked up … but in 2018, not this year:

Basically, when a contract is “tolled,” it rolls over into the next season. This means that, if Bridgewater spends the entire 2017 season on the Physically Unable to Perform list … and he’d almost undoubtedly start Training Camp there, at the very least … then Teddy Bridgewater would still have one year on his contract with the Vikings when we reach the start of the 2018 league year. The Vikings would then have another chance to decide whether they wanted to pick up his fifth-year option (which would actually then be a sixth-year option) at the price of around $12 million.

Perhaps this is the plan with Bridgewater, then … to have him inactive for the entire 2017 season so that the team can make a decision on him vs. Sam Bradford at the start of the 2018 league year. There’s no point in rushing him back before he’s ready, and if another year off for #5 will ensure the best chance for him to come back and lead the Vikings’ offense, then I absolutely wouldn’t be against that sort of thing at all.

But this new information from Ian Rapoport does help to put today’s earlier news in a bit of a different perspective.

March 29, 2017

Teddy Bridgewater’s recovery appears to be ahead of expectations

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The darkest moment of the 2016 Vikings season was the severe knee injury sustained by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater just before the start of the regular season. While initial reports were confused, it appeared that the injury was potentially life-threatening and that Teddy might never play again. Yesterday, Teddy posted a short video to his Instagram account:

At the Daily Norseman, Christopher Gates reacts:

Obviously, he doesn’t look quite the same at this point, but again … he’s seven months removed from his leg almost falling off, so it’s still pretty impressive. We’ve seen Bridgewater doing agility drills in videos previously, but this is the first time we’ve seen him doing what Mike Zimmer might refer to as “football-related activities.”

We know that Bridgewater has a long way to go (and, if he’s attempting to get back for 2017, a short time to get there). But after what he meant to the team in his first two seasons and how many Vikings fans immediately took to him since he was drafted, it’s hard not to be happy as heck to see this.

Hopefully we’ll have more … and continuing positive … updates on Teddy Bridgewater’s progress.

The Star Tribune reported that Vikings general manager Rick Spielman made a surprising comment on Teddy’s recovery (unrelated to yesterday’s video):

How is Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s recovery from a devastating knee injury coming along? This might be a clue: GM Rick Spielman is making a surprising link between Bridgewater’s recovery work and that of former Viking Adrian Peterson during his now legendary comeback. Spielman, at the NFL owners’ meetings, said he watched quarterback Bridgewater last week and was impressed with what he saw. “I know he’s been working extremely hard. As far as a timeline, I know he was in last week and continuing to rehab with our medical staff and [head athletic trainer] Eric Sugarman,” Spielman said. “I can tell you there is no one I’ve seen other than Adrian [Peterson] when he came back from his ACL that has worked as hard as Teddy is working. And this is more significant than just an ACL. “But Teddy is incredible with the attitude and work ethic that he’s put in to get back on the field as quickly as we can.”

Update, 30 March: The infamous Bridgewater Underground is apparently active again!

And when the ‘he’ll never play again’ propaganda reached our shores, more left, and soon we were down to a scant few.

But cracks began to show in The Bradford Army. Small at first, but they grew larger, and more obvious. Obvious to the point they could no longer be ignored if you knew what you were looking for. It took us awhile to realize we weren’t dead, but hope soon returned to us in the form of Instagram and Snap Chat, and hope is a powerful aphrodisiac. Soon, people began returning, and our movement began to rebuild. Slowly at first, but you could feel momentum returning to our cause.

We’ve sent out some cryptic messages, and with each one, more partisans flock back to us. Our numbers grow by the day, and one thing seems clear — we’re coming home. And when we do, we will be ready to reclaim our throne. But we also know that with that, there are dark clouds on the horizon, darker than any dastardly coup.

Which is why these days, my thoughts consume me and sleep escapes me. With each second, the hour draws near, and with each hour, one thing feels more and more certain.

War looms, like Mordor once loomed over Middle Earth. A storm gathers, and it feels like a storm that can’t be avoided. The Bridgewater Underground wants peace, but the Bradford Army is entrenched, ready to defend their leader to the last.

But make no mistake, we are returning home. Home to what is rightfully ours. Maybe not today, maybe not next month, but we will return. We desire a peaceful transition, and we hope no Internet message board blood will be shed. But if there is to be war, then let there be war. It will be uglier than the Ponder-Webb Quarterback Message Board Wars of aught 12 and aught 13, but we are steeled in our resolve.

We are the Bridgewater Underground, and we are coming home.

October 31, 2016

It’s called “Next Man Up”

Filed under: Football, Health — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 15:44

In the current edition of ESPN Magazine, Tim Keown talks to members of the Minnesota Vikings about what happened to Teddy Bridgewater. It’s hard reading:

THE MEN WHO agree to talk about what happened do so reluctantly. Their eyes invariably drift to the spot in question: the grass practice field, somewhere near the 30-yard line, right hash. It happened with the offense heading north, 22 men on the field, no contact allowed.

They won’t talk about what the injury looked like, out of respect. These are men who long ago came to terms with the inhumanity of their game. They laugh about concussions and broken bones as a defense mechanism, the way an electrician might laugh with his buddies about getting a jolt from a faulty circuit. Occupational hazard.

But this is different. They close their eyes and wince, the image flashing in their minds. They shake their heads reflexively, as if they can dislodge the memory and evict it from their brains. They watched Teddy Bridgewater go down on that field on Aug. 30, his left leg separating at the knee, during the first minutes of a Vikings preseason practice. Every time they think about it, every time they stand near this field and close their eyes, they see it again.

[…]

Minnesota’s coach, Mike Zimmer, canceled practice. NFL teams never cancel practice. The game never stops. In a way, it’s a repudiation of Next Man Up to send everyone home — an acknowledgment that some injuries transcend the transactional. Sometimes, even in such a brutal world, circumstances dictate that the next man can’t reasonably be expected to step up, at least not right away.

“It happened at the beginning of practice, and obviously Coach made the right call to cancel,” Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner says. “We weren’t going to get anything done that day.”

At his first news conference after the injury, a still-shaken Zimmer said his team would mourn for a day and move on. If anything, this meant his players needed to recommit to the mission. “No one is going to feel sorry for us, or cry,” he said. “I’m not going to feel sorry for us either.” He said he’d spoken with his mentor, Bill Parcells, for advice on how to deal with the trauma his team experienced. He said he spoke with his deceased father “in spirit.” As he continued, the coach in him drained from his eyes. He transformed from functionary to human being, and when he was asked a question about grieving — a question that somehow seemed utterly appropriate — Zimmer paused and looked down. After a deep breath, he looked to the sky as his lower lip quivered. “My wife passed away seven years ago,” he said. “It was a tough day. The sun came up the next day, the world kept spinning, people kept going to work. That’s what we’re going to do.”

In my early twenties, I had a knee injury — nowhere near as serious as Teddy’s — and to this day I can’t watch replays of leg injuries that the networks seem to always want to show as often as they can. It doesn’t just upset me, I get nauseous and have to look away. Later in the article, Keown mentions that there are no images available of Bridgewater during that practice, despite the fact that NFL teams film just about everything that happens at team events. I’m very grateful that those images are being kept from the public.

September 4, 2016

Vikings trade for quarterback Sam Bradford

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:58

I was busy all day yesterday, so the uproar in the Vikings fanbase over the trade with Philadelphia for Sam Bradford was just background noise for me. I have to say I’m happy the Vikings didn’t bring in some of the other widely discussed options at quarterback, although the team clearly paid a high desperation premium (a first round pick in 2017 and a conditional fourth in 2018 that might escalate all the way to a second if the Vikings win the Super Bowl). I liked Sam Bradford when he was drafted, and I think he’d be in the discussion as a top-five quarterback except for his injuries.

Sam Bradford stats

As part of the trade, the Eagles have agreed to pay the bulk of Bradford’s 2016 salary, leaving the Vikings to cover less than half (I assume a contract renegotiation is in the cards for 2017, unless Bradford is able to stay healthy and shine on the field). Bradford is in a great situation for a quarterback with a quickly improving wide receiving corps, the best running back in football and a potentially top-five defence … but notice that I didn’t say anything about the offensive line he’ll be working behind. That’s where the “injury prone” tag meets the gambling odds.

Teddy Bridgewater’s recovery time may stretch into the 2017 regular season, so having Bradford available for the next two years is just plain common sense. If Teddy comes back as strong as he was before the injury, we’ll have a heck of a passing threat to offer, but there’s also the possibility that Bridgewater won’t be quite the player he was and if that’s the case, then Bradford is more than just an insurance policy (though it pains me greatly to even think that Teddy won’t be back as good as ever). That said, anything positive in all of this requires Bradford to stay upright and healthy: if he loses even a few games to injury, we’re back to where we were before the trade.

From Tom Pelissero’s column on the trade in USA Today:

The Vikings had flexibility, with extra third- and fourth-round picks next year from past trades. They have a solid young talent base, having made nine first-round picks in the past five drafts, all of them still on the team. They have an offense built around 31-year-old halfback Adrian Peterson, who doesn’t have time on his side. And they had an unexpected opportunity to make a big upgrade from Bridgewater’s presumed replacement, Shaun Hill, a 36-year-old career backup who’d be serviceable for a game or two, but has never started more than 10 games in a season and lacks the arm to push the ball downfield.

Bradford, 28, has famously battled injuries throughout his career but is healthy now and performed well in the preseason. One of his old coaches in St. Louis and Philadelphia, Pat Shurmur, is now the Vikings’ tight ends coach. And the Vikings felt Bradford would be a natural fit for Norv Turner’s Air Coryell derivative offense.

Another factor the Vikings liked: Bradford is under contract through 2017, giving them options next season if Bridgewater isn’t recovered from upcoming surgery for a dislocated left knee, torn anterior cruciate ligament and other structural damage.

The Eagles gave Bradford an $11 million signing bonus, so the Vikings are only responsible for his $7 million base salary this season. They’ll face a decision in March, when Bradford is due a $4 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year. His salary for 2017 is $13 million, with $4 million of it fully guaranteed and another $4 million for injury. There’s also a $1 million escalator if Bradford plays 90% of the snaps this season and $2.25 million in incentives available each year.

That’s all pretty reasonable if Bradford can plug the hole at the most important position on an ascending team, driven by Peterson and an excellent young defense, that’s moving into a new $1.1 billion stadium this season. The Vikings are betting a first-round pick and then some that Bradford can do it.

The blockbuster trade temporarily swamped news of the final roster, as you’d expect. I made my predictions here and I wasn’t too far off:

  • Tackle Jeremiah Sirles. I’d listed him as a likely cut, but he made the final 53. I don’t think he’s got a strong grip on the spot if the Vikings select someone waived by another team.
  • Quarterback Joel Stave. If the team hadn’t traded for Bradford, Stave was the only healthy quarterback on the roster after Hill. After the trade, Stave became expendable and will be eligible for the practice squad.
  • Defensive tackles Kenrick Ellis and Toby Johnson didn’t make the roster, which I found surprising, but my guesses were biased a bit toward the defence. Johnson is PS-eligible, unless he’s picked up by another team on the waiver wire.
  • Linebacker Kentrell Brothers made the final roster, and I’d not seen enough from him in the preseason games to expect him to do more than make the PS. I guess the coaches didn’t want to thin out the linebackers too much this year (or Brothers may be sacrificed for a waiver-wire pickup).
  • I’d listed cornerback Jabari Price and safety Michael Griffin as likely cuts, and both were placed on IR.

Those player who were waived are subject to being selected by other teams before they can be signed to practice squads. Teams have waiver wire priority in the same order as the 2016 draft for the first three weeks of the regular season. I’ve noted a couple of players who might lose out if the Vikings get anyone off the waiver wire, but the team is now mostly set to start the season.

August 31, 2016

Teddy Bridgewater’s 2016 season is already over

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:58

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:

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