Lets take it back all the way to the early 2000’s for a brief second. Back when the Vikings had one of the most exciting offenses of all time with the great Cris Carter, Randy Moss, and a young Quarterback named Daunte Culpepper. But every Vikings fan knows, we cant have nice things very long. They would soon lose Carter in 2002 and Moss in 2005. But it was going to be ok, we still had OUR guy. Culpepper had 2 great seasons in 03′ and 04′. He was going to be the new face of the franchise, right? Wrong. Despite his struggles early and a 2-5 start, fans still had faith in him. We would say things like “he needs some help, he doesn’t have any receivers” and in our minds he was OUR guy. Except the following week, he would take a shot to the knees, tearing his anterior, medial, and posterior cruciate ligaments. And his career would never be the same. From that point till 2014, the Vikings had gone through 13 different quarterbacks. Every single one of them not named Favre let us down.
Fast forward to the 2014 offseason, when everything changed. The Vikings had gotten a new Head coach, Mike Zimmer, who everyone knew would improve the defense. But the fans had one question to be answered, who was going to be our quarterback? Not Matt Cassel, please no…The 2014 draft came, and it seemed as if the Vikings would take their chances on a later round guy after drafting Anthony Barr in the first round. But just after fans are ready to turn off their TV’s after the patriots made their selection with the 32nd pick, a sign flashed across the screen, “TRADE”. The Vikings had traded back into the 1st round, and chose Teddy Bridgewater. Just like that, we were saved, We had a future face of the franchise once again. We had something to look forward to again. All offseason the hype around Teddy grew, fans were anxious to see him. The preseason came, and they got their first real look. It was a brief tease, because Cassel would remain the starter. The season would start, and every fan was waiting for Teddy to get his first shot. Week 3 against the saints, Cassel would take a shot that would break his foot. Every fan held their breathe when we realized what was happening. It was time for TEDDY. On September 28th, he got his first start and he came out firing. After throwing for 317 yards and leading the charge over the Falcons in a 41-28 victory, WE WERE SAVED. This was it, this was finally OUR guy. The season went on and fans got more excited with every drop back. There were struggles at times, but it was expected because he was just a rookie, he was still OUR guy. Although they finished 7-9, we had something to look forward to.
Then the 2015 season came. After starting 2-2, He lead us to 5 straight wins, before the Packers came to TCF, and beat us down. Entering week 17, we were sitting at 10-5, getting ready to go to Lambeau field to face those very same packers for the Division. He had a rough game in which he only threw for 99 yards and 1 interception, but it didn’t matter because we won and he was OUR guy. Then came the playoffs, one of the coldest playoff games ever recorded. He struggled most of the game, and all 9 of the Vikings points came from Mr Automatic (at the time) Blair Walsh’s foot, which was the warmest thing in Minnesota at the time. But Here comes Teddy, down 10-9 with 1:42 remaining in the game. He strings together a few plays to get the Vikings all the way down to Seattle’s 9 yard line with 26 seconds remaining….and the rest was history. Wide left, Wide freaking left.
2016 offseason, Fans spent the time recovering. But guess what this was it, this was the year OUR guy was suppose to take the next step. The year Norv Turner was going to take the reins off of him and turn him loose. This was the year the Vikings go back indoors, into their new State of the art stadium. Fans had everything to look forward to. The preseason came, and OUR guy balled out. It was if Norv cut him loose and he was reborn. He went 18/25 253 yards and 2 touchdowns and finished with a passer rating of 141.5. We had everything in front of us ready for the taking….Until we had nothing.
August 30th 2016,
“103-123 to assist on a medical, 9520 Viking Dr, someone will meet you there, we got a player down on the field with a dislocated knee”. The news spread like wild fire, every single Viking fan across the worlds stomach churned, it was as if they found out their best friend had died. I personally sat at work completely stuck. What the F*** just happened. Just like that all hope was gone, the season was over. Then it turned into screw the season, is Teddy going to be ok? But we all knew with this team the Viking couldn’t roll over on the season with less then two weeks to go. But what could they do? We saw the list of names for suitors that came out and went back into depression. None of them were going to be good enough, their not OUR guy.
September 3rd 2016,
“The Minnesota Vikings trade a 2017 first round pick, and a conditional 2018 pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Quarterback Sam Bradford”. At this very moment, we were all confused. They did what? They gave up what? For who? Are you kidding me. Why would they do that, Teddy will be back. We were going through every single stage of grief at once. But I Can only Imagine what this moment was like for Bradford. Who himself had quite a few tough Breaks.
Lets take it back to 2010 for a second, After coming off a 1-15 season, The Rams select Sam Bradford with the 1st pick of the 2010 NFL draft. Similar to Bridgewater, would lead his team to a record of 7-9, and was awarded Offensive Rookie of the Year. His Sophomore year, he had his first tough break, with a severe ankle sprain that resulted in him missing 5 games. 2012 Bradford had a pretty good year resulting in 21 TDs and 13 INTs, but again a 7-8-1 record, 2013 he started off RED HOT throwing for 14 TDs and 4 INTs through 6 weeks, poised for his best season yet and then, bam bad break number 2, he tore his left ACL in week 7 Vs the panthers. 2014 Presesaon he comes out lighting it up and bam, reinjures the acl in preseason week 3, bad break number 3.
See Sam is no stranger to tough luck, in his 7 years in the NFL, the 6 season he actually stepped foot on the field he went through 6 different offensive coordinator changes, 4 head coaching changes, and 3 teams. Absolutely no stability. He was poised to be the starting quarterback for the eagles and build on his prior seasons success, Then the Eagles draft Carson Wentz and everything becomes cloudy, yes he was still the starter but what about his future. He knew he was playing the 2016 season for a future contract with another team and was poised to do it up until 9 days before the season started. And just like us, he too, thought “What the F*** just happened”.
Every fan was confused, as was Sam, as was Teddy. But with the season days away, there was no time to waste, Bradford had to get ready, After losing Sharrif Floyd to IR and after seeing the Shawn Hill play Quarterback week 1, fans were ready to see him. Week 2, Home opener in the New Stadium against The GREEN BAY PACKERS. What a stage. This was suppose to be OUR guy Teddy’s stage. Bradford’s been on the team 9 days, there is no way he can pull this off. Peterson would go down and He would go 22/31 a 71% completion percentage, 286 yards, and 2 touchdowns. A passer rating of 121.2. He stood in the pocket and got rocked 9 brutal times. But we would walk away with a 14-17 win. We had hope again.
The truth was, what he did that night was pretty amazing. I myself was in awe, but their was no doubt in my mind Teddy could have won that game too. Week 3 came, Matt Kalil went to IR, and it was the Panthers on the road, TJ Clemmings started and we held our breathes, RIP Sam. But he stood in there took the punishment. Bradford finished with a decent game, finishing 18-28 for 171 yards and a touchdown, but it was the Vikings defense and special teams that went on to win the game, Once again, “eh Teddy could have won that game”
Week 4 against the Giants came, and The Vikings dominated the majority of the game, Rhodes shut down Odell Beckham Jr. and Bradford spread the ball out to everybody. He finished 26/36 262 yards 1 TD and a passer rating of 101.9. However the Vikings lost Andre Smith. I personally felt sick to my stomach, there was no way Sam was going to survive the season. And with the Vikings out of cap space, they would have to work a miracle.
Week 5 against Houston was like watching Bradford create art. He was calm, Sat back in the pocket and dropped dimes. He was only sacked twice but still took punishment as we dominated the Texans 31-13. Sam finished 22/30 271 yards 2 TDS and 123.1 passer rating.
Week 6 will forever be known as “the BYE” We were on top of the world, Vikings ranked number one in the power rankings. Life was good, thoughts of Teddy slowly took a back seat while we lived in the moment. You couldn’t tell us anything. But injuries were piling up, guys were playing banged up, 5 starters on IR, Teddy, Peterson, Smith, Kalil and Floyd. The Vikings worked a financial miracle and Signed tackle Jake Long.
Week 7 Sams return to Philly, was rough to say the least. The eagles defense looked like the Vikings did in previous weeks. They scored on a 98 yard kick return, got an INT and a fumble. Sam took 6 sacks, hit 19 times and finished 21/41 224 yards 1TD 1INT. But it was ok we were 5-1. But the line problems became very evident.
Week 8 against Chicago, was rough start to finish, Bradford would drop back, take 2 steps and get crushed, the run game was non existent, and we were knocked back down to reality. As much as the back to back losses hurt. It was this game that I started to respect Bradford’s toughness. It simply wasn’t his fault, everything around him was collapsing. Behind closed doors, problems were brewing. The Vikings needed to make adjustments to their offense to keep Bradford upright, and things weren’t going well between the staff. But we had no idea. Norv Turner would resign, and by week 8 we were back to “what the F*** just happened”
Week 9 against the Lions, The Vikings were without Alex Boone, and we saw a completely different gameplan. The Vikings would dink and dunk their way down the field, Bradford finished 31/37 224 yards 1 INT but ZERO sacks. It was evident that the new gameplan was to keep Bradford upright at the cost of production. But just like that Thanksgiving was ruined and the 3 game losing streak went on.
Week 10 against the Redskins, Bradford had one of his better games finishing with 307 yards and 2 TDs and a 104.9 passer rating. Down 20-26 with 2 minutes left, it seemed as if Bradford was going to drive down the field to win the game. But on the 26 yard line, Jake Long took an awkward hit, tearing his ACL, and Bradford would get sacked Twice and hit 4 times on the final 6 plays. Just like that, all hope was pretty much lost. At this point the Vikings had more players on IR than games played.
Week 11 against the Cardinals, It was clear how decimated the line had become. The game plan was nothing but 1-3 step drops and to get the ball out of Bradford’s hands as soon as possible. He finished 20/28 169 yards and a TD with a passer rating of 98.7. But it was Rhodes 100 yards INT return and Patterson’s 104 yard Kickoff return, that elevated us past the Cardinals. What had we become offensively…
Week 12 Against the Lions, as if the season couldn’t get any worse, Joe Berger went down with a concussion. The Vikings had now used a total of 8 different lineups across the offensive line. The run game was non existent, and Bradford struggled to stay alive. He finished 31/37 224 yards and a game losing INT with 30 seconds remaining.
Week 13 Thursday Night against the Cowboys, what a horrible way to lose a game, a thielen muffed punt, and 3 Shanked punts by Locke hurt the Vikings bad. Bradford took some serious hits, and would finish 32/45 247 yards and a TD a rating of 91.6. The Vikings fought for every single yard, they wanted to win for Zimmer, but the offense was just so decimated at this point. It hurt to watch. I found myself counting the time Sam had to throw over and over again. One..Two..Hit. The most frustrating thing I had ever seen.
Week 14 against the Jaguars, Sam finished 24/34 292 yards a TD and a rating of 106.5. The main thing was he wasn’t taking sacks, he was getting the ball out quickly. We pulled this one off and had just enough hope with 3 games to go, we were still somehow in playoff contention.
Week 15 against the Colts was pathetic…The offense, the defense, special teams…no one showed up. Andrew Luck tore us a new one, and we all knew at this point our playoff hopes were done. Bradford finished 32/42 for 291 yards and a INT 84.5 rating.
Week 16 against the Packers, the game Newman blew off Zimmer’s game plan, and Jordy blew the doors off the game early. But so did Bradford and Thielen. Bradford finished 34/50 382 yards and 3 TDs with a rating of 110.6. Thielen finished 12-202-2 tds. and just like that, our season was over.
Week 17 against the Bears 25/33 250 yds 3 TDs 1 INT 114.5, of course we would win a meaningless game, but it gave us a little bit of hope. We go to see some Rashod Hill and Some Terrence Newman at Safety. Hill was solid and kept Sam upright all game, and for the first time since week 5, we caught glimpse of what our offense was suppose to be.
Talk about a roller coaster of a season, from the loss of Teddy, to the loss of Sharrif, Peterson, Kalil, Smith, Long, Berger, Fusco, Boone, and Tom Johnson. Not to mention the countless injuries that resulted in the loss of a game or two. The loss of Norv Turner, The loss of Zimmer’s eye, 11 different offensive line rotations, we’ve just never seen anything like it. And in the midst of all this madness and an incredibly disappointing season, was Sam Bradford. Who’s shot at redemption crumbled with the team that crumbled beneath him. Say what you will about him, Sam fought his A** off.
Re watching the season really shows the evolution of the offense. As the season progressed Bradford’s average throws got shorter as the injuries across the line piled up. He was sacked 37 times, Took 32 hits, hurried 130 times, and was pressured a total of 198 times. Yes my friends, PFF had us ranked as the 32nd offensive line last year, the obvious. But Bradford has also led the league 3 years in a row when it comes to getting hit while throwing. His toughness should never be questioned. He showed poise, and took care of, and moved the football. Despite everything going on he finished with 3,877 yards, 20 TDs and 5 INTs and a 71.6 completion percentage with a passer rating of 99.3 in just 15 games. As well as ranking number 1 in deep ball accuracy despite being under duress. But you cant measure Sams success off of just one season. Especially not that one.
At the start of the season, Sam wasn’t OUR guy, he was a mercenary to bridge the gap until TEDDY returns. But now fans need to start embracing him a little more. He stood in there an took a beating for a team who wanted the other guy back. We all know Teddy would have taken the pressure off the O-Line with his feet, but that’s not Sams game. Instead he stepped up in the pocket and delivered the ball while getting crushed. When you look at Teddy, you see a kid who just does and says all the right things. We all love him because He brought us the hope we had been missing for so long at the Quarterback position. But when he went down so did Sam. We like to think about what would have been with Teddy last year, we all expected him to make that leap year 3, but imagine the criticism he would have taken in those circumstances. With all those injuries going on, some how it would have been his fault the offense was so obsolete. Similar to what people are doing with Bradford. Both Teddy and Sam have a tremendous amount of Heart and toughness. Both are two different style Quarterbacks, both do different things well.
As it stands right now it is Sam’s job to lose. If he has an extraordinary year there’s no way the Vikings can let him walk with so much uncertainty around Teddy’s knee. If he has a mediocre season it makes things easier. Regardless expect the Vikings to keep both on the roster through the 2018 season. With Teddy’s contract likely to toll over to 18′, the Vikings could use the Franchise Tag on Bradford. Giving us 2 more years to figure this thing out TOGETHER. And while everybody is team Teddy or team Sleeves, lets just be happy that BOTH are OUR guys and were not searching for a quarterback again. We don’t want 2005-2014 back. We are in a very fortunate situation, with two Viable QBs on the roster. PRAY FOR TEDDY, But STAND UP for SAM.