Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Oh yeah, about that Vikings trade......

It was a busy (but fun) Labor Day weekend, so I have yet to opine on the latest big news about my favorite NFL squad.

The Minnesota Vikings, who lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the 2016 season with a severe left knee injury, acquired Sam Bradford in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday.

In return, the Eagles will receive the Vikings' first-round draft pick in 2017 as well as a conditional fourth-rounder in 2018.

If the Vikings reach the NFC Championship Game this season, the conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 will become a third-round pick, according to sources. If the Vikings win the Super Bowl, it will become a second-round pick.

The initial reaction among many NFL fans was that it was an awful lot for the Vikings to give up for a QB who has hardly lived up to the expectations that came with his being drafted #1 overall in 2010. That, and Bradford has only played a full 16-game season twice in a six-year career. But if indeed the Vikes make a deep playoff run this season (having a potential Top 5 defense makes it a distinct possibility), the 2017 first round draft pick they surrendered would be near the end of that round anyways. On top of that, Bradford is also signed for 2017, which was also a significant factor given that there's no guarantee Bridgewater would be ready to play next year.

If Bradford can put up similar numbers to his production last season with the Eagles (3,725 yards passing and 19 TD passes in 14 starts), the Vikings offense is automatically more potent than the previous two years, especially if running back Adrian Peterson can rush for the obligatory 1,200-1,500 yards. And in his final seven starts last year, Bradford had a QB rating of 90+ in six of them. He also put up career highs in passing yardage and completion percentage.

Obviously Bradford is slated to be the starter for the immediate future with veteran Shaun Hill serving as the backup. The only question remaining is will Bradford be able to successfully complete a crash course of the Vikings playbook and be ready week one at Tennessee? MMQB columnist Peter King had an interesting perspective.

In 1993, Troy Aikman tweaked a hamstring in a November game for Dallas. The next day Cleveland coach Bill Belichick fired quarterback Bernie Kosar. Two days later the Cowboys signed Kosar and, with backup Jason Garrett slated to start, Dallas coaches got Kosar ready to play against the Cardinals. Kosar got ready, all right. Ten minutes into a 20-15 win over the Cards, Kosar relieved Garrett and went on to complete 13 of 21 with one touchdown pass and no turnovers.

The Dallas offensive coordinator then? Norv Turner.

The Minnesota offensive coordinator now, 23 years later? Norv Turner.

I covered that story, and that game, for Sports Illustrated. On Sunday I looked back at what I wrote. Kosar was programmed with 67 plays, all of which were typed neatly on his wristband. Turner would call down the play he wanted to tight ends coach Robert Ford, and Ford would signal the number to Kosar—for instance, holding up two fingers, then six, for play number 26 on the wristband—and Kosar would translate the number to a play, and make the call. Worked pretty well. Is that how Turner will do it with Sam Bradford? And will the Vikings rush Bradford into the opener against Tennessee? I don’t know. But Turner has a road map to do it. He’s done it before, with a shorter turnaround. Kosar was signed five days before he played 50 minutes. Bradford was acquired eight days before the game in Nashville.

Even if he's not ready week one, Bradford will have an opportunity to shine the remaining 15 games in 2016. This Vikings club is definitely the most talented team he's played for in his career.


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