Since being acquired by the Minnesota Vikings a week before the season started, quarterback Sam Bradford has acquitted himself fairly well in the Minnesota offense. In his three starts, he’s averaged about 240 yards a game, thrown four touchdown passes, and most importantly of all has not turned the ball over.
Apparently, that’s enough for long-time Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King to declare Bradford the NFL’s Most Valuable Player through the first four weeks of the 2016 NFL regular season. On the surface, it may sound a little crazy, but King actually makes a pretty solid case.
Normally I wouldn’t want to name a player who missed a quarter of his team’s games the MVP. But I will make an exception for Sam Bradford. Acquired for first-round and fourth-round picks eight days before opening day, Bradford sat out the opener (the Vikings got two defensive touchdowns and won by nine at Tennessee) and started the next three Minnesota games. In those three games, learning a new offense on the fly, Bradford has beaten quarterbacks who have played in four of the past nine Super Bowls, and in each game outplayed Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning. Bradford has no turnovers. He has the best completion and passer rating, both by a mile, in his career.
I don’t want to crib the whole article here, but you should take a minute or two to head over and read it.
King does attempt to draw a distinction about what the “Most Valuable Player” award really symbolizes, and in the National Football League the meaning is sort of fuzzy. On one hand, it could be for the best overall player in the league, but given the fact that defensive players are rarely ever considered for the award, that can’t be the entirety of it. Sometimes it’s for the best player on the best team, like Cam Newton last season. Sometimes it’s for a guy that puts up incredibly gaudy numbers, such as Aaron Rodgers in 2011 or Adrian Peterson in 2012.
In this case, however, King says that Bradford’s value to the Vikings is what makes him worthy of this award, and that logic makes a lot of sense. Granted, Shaun Hill played decent football in the Week 1 victory over Tennessee, but what Bradford has done thus far, given the short length of time he’s been with the team, has been pretty remarkable. It’s hard. . .not impossible, but hard. . .to imagine that the Vikings would be sitting at 4-0 right now with Hill playing quarterback.
When the Vikings brought Bradford in, the thought was that he was going to be able to take the heat off of Adrian Peterson and help the Minnesota offense to become more balanced. Then, Bradford got to play exactly two and a half quarters with Peterson. . .when Peterson was largely unproductive. . .before Peterson’s torn meniscus landed him on injured reserve. Now, despite his limited time to learn the Vikings’ offense, Bradford is pretty much carrying the team on that side of the ball in his three games as the starter. Sure, he’s not putting up three hundred yards and three touchdowns through the air every week, but with the way the Vikings’ defense has played over the first four weeks of the year, he doesn’t have to.
If the voting were to be held today, I’m guessing that Sam Bradford wouldn’t rank all that high on the list of players that received votes for the Most Valuable Player Award. He might not get any votes at all. But even while the defense has gotten a lot of the attention over the first four weeks of the regular season, Bradford has proven to be an integral piece of the team during their 4-0 start.
Maybe that Spielman fellow that gets all that money to make personnel decisions knows what he’s doing after all, eh?