Hi kids. I know we're still trying to pick up the pieces, but pick up the pieces we must. Like Mike Zimmer said yesterday, and will continue to say, the season won't be cancelled just because the starting quarterback got hurt.
So...where does that leave the Vikings? Eric did a great job about re-calibrating expectations earlier this morning, but let's break this whole thing down SMR style. We always knew that if something happened to Teddy the Vikings season would be in jeopardy, and as a franchise the team was flirting with disaster in a worst case scenario.
Welllllll...we're now staring down the barrel of said worst case scenario, aren't we, Mr. Hatchet?
We'll use our typical SMR profile, but let's be clear...there are no winners in this particular SMR. So our winner-less SMR follows
Blue Chip Stocks:
Mike Zimmer, Head Coach: I can't say enough good things about Mike Zimmer as a coach or more importantly, as a man. He's had to deal with tragedy most of us haven't, and in his press conference yesterday, he was disappointed, yet resolute. He was emotional, yet very pragmatic in his approach. If you haven't seen his press conference, go watch it. If you were on the ledge you won't be, if you weren't on the ledge, you might be downright optimistic. I know he will get the franchise past this as a team, and they will come ready to play every week. I can't think of another coach in the NFL I would want as the head coach of the Vikings right now more than Mike Zimmer.
Eric Sugarman, Certified Athletic Trainer: As news comes out about just how bad Teddy's injury was, the role Eric Sugarman played in stabilizing Bridgewater and getting him prompt, immediate...and correct...medical care not only stabilized Teddy's knee, but potentially kept him from losing his leg. Yeah, that's how bad the injury was, and that's how good Sugarman is. Seriously, read Fearless Leader's post about what the extent of his injury is, and be thankful that the Vikings had Sugarman there when it happened. Whatever the Vikings are paying him...it's not enough.
The 53 players that will make up the 2016 Minnesota Vikings: Look, I'm not trying to downplay the magnitude of the injury here, but...this is still a good team. Last night on the podcast with Di, I looked at this team and made what I thought was a favorable comparison to the 2008 team. The similarities are there--great defense, great running game, favorable schedule, but there are a couple of key differences, too. I think this defense is better than the 2008 edition, and this coaching staff is much better than in 2008.And, if we remember, that 2008 team won the NFC North, so to say the Vikings are out of it before the season begins is wrong.
Another thing to look at his the QB production from last year. At face value, 3,200 yards passing and 14 TD passes seems like it should be easy to replicate. My initial reaction is that yeah, Shaun Hill (or another guy, or a combination of whoever) can do that, fairly easy. But the flip side of that is the way Teddy was able to move his feet in the pocket, avoid a relentless rush, complete 65% of his passes, and throw only 9 interceptions. To me, that will be the stuff that will be difficult to replicate, whoever the starter is. If ever the Vikings needed a proverbial game manager, it's this year. Because let's face it, if the 2016 Vikings QB can replicate both sides of that coin, especially minimizing the turnovers, this is still going to be a very dangerous football team.
The offensive line: I think this line looks better so far through three pre-season games. But if the Vikings QB is going to re-create 2015 Teddy, they have to step up and be better than league average now. They have to. The Vikings made an investment in the offensive line, and it's time...right now...to get a return on that investment.
Rick Spielman, General Manager: All throughout the off-season, one of the things we thought the Vikings would address is the back-up QB situation. Shaun Hill didn't look good in relief of Teddy last season, and his preseason performance has been, at best, uneven. Spielman rolled the dice and took a calculated risk that the Vikings wouldn't need to upgrade that position, for a couple reasons. For one, until yesterday Teddy was one of the most durable and tough QB's in the NFL, even going back to his days at Louisville. Secondly, the Vikings had other priorities they needed to address, and to their credit they did. But as training camp started, it became obvious that if something happened to Teddy, the Vikings would have issues moving forward, and not addressing it would bite them in the rear end. And here we are.
Overall Rick Spielman has been a very good GM for the Vikings, but looking at things today, this looks like a complete organizational failure, and that's on him.
Taylor Heinicke, QB: Talk about literally kicking yourself out of a golden opportunity. Heinicke's stupidity...and let's be honest, the way he hurt himself was flat out stupidity...put the Vikings QB situation in even deeper, darker waters. Normally the third string QB getting drunk and hurting himself is a story that we file under 'comic relief', but now, it's become a huge issue. Heinicke was a guy the Vikings were/are very high on, and had he stayed healthy, he would have had a golden opportunity to step up and get himself in the Minnesota Vikings Backup Quarterback Hall of Fame.
Now? He's out for another month, has had no work in training camp, and the Vikings QB depth chart looks like it's been pulled from the rubble of Hiroshima. Heinicke's injury has now forced the Vikings to re-sign Brad Sorenson, and go rummaging through the Quarterback Clearance Rack at T.J. Maxx. If he had at least been healthy, Minnesota could have gone with a trio of Hill, Heinicke, and Stave, with no chance of Stave seeing the field...because no one wants that. As it stands today, we're one big hit or non-contact injury away from the Joel Stave era being unleashed on Minnesota. Incidentally, when translated from Aramaic, 'Joel Stave' means 'the seven plagues that befell Egypt'.
Way to go, Taylor.
Buy: The Vikings defense being borderline elite. One of the things I give Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer all the credit for is this monster of a defense they've built in such a short time. It's championship-caliber good, they have everyone returning, and everyone is healthy. This team, for this year, will be known for it's defense, and they are going to need to bring their A+ game, every week, on almost every play.
Sell: The Vikings can win all their games by a 17-13 score. That said, the offense isn't bereft of talent, and will have to put points on the board. Sure, there are close games they'll need to win, but they have the potential to score more than 13-17 points a game. The Vikings still have the best running back in football in Adrian Peterson, they have a trio of three really good, young wide receivers, and a pair of tight ends that can be very effective in the middle of the field and in the red zone.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
So this is how the phone call with my Dad went yesterday when I heard the news. I was down in the dumps, as we all were:
Me: Teddy Bridgewater is out for the year with a knee injury.
Dad: He's hurt? He wasn't hurt on Sunday!
Me: No, he's hurt now though. Bad. Out for the year.
Dad: Well son...there isn't anything you can do about it, so quit moping.
So, the time for moping is over, and we move forward. Into what, we're not sure, but we keep our heads up and keep moving. This team is about more than one player, even if that's a player we feel is almost indispensable.