These are the times that try a football team's soul, and at times like this, you need someone guiding the ship who knows what they're doing. Many of you think Vikings GM Rick Spielman is the last guy who should have his hand on the rudder, which I don't understand. Overall I have no complaints with how he's handled Vikings personnel over the last several years, from the draft, to free agency, to draft day trades.
Yet for all the moves he's made, the Sam Bradford trade is arguably the biggest of them all, because Bradford is now The Man To Save The Season And Maybe Beyond...Gulp. We know this, Rick Spielman knows we know this...yet Rick Spielman won't out and out tell you he knows that we know.
Or...does he? You see, my friends, Rick Spielman is Patient Zero in Rickspeak. What is Rickspeak, you ask?
Rickspeak...how to describe Rickspeak. Hmmm....Rickspeak is a philosophy*...an ethos**...a mantra***, if you will, on how to communicate through a language.
*No, it's not a philosophy. This is not existential in any way, shape, or form. It's literally nothing more than sophomoric humor.
**It isn't an ethos, either. National Socialism is an ethos. And say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos, Dude. Fucking nihilists.
***I don't even understand what the word mantra means. I think it's a chant. This is not a chant. Literally. Sophomoric. Humor. Chants are weird.
But it's a language much like a dog whistle--few can hear it, and less really understand it. And that's where we, the staff of The Daily Norseman, come in*. We take the PhD level philosophy Spielman is teaching**, break it down, and make it something that was can all understand.***
*We do nothing of the sort. I wouldn't even be doing this if I didn't get a press conference transcript.
**It's just a press conference discussing the trade of a football player. Really, that's all it is.
***I make up every word of the interpretation. Every. Single. Word.
Again, what Rick says will be in the block quotes, and what he really means will be immediately below.
Rick started off with an opening statement:
What Rick said: First of all, I'd like to thank (Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Howie Roseman and working through him for this situation. It's a very unique situation. Very rarely do you have a starting quarterback go down a week before the season, and I think as we went through this process and spoke with a lot of teams and looked at all our options out there, as I talked to you a little bit on Thursday night about looking at potential veterans, looking at potential trades, looking at all our options, we felt this was a very rare and unique opportunity to add a quarterback of Sam's (Bradford) caliber. I know how difficult it was for Philadelphia, from their decision standpoint, to give up their starting quarterback, like I said, in this unique timeframe before we open a season next week.
What Rick meant: HOWIE MY MAAAAAN, WOOOOOOOOOO! Thanks for potentially saving my job and this season. Whew! You know, when you completely neglect the backup QB situation, you decide to go with the percentages, and the percentages tell me that only 1% of the time do you lose your starting quarterback with a season ending injury before the season even starts. Which means, of course, there was a 99% chance it happened to the Vikings. And it did, because of course it would. But when I say 'rare and unique', what do I really mean?
Rare because this literally never happens, and it happened to the Vikings. Unique because the quarterbacks that were on the roster were a unique combination of old and bad, a guy that got into a fight with a door and literally got his ass kicked, and a guy that I like to nickname Joel Stigmata, because he causes me to bleed tears and any scenario that sees him on the field in the regular season would be a sign that the Apocalypse had, in fact, arrived.
The potential replacements, other than this trade, are Death, Pestilence, War, and Famine, so yeah, I needed to do something. And I did something. I pushed my chips all in, because this is a good team, and we're still going for it.
Q: You were saying you were hesitant to give up high draft picks and mortgage the future. What made giving up a first-round pick next year worth this deal to you?
What Rick said: We did not mortgage the future, in my mind. We have a lot of flexibility with our draft. I still have eight draft picks next year: a two, two threes, two fours and the rest of them. The trade we made with Miami last year, with that combination of picks in the second day, you have the potential to potentially move up or move back and collect more picks. I can't predict right now what the draft board is going to look like or what's going to be available, but I know the philosophy I've always had was to be able to move up and down that draft board. And every year, the object and the goal was the get 10 draft picks, and I think we're still in position to do that and still have position and flexibility to move up and down.
I think when I talked about mortgaging the future, that is absolutely not the case here. One, because of the amount of draft picks we do have, and two, a lot of the teams that I have spoken with - mortgaging the future to me was asking for some of our younger players that were Pro Bowlers or very significant players on this roster. And the one thing that I know that I will not do is draft these players ... We have an unbelievable coaching staff and how they develop talent, and that has shown over the last year threes with the draft classes we've had. And to put the time in to develop this young talent, to get this team ... Our core nucleus is still very young and continuing to get into the prime of their careers. That's where I said I would not mortgage the future or give any of those significant players that are young currently on our roster up.
What Rick meant: Look, we didn't mortgage the future. But we did, however, get a lease with an option to buy on something that might or might not have a Bernie Madoff-like return on investment. Here's the deal, though...Philly's paying most of that money, and maybe we can get that back before the FBI rolls up and starts throwing warrants around like Skip Bayless throws around hot takes. And seriously, if this works out and we make a big run, or even, you know, win it all, you people wouldn't care if we had a draft pick for another five years. But I promise that in next year's draft I won't draft Willie Beavers, deal?
We didn't mortgage the future. We didn't mortgage the future, we didn't mortgage the future...
Q: Sam Bradford was obviously the number one pick in the Draft, Heisman Trophy winner and all that. Do you think the main reason he hasn't reached his full potential has been the injuries, or has there been other factors, such as all the different coordinators he has had? What would you say the factors are?
What Rick said: I'd say there are a lot of factors. I know the one thing - and even when we were a little bit more aggressive in free agency this period - most, I think, if not all, of the guys that we brought in during the free agency period, our coaches had familiarity with, had coached him or been with him at other teams. This is - even though it's such a unique and rare situation that we were put in, unfortunately, and the ability to make such a unique trade with eight days before the season kicks off - but the other thing that I think was very important, as well, is having Pat Shurmur here. Pat Shurmur had him as a rookie, and was with him in St. Louis. He was also with him in Philadelphia. Pat Shurmur gave us great insight on Sam, on all the intangibles we're looking for, on the intelligence we're looking for, and he knows (what we're looking for).
We sat there and I watched, and our scouts watched, and our coaches watched; we watched every game last season (that Sam played). We watched every snap he played in this preseason, but Pat Shurmur, because he has worked with Sam at a very unique position, the quarterback position, he knows what his strengths and weakness are. And I think that's a valuable asset for us as our coaches teach him the offense and understand what things he does best and what things that he may struggle at. Our coaches always preach to put these guys (in situations) and to utilize what they do best.
What Rick meant: It's been a couple of things. Namely, the St. Louis Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Rams were and are terrible. Bradford had an offensive line that stopped blockers about as well as a collender holds water, and receivers that were essentially five or six Troy Williamsons. In Philadelphia, he ran an offense that Buddy Ryan would think was an insult to the Chuck and Duck, and he was more of a programmatic non-fit in that offense than Randy Moss was in Chilly's offense. Brad Childress was a moron, and so was Chip Kelly using Sam in that offense. In Minnesota, he has a line we think can at least fog a mirror, better receivers than we had this time last year and he's ever had, and one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL. We also have a defense that is going to eat all year long, so Sam I Am is a position to succeed, and he hasn't had that before.
Also, when Teddy went down,
Uncle Rico Pat Shurmur came to me, headband on his noggin tears in his eyes, and said 'if you get Sam Bradford, we're gonna go to state. Swear to God we will. Sam can throw it over that mountain.' So yeah, if this blows up in my face, I'm taking Shurmur with me.
Q: How much did the fact that Sam is under contract through 2017 play into your willingness to do the deal? It doesn't necessarily mean you have to rush Teddy Bridgewater back to get him ready for the start of training camp next year if he won't be ready.
What Rick said: To be honest with you, that played a huge part in this deal, because we have Sam Bradford under contact for two years. Teddy has to get his surgery and go through his rehab. I think everybody knows how we feel about Teddy, but to me, it was just too unique of an opportunity to bring in a caliber of player at that position like Sam Bradford, with all the earlier things that I talked about, with the relationship with Pat and so on and so forth. But also, we have two, right now going into next year, very talented quarterbacks.
What Rick meant:
/Walks over to the corner
/Goes into fetal position
/rocks back and forth
Teddy will be fine...Teddy will be fine...Teddy will be fine...Teddy will be fine...
Q: Can you talk about the timetable when the Sam Bradford trade all came together and how the terms got to be what they were?
What Rick said: Like I said, things happened very quickly. After the unfortunate incident with Teddy on Tuesday, and you get over the initial shock, Tuesday night I gathered up all of our staff, and we started to go through the process. We were watching film Tuesday night. Wednesday, into Thursday, we were making phone calls. I made a lot of phone calls through Thursday, and as we sat there and weighed out all of options and looked at everything, then I understood where Philadelphia may be a slim possibility of getting this done. I also understand that this is not a normal transaction period. We had a short, 24-hour window to get this done. It's different than when you're in the offseason and you're making a trade through the free agency period, or you're getting ready for the draft. You have time to get through all the stuff. You have time to negotiate.
This was a scenario where, I think, both teams were in a difficult situations. Howie (Roseman) and the (Eagles) organization had to make a very difficult decision about giving up a player of Sam Bradford's caliber, and Sam Bradford was their starter. We had to make a very difficult decision on what is going to give us the best chance to win, and every year when we go into a season, we put too much time, we put too much energy and too much effort into trying to improve our roster every year. I think this year we accomplished a lot of that both through free agency and the draft. This was, like I said, a very unique and unfortunate incident that you have to get through. I understand at times there's a premium that you have to pay because there's not a lot of teams that have the depth that Philly does at quarterback and are willing to give up a starting-caliber quarterback. I know that by adding Sam Bradford to this roster, we are a better team today than we were yesterday.
What Rick meant: When Teddy got hurt Tuesday, I grabbed the coaching staff, walked over to Don Pablo's next door, got sledgehammer drunk, and made them stay open all night. Our bar tab was $36,412, and it was money well spent. We also had some nachos. Then I staggered back over to my office, and I swear to God when I scrolled through my contacts I thought I was calling Brett Favre. Next thing I know I'm talking to the Eagles, and in my drunken stupor I make this comment about Carson Wentz being the next Favre. Lo and behold, we have a Sam Bradford deal done and WHERE THE HELL IS MY WALLET AND THAT FIRST ROUND PICK??? DAMN IT! I then went back over to Don Pablo's, and I swear I saw Mike Tice there polishing off a thing of tequila, and he ate the worm. I also had some more nachos and then got an Uber ride home. The nachos were delicious, and we are a better football team now than we were on Friday.
In an unrelated note, I need a liver transplant. And security camera footage shows it was Pat Shurmur eating the worm. Pretty sure that's when we had our Uncle Rico moment, but shit got hazy about 3 in the morning. Everything is fine, though. It'll be fine. I like nachos. I will offer them to Cleveland to recoup that draft pick. I feel confident in that trade going through.
Q: Is there an expectation to get Sam Bradford ready by Week One against the Tennessee Titans or are you targeting Week Two?
What Rick said: That could be something you ask Coach ‘Zim' (Mike Zimmer) on Monday. I think the biggest thing is to get him in the building and get him down with our coaching staff. He can't start any week until he gets the playbook down and our coaches get an opportunity to see how much he can learn and how quickly he can learn. That is the number one focus right now. Once the coaches feel comfortable, I think, in that area, he'll be out throwing in practice. You guys will be an opportunity to see him on Monday to see him. The coaches will make that determination.
What Rick meant: There is every expectation that Sam Bradford will start at Nashville.
Q: Were there any concerns about Sam Bradford's durability and can you talk about the due diligence you all took from a medical perspective considering the injuries he's had?
What Rick said: We're are very familiar with the injuries that he's had. Once I spoke with Howie, he gave us permission to speak to their medical people. Eric Sugarman has a great relationship (with them) because of his affiliation with Philadelphia before he came here. He knows the team doctors. I think we have great team doctors. They were able to see all of the medical information and the MRI's and they felt very comfortable with that decision.
What Rick meant: Huge concerns, but in the trade Philadelphia gave us Bradford AND a conditional ACL to be named later. If Sam plays less than 50% of the snaps, we get two ACL's, and everything will be pointless and have no meaning, anyway. Eric Sugarman gonna earn his paycheck, because Sam could be more brittle than the Samuel L. Jackson character from Unbreakable.
Q: You talked about Pat Shurmur and the recommendation he gave you on Sam. Can you give us an idea of what you feel his strengths are and what he brings to this offense?
What Rick said: Yeah, I can just tell you personally what I have seen, and Pat and the coaches can maybe emphasis more on how he's going to fit in Norv's (Turner) scheme and what he does best. I think Sam is a big quarterback. He is a very accurate thrower. He does a great job getting through his reads of progressions. He makes quick decisions in the pocket. He can throw the deep ball down the field. As we've seen some of the routes that we throw in our offense, we've seen those same routes and seen him complete those same balls that he's going to have to do in this system. I scouted him when he came out, even though he was the number one overall pick, and I've always been a big fan of Sam Bradford when he came out of college. And I know from what we've seen on tape - what our coaches have seen on tape - his skillset and the traits that he has as a quarterback fit well into Norv Turner's scheme.
What Rick meant: Sure. For one he has three strengths that we really like, and one we love. We like that he's not Shaun Hill or Taylor Heinicke, and love that he's not Joel Stigmata. He can throw the ball. To receivers. With some authority. So that's good. Everything will be okay, you guys. We're back on track.