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Could Offensive Coordinator Consistency Be The Key For Sam Bradford In 2017?

He’s getting to experience something for just the second time in his career

NFL: Minnesota Vikings-Minicamp Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

So, while I was messing around on the Twitter machine the other day, I saw a pretty informative tweet from one of our readers, so I attempted to share it with everyone.

After I retweeted it, I received this:

So I said to myself, “Self. . .that’s a really good question. Maybe I should do some research on that and find out.”

So I did, and it turns out that this might be a good thing for the Vikings. Who would have thought?

Since the St. Louis Rams made Sam Bradford the #1 overall pick in 2010, he’s had a slew of offensive coordinators to deal with, and hasn’t gotten much in the way of consistency. Here are the list of OCs he’s had over the course of his career.

  • 2010 St. Louis: Pat Shurmur
  • 2011 St. Louis: Josh McDaniels
  • 2012 St. Louis: Brian Schottenheimer
  • 2013 St. Louis: Brian Schottenheimer
  • 2015 Philadelphia: Pat Shurmur
  • 2016 Minnesota: Norv Turner/Pat Shurmur
  • 2017 Minnesota: Pat Shurmur (presumably)

(Brian Schottenheimer was also the offensive coordinator for the Rams in 2014, but Bradford missed that entire season with an injury, so it really doesn’t matter.)

In 2017, for just the second time in his career, Bradford will start a season under the same offensive coordinator he finished the previous season with. The first time was when he was with Schottenheimer in St. Louis in 2012 and 2013. How did it turn out?

Well, in 2012, Bradford put up numbers that were pretty good, but not great. . .and, frankly, that we as Vikings fans would probably love to see from the quarterback position in most years. He completed 59.5% of his passes, threw for 3,702 yards, and had 24 touchdown passes to 13 interceptions.

(Seriously, before Bradford’s 20 TD passes in 2016, the Vikings hadn’t put up 20 passing touchdowns in a season as a team since the Zombie Brett Favre year of 2009. 20+ touchdown passes is a godsend for this team.)

In 2013, he got off to a pretty good start. He increased his completion percentage to 60.7%, and had 14 touchdown passes in his first seven games to just four interceptions, all while averaging 241 yards per game, which would project out to 3,856 over a full season. However, in the seventh game of the season, he suffered one of the numerous knee injuries he’s had over the years and was done for the season.

If you project Bradford’s numbers for that 2013 season out over the course of a full season, you’re looking at 32 touchdown passes (he was averaging two per game before his injury) and about nine interceptions to go along with those 3,856 yards. For comparison, in 2009 Brett Favre’s TD-to-INT ratio was 33-to-7, so 32-to-9 would be awfully impressive.

Bradford wasn’t exactly working with a Murderer’s Row of receiving weapons in the Rams’ offense that year, either. The Rams’ top three receivers that year were tight end Jared Cook (671 yards), wide receiver Chris Givens (569 yards), and rookie Tavon Austin (418 yards). This year’s Vikings would appear to be much better at the receiving positions than that Rams team was.

When you account for Bradford’s familiarity with Pat Shurmur’s offense, and that this is the third consecutive season that he’ll be in that offense for at least part of the season, it’s hard not to be optimistic about what Bradford could do in 2017. Shurmur coached him to an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2010 in St. Louis, and his time with Bradford in Philadelphia saw a notable jump in Bradford’s completion percentage. He was a 58.6% career passer with the Rams, and that number jumped to 65.0% in the one season that Bradford and Shurmur were in Philadelphia together in Chip Kelly’s system.

The Sam Bradford vs Teddy Bridgewater debate will likely rage all offseason. . .and all preseason. . .and well into the regular season. But, if Bradford can show the same level of improvement from actually being in the same offensive system that he showed the only other time he’s been in that situation, he’s going to make an already difficult quarterback decision for Rick Spielman and company that much harder to make.