This is the last of the five questions I got the opportunity to ask Vincent Verhei of Football Outsiders concerning the Minnesota Vikings, and I managed to drag him into our “favorite”. . .or, at least, our loudest. . .debate, as we take a look at the quarterback situation with Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. We know that Bradford is the starter, at least for now, but would the projections for the Vikings be different with Bridgewater behind center instead?
I know this is probably almost impossible to quantify, but I’ll ask it anyway. How much do you feel the projections for the Vikings would change with a healthy Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback rather than Sam Bradford, who I assume the projections for this year are based around?
There really wouldn’t be much difference. Bridgewater’s 2015 passing DVOA is actually a little lower than Bradford’s in 2016, but the difference was small, and Bridgewater is still a young, developing quarterback (or would be if he were healthy). I think the biggest difference between Bradford and a healthy Bridgewater is exactly that: Bridgewater’s age means that there’s a better upside, a chance he’ll develop into a top-notch starter instead of just an average or slightly above-average one.
I think that Mr. Verhei basically sums up the situation quite nicely here. As things stand right now, Bradford and Bridgewater are pretty much the same quarterback, at least in terms of production. As he points out, Bradford was slightly more productive in 2016 than Bridgewater was in 2015, even with the turmoil that surrounded the team last season.
The difference is that Bradford, who will turn 30 in November, has likely reached his ceiling, or is very close to it. If his ceiling is the same or slightly higher than it was last season, he should put up even better numbers this season with what should be an improved offensive line and running game to balance things out.
Bridgewater, on the other hand, will turn 25 in November. . .just a couple of days after Bradford turns 30, in fact. I think everyone is of the consensus that Bridgewater was poised to take a pretty significant step forward in 2016 before he suffered his injury, and to this point we still don’t know when he’s going to be back. (At least, at this point, it seems to be a matter of “when” as opposed to a matter of “if,” which is awfully impressive all by itself.) When he does return, he’s going to have a much higher ceiling to shoot for and more time to actually get there, provided he can get past the potential mental blocks of having to protect himself in a “live fire” type of situation.
The situation with Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford obviously bears watching, as both players have contract that expire at the end of this season, with the Vikings not picking up Bridgewater’s fifth-year option due to the potential uncertainty surrounding him. At least this potential quarterback controversy in Minnesota has to do with two quarterbacks that are pretty good, rather than two (or even three) that really are not.
Thanks to Vincent Verhei of Football Outsiders for answering the questions that I posed, and be sure to check out the 2017 Football Outsiders Almanac, which you can purchase at the link to Football Outsiders above.