A few days ago, when it was announced that Sam Bradford wouldn’t play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I wrote a piece chronicling the trials and tribulations Mike Zimmer has endured since he became the Vikings coach.
I might have missed the most amazing stat in all of that.
Mike Zimmer has coached 51 games for the Vikings, is 28-23 overall, and won the NFC North in 2015. He has done that with his quarterback of choice starting only 20 games.
Yeah, let’s break it down.
In 2014, we all know the Vikings moved up to draft QB Teddy Bridgewater with the last pick in the first round. But the Vikings plan was for Teddy to sit behind Matt Cassel, presumably for the year, to let him learn the craft under the tutelage of a seasoned NFL veteran.
That lasted all of three games, as Cassel broke multiple bones in his foot during a game in New Orleans. From then on Bridgewater started 12 games, and Christian Ponder started one.
In 2015, Bridgewater was named the starting quarterback, and started all 16 games. The Vikings went 11-5, and won the NFC North.
Last year, as we know, Bridgewater’s knee exploded when ISIS planted a bomb on Teddy and detonated it between his ACL and MCL. He was out for the season and then some, and the Vikings traded for Sam Bradford. Yes, Bradford is a starting-caliber QB, and would start for most NFL teams. Still, he wasn’t supposed to be the starting QB for the Vikings, and as Mike Zimmer has said more than once, he never thought he’d have another QB besides Teddy. So Shaun Hill started week one, and Bradford started the remaining 15.
This year, Bradford came in as the starter while Bridgewater still rehabs his knee. Bradford made it exactly one week until his twice-surgically repaired knee began acting up, and Keenum has been pressed in to service the past two weeks, going 1-1 in that time.
So, to recap:
2014: 3 of 16 games, 7-9 record
2015: 16 of 16 games, 11-5 record
2016: 0 of 16 games, 8-8 record
2017 (so far): 1 of 3 games, 2-1 record
So with having the quarterback he planned on initially playing in only 39% of his tenure, Mike Zimmer and the Vikings have managed to go 28-23 in that time.
I don’t know if that’s some kind of weird NFL record, or just a bizarre confluence of circumstances, but there’s only one way I can properly express myself when I figured this all out earlier today: