Historical roadblock not in Bridgewater's way

Will Teddy Bridgewater be a starter at the outset of the season? Vikings history says no, but the previous examples aren't completely comparable case studies.

The recent trend in the NFL has been that, when a young quarterback is ready to get thrown into the line of fire, you don't wait.

Andrew Luck, RG3, Matt Ryan and Ryan Tannehill are examples of first-round quarterbacks that got "thrown into the fire" very early on and not only survived but are starting carving out their own legacy. For what it's worth, Christian Ponder and Mark Sanchez led their teams to the playoffs. Let's not forget what are now referred to as Draft Friday selections Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick – both of whom have found their way to the Super Bowl.

So, does Teddy Bridgewater get a legitimate chance to be the Vikings starter on Week 1 of the regular season?

That depends on what side of Vikings history you're on.

Bridgewater is just the fourth Vikings quarterback drafted in the first round in franchise history. None of the other three have started Week 1

Tommy Kramer was insurance for an aging Fran Tarkenton. Bud Grant would never bench Tark. There was no competition. Kramer wouldn't play.

According to Denny Green, Daunte Culpepper was a gift for a team that already had Randall Cunningham and Jeff George under contract. It would take a catastrophe in 1999 for Culpepper to see the field. He didn't.

The same intention was in place for Ponder in a lockout-scarred 2011. It was only the mailing-it-in ineptitude of Donovan McNabb that pushed Ponder into a starting role sooner than expected.

So, the odds would tell you that Bridgewater has no shot. Right?

Not so fast, my friend.

In each of the instances, the upstart rookies had no choice but to know their role. Kramer had no shot. It was said it would take Tarkenton to break a leg for Kramer to see the field, since Tark was the QB ironman of his day. As it would happen, Tarkenton did break his leg. But Vikings fans didn't get to see Kramer until Grant gave up on Lee – an appropriate political irony given the timing.

Green was questioned why he would draft a quarterback when he had the most potent offense the NFL had never seen before. It turned out Green was right. Culpepper was the future, just not his.

Leslie Frazier vouched for McNabb. For that reason, the Triangle of Authority became a one-man show in terms of shaping the roster. Spielman got promoted. Frazier eventually got fired.

What makes the next two months unique in the Vikings experience is that there isn't a coaching/front office regime that has been established and has a loyalty to the incumbent. There isn't a Tarkenton or Cunningham in front of Bridgewater. It's Matt Cassel and Ponder.

There has been a lot of discussion as to whether Bridgewater will spend 2014 as a backup or a starter. The one thing that can reasonably be expected – on the day that Norv Turner and Mike Zimmer decide that Bridgewater is the best available option, he will start.

Whether that is September or December of 2014 or even 2015 will be determined. But the roadblocks that faced the other Vikings' first-round quarterbacks in franchise history aren't in place for Bridgewater. When he's ready, you'll know it.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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