There has been a lot of consternation over the last five days as to the future of the 2016 Minnesota Vikings given the debilitating loss of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
For the Vikings, it meant scrambling to find a replacement quarterback to back up Shaun Hill when the season starts. For many of the fans, it has been viewed almost like a death in the family. For those who had their hopes raised by the return to the playoffs in 2015 and a win at Lambeau Field to wrestle the NFL North title away from Green Bay, the view of Bridgewater being gone and the team going into the 2016 season with Hill as their quarterback would mean the end of the season before it began.
A defense of a division title suddenly became a scramble just to finish .500 in the minds of many. All the offense seemingly had left was Adrian Peterson and, with no reason for a defense to respect the pass, they’d pack eight or nine in the box on every running down and render Peterson moot.
The stunning move to trade for Sam Bradford, giving up a first-round pick to Philadelphia and a conditional fourth-round pick that went against the standard protocol for General Manager Rick Spielman is a clear indication that the Vikings aren’t willing to sit and wait to let the chips fall where they may as it pertains to the 2016 season.
While not as big a signing as when the Vikings acquired Brett Favre, it is a bold move designed to send a message to the rest of the league that Minnesota is a player in the 2016 Super Bowl sweepstakes and isn’t content to take their chances with a couple of career backups.
The difference between the 2016 Vikings and the 2009 Vikings are significant, but with the same overall goal in mind.
The 2009 Vikings were a veteran-laden team with enough steam to make a one- or two-year run at a Super Bowl and Favre was clearly the missing piece. Ironically, Peterson had the fewest rushing yards of his short career when Favre was on the Vikings, but he had personal bests for receptions and touchdowns that still stand as his single-season high-water marks.
It seemed clear that the Vikings weren’t content to let history repeat itself when it pertained to who was going to be the signal caller for their offense in a Plan B mode – a history with its share of trivia answers.
Aside from Favre, the only big-name quarterback in the Peterson era was Donovan McNabb, who was at the end of his career and a shell of his former glory when he arrived in Minnesota. The other quarterbacks that Peterson has gone to war with? Tarvaris Jackson. Kelly Holcomb. Brooks Bollinger. Gus Frerotte. Joe Webb. Christian Ponder. Matt Cassel. Josh Freeman.
Not exactly the Elite Eight on that particular list.
Combined, those guys have won their fair share of NFL games. Nobody said any of those guys would lead the Vikings to a deep playoff run.
The one time the Vikings had the opportunity to land a quarterback with a solid pedigree was when Favre became available and the results spoke for themselves in 2009 when the Vikings came within a few fumbles of the Super Bowl.
The price the team gave up to get Bradford was steep, but could be an indication that Bridgewater not only will miss this season, but could be in danger of missing the 2017 season as well.
Desperate times often call for desperate measures, but the Vikings made a clear and definitive call on where they see the 2016 season heading. Peterson will still be the centerpiece of the offense, but Minnesota isn’t going to let the chips fall without giving it their best shot to add a quarterback to go with the league’s premiere running back and one of the best defenses going.
Only history will be the accurate judge of whether the Vikings overspent to land Bradford. But one thing that does seem clear is that the team wasn’t going to simply wait around and see what scraps became available on the waiver wire this afternoon. They took decisive action and landed the guy they felt gives them the best chance to win now with the other component pieces they have together.