Before the Minnesota Vikings sent first- and fourth-round picks to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford, the team’s starting quarterback for the season, following Teddy Bridgewater’s injury, was Shaun Hill. Hill is still listed as the starting quarterback on the unofficial depth chart, but the reality is a team does not give up that much for a backup.
Everyone in the Vikings organization, from the players to the general manager Rick Spielman, expressed their confidence in Hill. He had experience replacing injured quarterbacks in the past and has experience working in Norv Turner’s offensive system.
He seemed ready to take on the challenge of trying to lead this team to the playoffs.
“All I know is that I’m going to bring everything I have every single day,” Hill said. “That’s all I’ve ever done. That’s the only way I got a start in this league and part of the reason why I stuck around is that mentality. That’s the same mentality I’m going to bring this year.”
Now, his chances of leading this team seem to have flown out the window whenever Bradford is ready, and Hill was understandably disappointed in the missed opportunity. He is no stranger to this occurrence, though, as he has been a backup for a majority of his career and his coach said he’s ready to do his part and help Bradford out.
“He was disappointed at first, but Shaun is a great person,” Zimmer said of Hill after the Bradford trade. “He came in, and I talked to him before it was announced, obviously. I talked to Teddy, as well. He is a pro’s pro, and that’s the way he took it.”
Hill once again has the role of teaching the younger quarterbacks and helping to get them acclimated to the new offensive system and personnel. The only difference this time is that he already has experience working with this quarterback.
Bradford and Hill were both a part of the Los Angeles Rams (then the St. Louis Rams) in 2014 and built a good relationship with one another.
“The good news about this situation is that Shaun and I were together in St. Louis,” Bradford began. “We had a great relationship in St. Louis. We had a great (quarterback) room there. It’s been nice having a familiar face in the quarterback room and being able to talk to him. We talked about this play in the meeting room, like ‘How do you really see it? Where do you think the ball goes versus this coverage?’ He’s been super helpful, so it’s been great seeing Shaun again.”
Having a familiar face in the locker room, and having someone he can lean on has certainly helped Bradford’s progression as he tries to pick up a new system as quickly as possible. Hill has a comfort in the offense, so he understands different things faster than others would, like why the coaches implement certain things into their game plan on Wednesday.
Bradford likely won’t be able to understand things that quickly, but having a player like Hill that can explain the different reasons as to why things are happening should greatly benefit him.
Bradford might be ready to play Week 1 because it’s nearly impossible to learn a full NFL playbook and build chemistry with the supporting cast in a matter of eight days. The coaches are aware of that and have been working Hill out with the first-team offense during practices.
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Things will likely change next week, if they don’t this week, as the Vikings prepare to open up their new stadium for the regular season against the Green Bay Packers in a nationally televised game. Having a quarterback like Bradford will give the team their best chance of winning, but only if he can get comfortable in the offense in time. That’s why his relationship with Hill will be so important.