“He continues to do good. I think we probably need to put the ‘learning the offense’ (storyline) away. I think he’s good to go with all that stuff,” Zimmer said after his team’s win against the Carolina Panthers.
The speed to which Bradford would be able to pick up the Vikings offense was a big discussion topic the moment the team traded for him just eight days before the start of the regular season. He did not start Week 1 because of the quick turnaround in a new offense, but he was able to start their Week 2 game against the Green Bay Packers.
Bradford didn’t seem to struggle with the plays at any point during that game and that carried over into last week’s game against the Panthers. He was able to get into a nice groove after a shaky start and once again do enough on the field to help secure a victory for the Vikings.
Zimmer wants to lay to rest the story angle that his quarterback still needs to learn the playbook because he is now comfortable in the offense. According to Bradford, the only thing he really needs to work on is checks at the line of scrimmage, but that will come as the coaching staff gains more trust in him.
A big part of Bradford’s ability to get comfortable in the offense as quickly as he did was the team’s quarterbacks coach, Scott Turner, spending a lot of extra time working with him. The two would study at the practice facility long after all the other players had left, working through the playbook and talking about what Bradford liked and what he wasn’t as comfortable with.
“If there’s something he’s not comfortable with, a veteran guy like Sam, I think, will express more opinions,” said offensive coordinator Norv Turner. “And I think we’ve avoided negative plays by just taking some of the things out that he wasn’t comfortable with.”
But while some things were taken out as a way to help Bradford adjust, there really was not much they had to tweak in order to accommodate their new addition. Norv Turner said that there is nothing they are running on offense that they did not have when either Shaun Hill or Teddy Bridgewater were under center.
Instead, there are just certain plays that are now featured more often to help utilize Bradford’s strengths.
One of those strengths is throwing the ball downfield. He is more accurate when throwing deep than Bridgewater was. Bridgewater was a much more mobile player who could create a lot of plays with his legs and avoid the pass rush, but his deep ball needed some work, something that was anticipated to improve before he suffered a season-ending knee injury in a preseason practice.
Bradford is the opposite. He throws a good deep ball, but mobility is not something he relies on.
“Teddy, obviously, is very, very mobile and has made a lot of plays with his feet,” said the team’s offensive coordinator. “We’re not going to rely on that with Sam, although we did have a couple nice plays where we got him on the edge last week. We know what he is. He’s a pocket passer, and he’s a very, very good one.”
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Through two games, Bradford has completed 40 passes on 59 attempts (67.8 percent) for 457 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He has completed three passes over 20 yards downfield and two passes over 40 yards downfield. It’s an early success that many are hoping will continue for the remainder of the season.
Things will likely get more difficult for him, though, as teams begin to see how it is the Vikings are using Bradford in the offense and what it is he likes to do with the personnel around him. Once defenses begin to key in on those strengths there will likely be a couple more changes to how the offense approaches games.