Despite Minnesota Vikings’ struggles, QB Sam Bradford putting up strong numbers

The Minnesota Vikings offense has been in flux all season, but Sam Bradford is more than doing his part.

The Minnesota Vikings offense has struggled for much of the 2016 season – even when they were winning. But, one thing that can’t be held to blame is the performance of quarterback Sam Bradford.

Playing in the constraints of a run-first offense, Bradford has done in eight games what he hasn’t done at any time in his career – have five individual games in which he had a passer rating of 100.0 or above.

In 2012 with the St. Louis Rams, he had four games with a passer rating of 100.0 or higher – but that came in 16 games in a season where he had a season-long passer rating of 82.6.

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In 2015 with the Philadelphia Eagles, Bradford had four games with a passer rating of 100.0, but that came in 14 starts in a year where he had a passer rating of 86.4.

For the sake of comparison, Teddy Bridgewater had five games with a passer rating of 100.0 or higher last season in his 16 starts. He finished the season with a rating of 88.7. His numbers were something of a misnomer because the offense was geared around Adrian Peterson, which meant that Bridgewater had nine games throwing for less than 200 yards and six games in which he didn’t have a touchdown pass.

In eight games as a Vikings starter, Bradford has a passer rating of 99.9 and only one game with a rating below 88.6 (a 71.6 rating against the Eagles). He has thrown for less than 224 yards just once.

The answer to why he has so many highly rated games is that he has completed 71 percent of his passes or higher in five games – which, not coincidentally, are the five games he has posted passer ratings of over 100.0.

Through eight starts, Bradford has by far the best completion percentage of his career (69.6). Extrapolated out of 16 games, Bradford is on pace to throw for 4,044 yards, 22 touchdown and four interceptions – all of which would be career highs.

Even in losses, he has played well.

“The quarterback played outstanding in my opinion,” Mike Zimmer said on Monday after the fourth straight loss. “He made a lot of great throws, but we struggled on third-and-1.”

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His interception percentage per pass (0.7) is one-third of his career interception percentage (2.1) and less than half his previous career best (1.5).

What makes Bradford’s performance more impressive is that defenses have focused more on him than any Vikings quarterback in the last decade. With Peterson gone, injuries up front on the offensive line and no semblance of a running game, the onus to move the Vikings offense has fallen squarely on the shoulders of Bradford.

In the two games he has worked with Pat Shurmur’s offense, his numbers have been strikingly similar – completing 31 of 40 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown against Detroit and completing 31 of 40 passes for 307 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against Washington.

The Vikings have had more than their fair share of problems offensively this season, but you can’t throw blame Bradford’s way. He’s done his job at or above the expectations the Vikings had when they made the trade to acquire him.

As the Vikings look to turn their season back around, they’re going to need Bradford to lead the way. From the looks of things, if he keeps up at the pace he’s going, he’ll finish 2016 with the best season of his career and, statistically speaking, the best season of any Vikings quarterback since 2009.

WEDNESDAY NOTES

  • Kyle Rudolph has caught a touchdown pass in each of his last two games. His next touchdown will tie Steve Jordan for the all-time career touchdown mark for a Vikings tight end. Rudolph currently has 27 career TDs. Jordan had 28 in his Vikings career.
  • The Vikings-Cardinals game is going to get FOX’s No. 1 broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
  • Both of the Cardinals starting wide receivers – Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd – were Twin Cities high school standout athletes. Fitzgerald played for the Academy of the Holy Angels in Minneapolis and Floyd was a standout for St. Paul powerhouse Cretin-Derham Hall.


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