When Teddy Bridgewater went down with what has been described as an injury so severe that members of the Vikings team, grown men, tough grown men, threw their helmets and the contents of their stomachs on the fields at Winter Park. It was thought at the time and really up until (very) recently that Bridgewater would be out for at least the 2017 season, if not forever (by some). So, the fact that he’s been pretty social media happy the past few days, showing pictures of him practicing with and without his leg brace, has gotten people into a small frenzy over the fact that he may be ready to at least be Sam Bradford’s back-up come September. Granted, he’s just showing pictures but the fact that he was out on the field with his college teammate and current Miami Dolphin Devante Parker means that he was at least dropping back and throwing the ball enough to justify the gas money Parker spent to get there. That small frenzy is quickly turning into a full-blown jam jam as Teddy just spoke with the good people over at The Viking Age and said the following:
"As camp approaches, I just want to make sure that I’m getting myself mentally prepared and physically prepared.”
— The Viking Age (@TheVikingAge) July 17, 2017
Now, that sounds a lot like Teddy is preparing himself to PLAY in training camp. Not just rehab, but play. This has created all sorts of responses from the Vikings faithful, some stating that Teddy should be on the roster during games even if he can’t play which makes little sense considering the fact that roster spots are a premium during the season and while it’s really rare for two quarterbacks to go down with injuries during a game, if there were a team that that’d happen to, it’s the Vikings (I want to thank /u/SalmonHelmet for being the one who inspired this piece, too). So, while I understand the emotion behind wanting a quarterback who people had emotional attachments to before the injury, to return, let’s not put the cart before the horse here.
I’m sure Teddy, being a driven young man with a career on the line, wants to get back to playing football (like he used to) as soon as possible. No good-to-great player is happy watching their spot being taken over by another player, especially because of something that is out of their control. But, Teddy is still less than a year removed from a catastrophic injury that not only almost cost him his career but also almost cost him his leg. So, there is absolutely zero reason to rush him back outside of emotion. Zero. I would argue that there is actually more of a reason not to bring him back right now than a reason to bring him back. Hear my out. And let me preface this by saying I am no longer the “anti-Teddy” guy that I was in 2015, granted I argued back then I wasn’t anti-Teddy to begin with (and still stand by that), but of course I want the Vikings quarterback to succeed, regardless of who that is. Football is an exercise in evolution in that the strong survive so if Teddy is playing better than Sam, then give the team to Teddy. So, this is coming from about as an objective place as is humanly possible when you’re a Vikings fan that loves the team enough to build a website about it.
The fact of the matter is, as of the writing of this piece, the Vikings as an organization aren’t in the need of another quarterback right now. Sure, you can never have too many good QB’s but they have a 29-year-old QB in Sam Bradford who is coming off of his best season ever despite the fact that he essentially got thrown into the worst situation of his career. Despite that, he broke the single season completion percentage record and regardless of where you stand on the “legitimacy” of that, you have to at least be semi-encouraged by the fact that the front office essentially (at least on paper) corrected years of neglecting the offensive line in one offseason to help build on what Bradford did in 2016. In that vein, the Vikings have also added talent, everywhere, and have created an offense that is tailor-made for Bradford. They have Pat Shurmur as their offensive coordinator and he’s been with Bradford almost his entire career. If the Vikings for some reason have to continue to essentially have a “dump the ball off” offense like they did in 2016, they now have three running backs on their roster who are adept at catching the ball and creating yards after the catch. All of that points to their commitment to Bradford (at least for 2017), so why rush back Teddy? So his contract can waste a year as a back-up who is one hit away from potentially losing his leg again?
They also added a deep ball receiver that was one of the most thrown to down the field receivers in the league in 2015-16. Michael Floyd just received a four game suspension but despite some online narratives, he will be on the roster come Week 5 and he will be an amazing addition to the offense (if he can stay sober during his month off, and that (sadly) is a gigantic if). If he can’t, the Vikings still have a plethora of receivers and tight ends to get the ball to. That deep ball guy has been compared to Laquon Treadwell by those who think that Michael Floyd was brought in as “insurance” (I’m quoting a personal debate I had with another purplePTSD writer) should Treadwell not make significant enough strides to fill the third wide-receiver spot on the depth chart. Considering Treadwell has, reportedly, looked great the thought is that the Vikes will cut Floyd because of his suspension and his “overlapping skillset” (I’m quoting me, paraphrasing). The thing is, yes, they’re both decently sized physical receivers (both being 6’3″), but Treadwell runs a 4.65 where as Floyd runs a 4.46. Treadwell was brought in to be Teddy’s go to guy, because he can run short routes and come down with the ball. The Vikings ran a short ball offense under Norv Turner and Teddy, but the thing is, Bradford is very accurate down the field and can open up that part of the Vikings offense. I know what you’re thinking, the Vikings ran a very short ball offense with Turner/Shurmur and Bradford, but that was out of necessity because the offensive line couldn’t support a five step drop, let alone a seven step one. Point being, this offense is set up for Bradford to explode in 2017 and the addition of Floyd shows that, while Treadwell (while capable of being an amazing asset, don’t get me wrong) is an example of what the offense was with Bridgewater (ie, he doesn’t have a deep ball).
Beyond that, the Vikings would rather push Teddy’s contract extension off as much as possible as that is a pretty sticky situation. Obviously, a team would rather not pay a QB’s salary if they didn’t have to and considering that they have a lot of other contracts to deal with, the later they deal with Teddy the better (especially considering the gaudy numbers fellow 2015 QB draftee Derek Carr just receiver from the Raiders (who took Carr a few picks after the Vikings took Bridgewater)). That’s assuming they keep him, and I really do think that the Vikes are using 2017 as a test to see what they’re going to do come 2018 and beyond (and who they’re going to do it with). Bradford has one year left on his contract and considering how much the offense revolves around him I wouldn’t be surprised, at all, if the Vikings sign him and trade Bridgewater next (off)season for picks or a player and picks. A young Jay Cutler netted two first round picks from the Chicago Bears almost a decade ago, so considering the premium that teams put on QB play, Teddy could be worth a ton out in the market and the Vikings are run by a guy who loves to amass first-round picks (or vice versa in Bradford).
Then there’s the case of Teddy’s health. The longer he can sit and recover the better it’ll be for him. This wasn’t your run of the mill knee injury, it wasn’t an MCL or ACL. It was basically everything in and around his knee. So, considering the fact that the Vikings have a quarterback who they’ve built the entire offense around (for good reason) and that they have an incentive to keep him on IR for 2017 financially, they’d be completely insane to rush him back and risk him re-injuring his left leg. That, of course, could change at any time if Bradford were to get injured, which is honestly what I fear like crazy. He’s got a history of injury and it just seems like a perfect Vikings move if he were to get hurt after a season where he was hit more than a … thing that gets hit a lot. Ugh. Terrible.
So, I want Teddy back, too, but when it makes sense and when he’s ready. While I do prefer Bradford over Teddy (because of his ability to hit receivers down the field) for the future of the franchise, I wouldn’t be mad if the Vikings did the opposite and traded Bradford for picks (actually, the opposite of trading Teddy would be to Trade for his opposite which would be… Oh god, Christian Ponder!) in 2018. There are countless options (because I can’t count to two?) and for the first time in franchise history, the Vikings have two near-elite QB’s that are under 30 years old. With that said, though, let’s not let emotion get in the way of reason and let’s not blow Teddy’s statements out of proportion (or out of context). Of course, he is itching to come back and is showing signs of a quicker recovery than a lot of people expected. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to be back or that we even need him back right now. Let’s not take a great situation and turn it into a negative one by forcing this Teddy vs. Bradford narrative (that I just wrote about myself? Crap!), at least until next off-season, preferably around the end of June to Mid-July when things are slow.