HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – When Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down with a gruesome knee injury during the tail end of training camp, it was a mystery just how successful the 2016 Vikings could be without their franchise signal caller.
Sam Bradford, now with his third NFL team was brought in to be the band-aid for the Vikings offense that would have been a NFC contender had Bridgewater been healthy.
Bradford was acquired from Philadelphia just before the start of the season for a pair of draft picks and was placed in the unenviable position of learning another offense in a short period of time. Which is something Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner prepared for upon his acquisition.
“We have changed a few of the calls to make them a little bit easier for him to say as opposed to real long, drawn out (calls),” Zimmer said. “We started using a few code words in there. I think all those things have helped. He has done a remarkable job getting ready.”
Bradford admitted that the subtle changes in the play calls have helped him pick up the offense quicker than normal.
“(Coach Zimmer) has been great about incorporating more words, code-wording things for me, things that I’ve done in the past, which really helped because the first week here, just trying to learn the play calls and the system and everything, it was very challenging,” Bradford said complimenting the Vikings staff.
The play call changes seem to have paid off as Bradford has impressed in his brief three-game tenure with the Vikings. The Vikings are 4-0 with three wins belonging to Bradford. In his three starts he has a completion percentage of 69.5% and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
The Vikings lead the NFL in turnover differential as they have just one turnover in four games to their 11 takeaways. Zimmer was drawn to Bradford’s ability to take care of the football and getting rid of the football quickly and has been pleased with his ability to not do too much.
“He has done a really nice job getting the ball out when he needs to, when he’s getting pressured, if he has to throw it away he will, get it checked down to the backs, all those things,” Zimmer said. “Our coaches have done a nice job of not only that part but preparing him to get ready to play in a short period of time.”
Bradford’s play has impressed Texans head coach Bill O’Brien who also praised his ability to prepare for a new offense in a short period of time.
“He’s an extremely accurate passer. I think that’s his number one quality in addition to his, obviously being a highly intelligent guy to be able to do what he’s doing,” O’Brien said. “To come in when he did, which I think was basically after training camp or right near the end and to be able to go in there and run Coach (Norv) Turner’s offense, that says a lot about him and he’s doing it very well.”
Not only are the Vikings winning without Bridgewater, but without their all-pro running back Adrian Peterson who is out for the season. Coach Zimmer admitted that they’ve been in situations already where they didn’t have Peterson, but losing Bridgewater could have been a devastating blow to his team had they not acquired Bradford.
“When Teddy got hurt it was a complete blow to everything. Then we made the trade to get (Sam) Bradford, and I think that got the guys excited again,” Zimmer said.
Bradford hasn’t had a lot of success in his NFL career as he’s dealt with a variety of injuries and has played on some bad teams having never started a postseason game. He may get his chance in 2016 as the Vikings are currently among the NFL’s elite.
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