The Minnesota Vikings were dealt a huge blow just before the regular season got underway when Teddy Bridgewater tore up his knee and was put on IR. Shortly thereafter, the Vikings traded for Sam Bradford, sending the Eagles a first- and fourth-round pick in exchange for the quarterback. Coach Mike Zimmer understandably sat Bradford in favor of the more experienced and familiar Shaun Hill in Week 1, but it’s time to make a change. This is going to be Bradford’s team going forward, so make it happen in Week 2. He’s the better quarterback and deserves to start. Here are five reasons Zimmer needs to make that happen on Sunday against the Packers.
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Shaun Hill is 36 years old and injury-prone
The Vikings have two quarterbacks under contact who have a chance of being the team’s future at the position: Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. Shaun Hill is not one of them, and it might even be a stretch to say Bradford is; with Bridgewater’s injury, though, there are questions about his future. Hill is 36 years old and is in his 15th NFL season. As a result, he’s taken a lot of hits, some of which came on Sunday against the Titans. Hill is an injury-prone guy who very well could have been knocked out of the season opener with a handful of additional hits. There’s no sense in putting Hill, a somewhat fragile veteran, at risk of suffering an injury in Week 2 when there are only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. That’s not to say Bradford is the most durable guy, but he’s going to win the job eventually. Why risk his backup getting hurt in Week 2?
Excitement for home opener
The Vikings are opening their shiny new stadium on Sunday night in primetime against the Green Bay Packers. The stage doesn’t get any bigger than that, so who is Mike Zimmer going to treat fans to under center? Shaun Hill? No, the future at quarterback in 2016: Sam Bradford. The fans deserve to see the guy who will hopefully lead their team to a playoff berth in the home opener, and it’s not as if Zimmer would be making a mistake by doing so. Bradford is the better quarterback by most measures and is the more exciting player, simply put. Zimmer needs to stop dancing around the situation and name a starting quarterback for Sunday.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY SportsBrace Hemmelgarn
The offense was horrible in Week 1
Make no mistake about it, the Vikings’ offense was terrible against the Titans. Hill completed just 54.5 percent of his passes for 236 yards with no touchdowns despite Tennessee’s secondary being one of the worst in the league. Furthermore, his inability to complete passes with any sort of consistency hurt the running game, too. Adrian Peterson had one of the worst games of his career, carrying 19 times for a measly 31 yards. When it comes to offensive struggles, they’re typically pinned on the quarterback, and that’s the case here. Sure, Hill threw for 236 yards, but that came on just 18 completions. Had it not been for big plays made by Stefon Diggs, his yardage total would have been far less. Additionally, the Vikings had just 15 first downs compared to 19 for the Titans. If the defense doesn’t return two turnovers for touchdowns, we’re sitting here talking about Hill’s inability to lead an offense and a loss for the Vikings.
Running lanes will open for Adrian Peterson
The last thing Minnesota can have happen is defenses stacking the box against Peterson. He’s the sparkplug that makes this offense go, and without him breaking off 10-yard runs every now and then, the Vikings are not going to move the ball. In 19 Week 1 carries, Peterson’s longest rush went for nine yards. Opposing defense aren’t going to feel threatened with Hill under center, which is why the Titans could afford to load the box with eight-plus defenders. At least with Bradford at quarterback, teams have to account for his superior accuracy and quick reads. He didn’t have the best season in 2015, but Bradford is still a relatively accurate quarterback who can complete passes in bunches. If Minnesota wants to regain its hard-nosed running style with Peterson, it’ll need to make a switch at quarterback to open running lanes.
He’s going to be the starter eventually
The Vikings didn’t trade a first-rounder in 2017 and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 to have Bradford sit on the bench. If they did, well, that’s a whole different story. Bradford is going to start for the Vikings this season, whether it’s this week or in Week 7 (please don’t wait until Week 7, guys), and he’s now had over two weeks to get acclimated to the offense. There’s no better time to roll out the red carpet for your next starting quarterback than in primetime against the Packers – arguably the biggest game of the year for Minnesota. The sooner you can get Bradford in a game to build chemistry with guys likePeterson and Diggs, the better. Some might argue that Hill should start until he loses, but he didn’t win Sunday’s game against the paltry Titans. The defense was the driving force behind that, not Hill. It’s time to usher in the Bradford era and quit the silly waiting game.