When the Minnesota Vikings acquired Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles eight days before the start of the 2016 season, there were snickers.
When the news broke about what the Vikings had given up for the former No. 1 overall pick (2010), the laughter broke through.
A first-round pick for Sam Bradford?
Well, so far this season, Sam Bradford is getting the last laugh.
Less than one month after being acquired by the Vikings and getting the full immersion treatment with a new team with an entirely new offense and play-calling terminology, Bradford led the Vikings to a third-straight win as a starter and a 4-0 record to start the season.
Bradford’s effort in the Vikings’ 24-10 win over the Giants Monday night wasn’t spectacular — no one could ever describe Bradford as spectacular — but it was nearly perfect. It was certainly ruthlessly efficient.
Bradford hasn’t turned the ball over in any of the three games he’s started for Minnesota. Despite being in the Vikings’ system for less than a month, it’s clear that he has a full grasp of the Minnesota offense as well — he’s even adding some no-huddle, hurry-up, spread-look wrinkles to it now that Adrian Peterson is out of commission.
The Vikings should have been dead and buried this year, even with their spectacular defense. (And boy is it spectacular.) First Bridgewater. Then Peterson. That should have been a lethal 1-2.
It hasn’t mattered. In fact, the Vikings seem to be getting better despite the injuries.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner deserves a lot of credit for the Vikings’ success, but if you’re looking to single someone out, it has to be Bradford.
The former Heisman Trophy winner was never a bad quarterback — he was just a victim of exceptional expectations. Bradford received the most guaranteed money — $50 million — in NFL history before he took a snap. He’d have to be a perennial Pro Bowler to live up to those expectations.
Bradford has been in the league for eight years for a reason, though — he’s smart and can make all the throws necessary to win in the NFL.
Those two skills haven’t been shown off much over Bradford’s first seven years — the first five coming with the mediocre-at-best Rams and then last year with the Chip Kelly-run Eagles, a strange fit from Day One — but both are being put to the test in Minnesota.
It’s fair to say that so far, Bradford is getting an A.
Monday night, Bradford picked apart the Giants’ defense with accurate throws of various lengths and difficulties, all while staying cool, calm, and collected. He finished 26-for-36 for 262 yards and a touchdown.
This, without Peterson. This, with a backup left tackle starting. This, with the backup right tackle entering the contest early. This, despite having one proven receiver.
Sam Bradford isn’t some game manager — he’s making things happen for the team with the best record in the NFL.