Blaming Bradford – Fair or Unfair?

Blaming Bradford – Fair or Unfair?

The Minnesota Vikings’ losing virus (six of their last seven games) has their fans trying to find who is most responsible for the team’s vomit-inducing fall. Some are pointing the finger at quarterback Sam Bradford. The six-year veteran was acquired by general manager Rick Spielman days after Teddy Bridgewater blew out his knee, an injury  so severe some wonder if the QB will be ready to play in 2017.

Bradford came with a heavy price tag. Spielman gave up a first-round pick in 2017 and a fourth-round pick in 2018 that can become a third- or second-rounder based on conditions.

It looked like the trade was going to pay off in a huge way. In Bradford’s first game he broke a team record for most passing yards in a quarterback’s first game as a Viking (286). The team won their first five games and no one had a bad thing to say about the new QB.

Now now.

[graphiq id=”7YveJJMCttX” title=”Sam Bradford 2016 Season Passing Stats” width=”600″ height=”654″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/7YveJJMCttX” ]

As the losses have piled up, some fans and media members are pointing to Bradford’s lack of mobility as part of the season he’s faltering. While yes, Bradford’s play has declined, he is clearly not at fault for the faltering Vikings. Sam Monson, Lead Analyst at Pro Football Focus, recently wrote that Bradford’s drop in play is almost a direct correlation to the injuries and deteriorating pass protection the Vikings have gone though. (We recently reported on the injury epidemic at Minnesota.)

Monson notes that when left tackle Matt Kalil was lost to injury the drop off to his replacement T.J. Clemmings was catastrophic. Pro Football Focus grades Clemmings as the fourth-lowest offensive tackle over a full season since that website began grading players in 2006. Even with the Vikings new offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, scheming to have Bradford unload the ball quickly, Clemmings is still a massive liability. Monson writes:

Bradford now has the league’s fifth-fastest average-time-to-throw figure, at 2.3 seconds and that number has only been getting smaller as the year has progressed. He has the league’s lowest average depth of target, at 6.5 yards, lower even than pathologically conservative Chiefs QB Alex Smith. There is no offense in the game that makes life easier for its offensive linemen in terms of how long they have to block for, but the Vikings, and Clemmings in particular, just can’t hold up.

The contagion that is the offensive line has infected the Vikings’ run game, too.

[graphiq id=”lxx7bimSvB3″ title=”Minnesota Vikings Rushing Yards Per Game Comparison” width=”600″ height=”502″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/lxx7bimSvB3″ ]

Monson makes another strong case for giving Bradford immunity. When under pressure, Bradford’s passer rating (87.5) is the third-best in the league behind only Tom Brady (93.6) and Russell Wilson (88.9).

One other thing, some media people in Philadelphia wish Bradford was never traded. Matthew Coller writes that after Carson Wentz’s hot start he “has been the worst quarterback in the NFL.” Coller believes that Bradford would have fared much better with the Philadelphia Eagles’ horrible offensive line than the rookie. “Bradford’s numbers for the Vikings look varsity vs. Wentz’s JV stats,” observes Coller.

Monson and Coller make a strong case that despite the dramatic duress Bradford has endured he’s doing all he can to keep the Vikings playoff dreams from dying.

 

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Aldo Gandia

Aldo Gandia

Among my career highlights I have produced two films while in high school that received nationwide attention; leaned out of a helicopter over the Gulf of Suez at the age of 20 to shoot movies of oil rigs; won an Emmy award for a sports special and another for a kid's fitness show; and led a team of very talented creative professionals to produce break-through corporate communications.


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