Minnesota Vikings starting QB Teedy Bridgewater is out for the season and maybe beyond after he tore his ACL and dislocated his knee during a non-contact drill at Vikings practice. An ambulance was immediately called to take Bridgewater to a local hospital. Even before the full extent of the injury was known everyone knew it to be extremely serious. Vikings teammates were visibly upset in the immediate aftermath.
The outpouring of support for Bridgewater has been universal:
As of now career backup QB Shaun Hill will be the Vikings starter. Recently released Bard Sorensen was brought back to provide some cover at the position. It is widely expected that the Vikings will look for outside help to strengthen the position. However, the consensus seems to be that the season is not lost.
The Vikings return an excellent defense which should only be improved this season. This offseason the Vikings took steps to improve their wide receiver group as well as their offensive line. Mike Zimmer is widely regarded as an excellent coach who will be able to hold the team together. And then there’s Adrian Peterson. Even with the absence of Bridgewater the Vikings are still expected to be able to challenge for the NFC North championship and to make a possible playoff run.
This may all be true, but there’s really no need to insert “even with the absence of Bridgewater”. Early last month Mike Zimmer addressed and dismissed criticism directed towards Bridgewater by many fans. For many Bridgewater is simply a low-upside game manager who the Vikings rely on to just not lose. Bridgewater has also heard criticism from other NFL teams. And such criticism dates back prior to the 2014 NFL Draft in which the Vikings chose Bridgewater with the 32nd pick.
Some of this criticism is misplaced and unfair, such as when former Vikings WR Mike Wallace said he was glad to sign with the Baltimore Ravens because he now had a real quarterback. But not all of it. Yes, Bridgewater was named to the Pro Bowl following last season. His inclusion was also considered largely undeserved after he finished 13th in the NFL in Total QBR, 7th in the NFC. He also finished 23rd in QB Rating among full-time starters. Entering the offseason Pete Prisco of CBS Sports ranked Bridgewater as the 23rd best QB in the NFL.
He may have been vastly improved this season but to this point Teddy Bridgewater has not shown himself to be an elite NFL QB. And by all indications the Vikings were not going to rely on Bridgewater to lead them to victory. Perhaps he would have been counted more than a game manager, but probably not much more.
Bridgewater’s injury is horrific and terrible for him. It also makes the Vikings worse. But it’s not the end of the world because the Vikings field an excellent team around Bridgewater. And also because Bridgewater really wasn’t that good.