Should Minnesota Gamble With Bridgewater?

Just two seasons after suffering a devastating knee injury during training camp, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is now back on the practice field. With that in mind, and the fact that he was activated to be the backup quarterback come week ten against Washington, should the team start Bridgewater at some point this season?

Ever since getting drafted in 2014 by the Minnesota Vikings, Bridgewater has proven that he has the potential to become a franchise quarterback in the NFL. Before suffering the significant injury, Bridgewater showcased his ability to throw the ball accurately downfield, maintained the ability to stay calm in the pocket when looking for open receivers, and displayed his potential to make plays with his feet when feeling pressured. Even though it is concerning that he has never thrown for over 20 touchdowns in a season through his four-year career, his decision-making on the field makes up for it.

In 2015, Bridgewater started all 16 games, throwing for 3,231 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and finished with a passer rating of 88.7. Not only did he show off his ability to throw the ball, but he also ran for 192 yards on 44 attempts, scoring three rushing touchdowns. Throughout the 2015 season, he had drastically improved his numbers from his rookie season. Even though he threw for the same amount of touchdowns, Bridgewater saw an increase in his passing yards, completion percentage, passer rating, and a decrease in interceptions.

Coming into 2016, everything was going well for Bridgewater. Expectations were high for him to lead the Vikings to the playoffs, but that was up until August 31st. On that date, while practicing at training camp, he suffered a non-contact knee injury. The MRI later revealed this to be a torn ACL with other structural damage, including a dislocation of the knee joint. After the injury, the team traded a first round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford.

With Bradford at the helm, the team averaged 239.8 passing yards per game, which placed 18th in the NFL. In 15 starts, Bradford threw for 3,877 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and finished with a passer rating of 99.3. Even though Bradford had a productive season stat-wise, the offensive line did not protect him well enough, allowing him to get sacked often.

This year, the team has averaged 238.5 passing yards per game, which leaves them currently at 14th in the NFL. Filling in for Sam Bradford, who has been dealing with knee problems ever since week one, Case Keenum has thrown for 1,610 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and has earned a passer rating of 88.8. Keenum has surprised everyone on the team by putting up some solid numbers, thus making the Minnesota quarterback situation trickier.

With the Vikings on a hot streak right now, the Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers for the rest of the season, and the Detroit Lions proving to be inconsistent, the Vikings are seemingly the favorites to win the NFC North this season, regardless of who takes the reins at the quarterback position.

When you compare Teddy Bridgewater to Case Keenum, it is pretty obvious who the better quarterback is, and the answer is Bridgewater. In Bridgewater, you are getting a quarterback that has proven to be capable of being a franchise quarterback for multiple seasons, and is able to put up consistent numbers. In Keenum, you are getting a guy that is nothing more than a backup quarterback, and it is difficult to trust him through a whole season.

Ever since returning to practice, Bridgewater has been making strides to come back in full form. Head coach Mike Zimmer has told the media that Bridgewater has been doing great since returning to practice, and if you’re a Vikings fan, that is amazing news to hear.

At the end of the day, the team is not going to go far with Keenum, unless proven otherwise come playoff time. Therefore, Bridgewater needs to start once the coaching staff feels that he is 100% ready. There is a chance that the coaching staff will wait until at least week 13 at the earliest to start him, just due to overall risk.

Photo Credit: Jim Mone/Associated Press

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