Posted on August 31, 2016, by Travis Pulver
Minnesota Vikings fans have been looking forward to this season. Not only would there brand new billion dollar stadium be finished, but expectations for their team were high. Last season Adrian Peterson proved age is only a number (for some guys), that their defense is one of the better units in the NFL, and that with young Teddy Bridgewater getting better with each passing week the Vikings could be on the verge of something special.
But then it all came crashing down Tuesday afternoon at practice—Teddy Bridgewater blew out his knee.
He didn’t do anything crazy. No one hit him. He was just going through individual drills like he had done countless other times—except this time when he planted his foot he went down. Reports from eyewitnesses describe a pretty gruesome scene. Many players openly cursed, several dropped to a knee and began praying, and some were even physically ill.
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The injury was initially described as a dislocated knee which the doctors confirmed along with a torn ACL. So yeah—he’s done for the season. The question on the minds of many now is whether the Vikings are done too.
Football is a team sport so one would like to think the answer to that query would be no. With 11 guys per team on the field, it is easy to argue that what the individual parts can do together is what matters—not what any one individual part contributes over another. However, the reality of the game is that the contributions of some players is greater than others.
So far the Vikings appear ready to go with the next man up, who in this case is 36-year old veteran Shaun Hill. But is he enough? Throughout his career, he has never been able to earn the starter’s job. He’s had a few starts from time to time, but they came after the starter was injured.
He got them because he was the next man up; not because he had earned them. But can he be good enough to keep the Vikings playoff hopes alive?
Head coach Mike Zimmer seems to think so:
“I have confidence in Shaun,” coach Mike Zimmer said (ESPN). “I think he has played great this preseason. He has been in two-minute drills. He has done a phenomenal job, and the thing we all have to remember is, this is about the team. This isn’t about a one-man deal. We all feel terrible if it is significant, real significant, for Teddy, but this is about the team. We have a real good team.”
The Vikings do have a really good team and they could very well still be one. Last season the defense ranked 13th according to yards given up per game, but when it came to what really matters—points—they gave up the 5th fewest in the league (18.9 points/game). On offense, they were one of the least productive teams in yards (321.2 yards/game; 29th), but they did something with the yards they gained more often than not (22.8 points/game) (NFL).
Last season, the success of the team was due to the team’s No. 4 rushing attack led by the league’s leading rusher, Adrian Peterson. This season the Vikings were probably hoping to lean more on Bridgewater and less on the running game, but will have to turn to Peterson again with Bridgewater out for the season.
So–no Teddy, no problem?
Without Bridgewater the margin for error will be a lot smaller, but Hill will not have to do much in order to match the production Bridgewater had last season. Assuming the defense can play even better than last year and Peterson continues to be a beast—no Teddy will equal no problem.