Written by: Jack H. Day – Staff Writer (@GrandstandDay)
When the Minnesota Vikings elected to trade away their 2017 first round pick for a quarterback that hasn’t had tremendous success in the NFL, it left a lot of people scratching their heads. With that being said, the move the Vikings decided to make to bring Sam Bradford into Minnesota was the best thing they could have done after losing Teddy Bridgewater right before the regular season started.
Bradford came out of college as a Heisman trophy winner, being drafted first overall by the St. Louis Rams in 2010. Number eight has always had the talent to do great things ever since he entered the league, but injuries and mediocre teams have put a damper on the amount of talent Bradford has as a pocket passer. The Minnesota Vikings started the season out as the hottest team in the league at 5-0, but finished the season 3-8. For Minnesota fans, 8-8 was a great finish considering they lost Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, and the majority of their offensive line, but after looking like Super Bowl contenders going into their Week 6 bye, .500 is a bitter pill to swallow.
Sam Bradford historically had the best season of his career, even with all of the key injuries to the Vikings offense. Imagine what Bradford could have done if he would have had a healthy Adrian Peterson, and an offensive line that would have had two starting tackles to protect him. Even without those key elements to the offense, Bradford threw for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns, and an NFL single season record 71.6 completion percentage. Now some will say that Bradford broke this record because of all the short passes he threw throughout the duration of the 2016 season. That is somewhat true, but with virtually zero starting offensive lineman in front of him, he had to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers as fast as possible. People who say that the record is not impressive just because of the amount of short passes he threw are wrong. When Bradford was given time in the pocket, he showed that the accuracy of his deep ball was just as good when he would air it out to his weapons like Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, or Cordarrelle Patterson.
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) December 24, 2016
It is time for people around the league, fans and analysts alike, to realize how good Sam Bradford can be. He just went down as the most accurate passer in league history for any given season, and there are still people doubting the Vikings decision to trade for him. He just had a historic season, and there is still a lot of room for improvement within Bradford’s game. Whenever a record is broken at this level, it is impressive. No matter how many short passes Bradford threw trying to get away from pass rushers that walked right through the Vikings offensive line, he still broke a record that was originally set by the future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
To put the 71.6 completion percentage into perspective, here are a few names that everyone knows, and their completion percentages in 2016.
Cam Newton: 52.9
Andrew Luck: 63.5
Derek Carr: 63.8
Aaron Rodgers: 65.7
Tom Brady: 67.4
To say that the record is not impressive is completely crazy. The season Bradford had was not only the best of his career, but it was also the most accurate season anyone has ever had. Look at the names on the list above, and you will realize how impressive this record actually is.
Without Sam Bradford, the Vikings would have struggled to win 3 games this season. Of course, the solid defensive play helped the Vikings offense tremendously, but if Bradford wouldn’t have been traded for, the Vikings offense would have been no threat whatsoever. With the amount of injuries that occurred in 2016 to the Vikings offensive line, fans have to be thankful that Bradford was able to stay healthy throughout the entire season. The fans should be optimistic heading into the 2017 season, with such an accurate passer returning under center.