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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Remembering the 12 days that will shape the Vikings 2016 season

By Matthew Coller

The last 12 days may someday become an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary.

The time between Teddy Bridgewater’s season-ending knee injury to opening day has felt like a season’s worth of drama. The Minnesota Vikings put themselves at the center of the NFL’s news cycle by trading for Sam Bradford, then playing hide-and-go-seek with information about whether he would be starting Week 1. Most of the time, the week between preseason game No. 4 and the start of the regular season is a snooze fest. Not for the Vikings this time ‘round.

It was also my first week on the job. I was officially offered a position covering the Vikings by 1500ESPN on Aug. 12 and went through a Mad Max-like trip from Buffalo, N.Y. to Minneapolis, only to arrive on the day Bridgewater got hurt.

With the Vikings’ opener upon us, let’s take a look back at how we got here:

Tuesday, appx. 1:30 PM – News of Teddy Bridgewater’s injury breaks

My shirt is drenched in sweat and I’m annoyed that our new apartment complex embellished a bit when claiming each resident would have a patio. It’s more like a dirty 4×6 slab of concrete that might fit two deck chairs. False advertising. The box of the 16-foot Penske moving truck is probably pushing 100 degrees and we have to find a way to lower a futon down a hill. We take a break to make a run to (insert retail store here) to grab some essentials. That’s when I get a text from a former co-worker that reads, “OMG DID YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENED TO TEDDY?”

Oh, come on. I was afraid to even open up Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong, the Buffalo Bills and Tyrod Taylor are going to be pretty good this year, but I’ve spent the last six years professionally covering a team that trotted out quarterbacks like, in no particular order, J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb, Rob Johnson, Brian Brohm, Todd Collins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards, Jeff Tuel and E.J. Manuel.

The chance to get an up-close view of a young, talented quarterback on the rise was pretty exciting.


By the time we had acquired a shower curtain, bottled water, dog biscuits for my greyhound and paper towels, there was news of an ambulance taking Teddy to the hospital and Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer bringing up the loss of his wife seven years ago when talking about the injury.

This is bad.

As soon as it was clear Teddy’s life was not in danger, I took time to respond to all the Buffalonians on Twitter asking whether I had brought their sports curses to Minnesota. Turns out Minnesota has curses of their own. It’s wide left instead of wide right and the four Super Bowl losses are a little more spread out. It’s a 27-yard field goal by Blair Walsh instead of “No Goal” and your hockey team left while Buffalo’s was threatened by Los Angeles and Toronto until about two years ago.

Losing a promising quarterback on a team talented enough to compete for a Super Bowl appearance – that bumps Minnesota up on the sports-curse list.

So Shaun Hill is the only quarterback with experience on the Vikings. Now what?

Thursday, 6:00 PM – Enter US Bank Stadium

Hello gigantic new Xanadu stadium that looks like it was built for Zeus. The glass exterior makes it look like a glacier – or at least what glaciers used to look like before they all melted – sticking out of the ground in downtown Minneapolis. The top doesn’t open like a regular dome, nah, it’s cooler than that. Glass doors the size of your house open up to reveal the inside to downtown. Remember, I’ve been covering games in a stadium that was built in the 1970s, so I’m like Michael J. Fox discovering the hover board in Back to the Future 2 trying to figure out how to get inside.

The game hasn’t even started yet and reporters are already putting in ear plugs to drown out the Metallica-concert level PA system. Yeah, this thing is cool.

Thursday, 6:45 PM – Rick Spielman impromptu press conference

Vikings GM Rick Spielman gathers the press to talk about the team’s quarterback situation post Bridgewater injury. Poor Joel Stave, starter-for-a-night, is down on the field throwing warm-up tosses while his GM is upstairs telling the world they desperately need another QB.

“We have complete confidence in Shaun Hill,” the brother of former Lions legend Chris Spielman said.

He joked that acquiring a quarterback “isn’t like fantasy football” and said he wouldn’t give up major assets to get a quarterback.

Basically, the entire 15 minute presser would become ironic as hell by Saturday.

Still, nobody was thinking about Sam Bradford. The names being thrown around were Colin Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Mike Glennon, Mike Vick, Any Kind of McCown or McNown and a bunch of trash-heap worthy quarterbacks that would have been sell-your-tickets-on-StubHub worthy if they became Minnesota’s next starter.

Colleague Derek Wetmore was telling everyone that something big was coming. I apparently work with a prophet.


10:00 PM – Mike Zimmer postgame press conference

I sat next to Spielman in the back, who kept looking at his phone. We would learn later that he was already nipples deep in trade talks with Howie Roseman of the Eagles by then.

Zimmer waved at a group of fans who can watch his press conference through glass. “Can ya’ll hear me?” he said and got cheers back. Even his exuberance for the crowd had only a little energy. He doesn’t have a strong voice to begin with, but he exhaustedly cracked out a few sentences on how the team had four takeaways and no turnovers. But he might as well have been staring at Spielman’s phone too.

The only time Zimmer lit up was when he talked about Bridgewater being in the trainer’s room talking to teammates.

“It was good for not only us but for him as well,” Zimmer said with his first earnest smile of the week.

Saturday, 10:00 AM – Vikings trade for Sam Bradford

I’ll always remember where I was when the Vikings traded for Sam Bradford. Not because of the magnitude of the trade but because it was my first time at the Minnesota State Fair. Things you wouldn’t dream could be put on a stick were on a stick. I’ll confess something: I’ve never had a corn dog before Saturday. Pregame meal for my first appearance on the air on 1500ESPN.

My instant reaction was this: The Vikings made a great move because they are in their window to win. The Blackhawks traded a first-round pick for Antoine Vermette – which is insane – but they won the Cup and he scored a big goal so whatever. The Vikings couldn’t pull a Cowboys and tank for a high pick – not with this roster. They would end up 7-9 with Shaun Hill and basically have a wasted year.

Other instant reaction: It’s on. This season is going to be interesting. There’s a group of people that think Bradford is an overpaid, overrated pile of JaMarcus Russell and there’s a group who thinks he’s just had bad situation after bad situation and will finally thrive.

Any time you can have #TeamGuy or #NotTeamGuy, you’re in for some entertainment.

Plus, the Vikings’ chances to be great again shot through the roof.

And we finally got internet in the apartment after a bit of a customer service debacle. A nice guy named Robert sorted the whole thing out.


Saturday, 6:00 PM – Rick Spielman and Sam Bradford conference call

You people have no idea how hilarious conference calls are. That’s all I can really say, but if anyone ever asks me, “What does the media know that fans don’t?” I’m going to say that conference calls are filled with awkwardness that would make a 13-year-old boy at his first dance look comfortable.

Bradford has no idea what to say other than that he’s happy to be here. Spielman explains that he went through the Nine Circles of Hell to get this deal done.

Monday, 9:00 AM – Peter King drops “Oral History” of Bradford trade

Peter King is writing about the situation I just fell into. Cool.

That’s all.


Monday, 1:00 PM – Sam Bradford and Mike Zimmer speak with media

Remember when I said Mike Zimmer loves Teddy Bridgewater. Welll…..

“He’s here every day down here in the training room, same kid as he always been always with a smile on his face,” Zimmer said. Xavier Rhodes always comes in and unties his shoe. You know he’s sitting and you know he can’t reach his shoe, so Xav’ does it, and I was down there today and I tied it for him. I’m the shoe-tier now.”

Bradford is polite. Like, if your parents took him out to eat, he would order the cheapest thing on the menu so as not to be rude. He tried to explain, in a friendly tone, that learning a whole offense in a week is freaking impossible.

Wednesday, 11: AM – Media day

I’m skeptical about the pizza around here, but media day had pizza and it was alright. I talked about chicken wings with Laquon Treadwell, who played with Buffalo’s Chad Kelly at Ole Miss. Shaun Hill told everyone that this situation has been the story of his life and said he doesn’t read any of our stories. So hi Shaun!

“I don’t read anything that you guys write or turn on the television unless it’s Disney Junior, so unless it’s scrolling across the bottom of that then I’m probably not going to see it,” Hill said.

Thursday, 11:30 AM – Adrian Peterson press conference

Adrian Peterson wanted really badly to say, “guys, I’ve always had crappy quarterbacks so whatever.” But he didn’t. Instead he revealed that he offered his advice to Spielman, who very nicely said, “stick to running thx.”

Peterson has an interesting demeanor in his presser. He isn’t as straight laced as I expected. He messes with one reporter after a question about his slow start last year and makes a crack about how quiet Bradford was as a freshman at Oklahoma.

Thursday, 12:30 PM – Mularkey conference call

Let me paraphrase this conference call:

Mularkey: “We don’t care who’s starting, but we think it’s probably Bradford.”

Media: Why?

Mularkey: “Because he’s better duh are you serious?”

Thursday, 2:30 PM – Zimmer says Bridgewater’s surgery went well

Bridgewater’s status is certainly worth keeping an eye on because of Bradford’s contract. Spielman admitted that Bradford being under contract through 2017 was a factor in acquiring him, which indicated that Teddy might not be ready to go next year.

Also during this conversation, I asked Zimmer about eight-man fronts against AP and he started the answer with, “I don’t want to get too technical.” Summary of my face: –__–

(Zimmer actually gave a pretty good answer)


Friday, 11:00 AM – Zimmer final press conference of the week

The Vikings’ head coach revealed that he had named his starter. That was about all the detail he would give, but all week he seemed to get a little enjoyment out of telling the media he wasn’t going to tell the media. That was probably the only fun he had all week. Zimmer looked like a guy that really needed a night to just hang out to play Mario Kart for a few hours.

Friday, Ian Rapaport of NFL Network reports players have been told Shaun Hill will start

That solves that then. You might be thinking, “Oh, Shaun Hill, that’s boring.” But AH HA. I discovered this nugget about Hill the last time he was a starter: Sometimes he’s incredibly good, sometimes he’s incredibly bad. It’s rarely in the middle.

If we look at his QBR – the ESPN-invented stat that uses stats combined with game situations on a 1-100 scale, we find Hill had a high of 89.0 in a 52-0 win over the Raiders and a low of 17.7 in a loss to the Vikings. Three of his starters were over 68, while four of them were under 27. He only had one mediocre start out of eight, a 43.3 in a 24-0 win over Washington.


So strap yourselves in for Shaun Hill’s Week 1 Wild Ride.

As you’re reading this – Not sure what time

So it’s been a fast and furious first week. I met a lot of people whose names I’ve forgotten already and will call Hey Buddy for the foreseeable future.

I also have a feeling there will be plenty to discuss throughout the 2016 Vikings seasons.

Let me end by quoting Sam Bradford: I’m happy to be here.

The post Remembering the 12 days that will shape the Vikings 2016 season appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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