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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Vikings take another step toward committing to Bradford as the future

By Judd Zulgad

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Sam Bradford’s outstanding play in his first four starts as the Vikings’ quarterback, resulted in plenty of speculation about the team’s plans for the veteran.

Bradford, the top-overall pick in the 2010 draft by the St. Louis Rams, was acquired by the Vikings a little more than a week before the regular season and only days after Teddy Bridgewater crumpled to the ground during a practice because of a dislocated left knee and other structural damage.

Bradford did not start the opener – Shaun Hill guided the Vikings to a 25-16 victory at Tennessee – but he took over in Week 2 against the Packers and played better than anyone could have expected.

Bradford completed 88 of 125 passes for 990 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions and had a 109.7 passer rating in victories over Green Bay, Carolina, the Giants and Houston. Peter King, a well-respected NFL columnist for Sports Illustrated, declared after Week 4 that Bradford was his MVP choice for the first quarter of the season.

This led to discussion about whether Bradford had finally found the right fit after disappointing stops with the Rams and Eagles. The 28-year-old, he will turn 29 on Tuesday, had signed a two-year, $35 million contract with the Eagles in March. His base salary is $7 million for this season and $13 million (with a $4 million roster bonus) for 2017.

The logical conclusion was that if Bradford was considered the long-term solution in Minnesota that the Vikings would look to extend that deal this coming offseason. The counter argument revolved around Bridgewater and what the future holds for him.

It’s widely known that Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is a huge Bridgewater fan and the Vikings did make a trade to be able to select Bridgewater with the final pick in the first round of the 2014 draft. Bridgewater took over as the Vikings’ starter in the fourth game of his rookie season and was seen as the team’s franchise quarterback until the injury occurred.

The concern now is whether Bridgewater will be able to return to being a productive player after having suffered such a serious knee injury.

So which direction are the Vikings leaning?

That became clearer on Wednesday when offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned after losses to Philadelphia and Chicago in which the offense took a major step backward.

This was due in part to terrible play by the offensive line and in part to the fact that it appeared Bradford was asked to take deep drops more often after functioning in more of quick-rhythm West Coast system in his first four starts.

Turner’s exit means that Pat Shurmur ascends from tight ends coach to interim offensive coordinator. Don’t be fooled by the interim tag; Shurmur’s the permanent choice.

Shurmur was hired to join the offensive staff last January even though he was not given a title. The Vikings eventually settled on naming Shurmur their tight ends coach but the reality was he always was going to be involved in establishing the offensive scheme.

Shurmur became even more important when the decision was made to deal a first- and conditional fourth-round pick to the Eagles for Bradford.

Shurmur had been Bradford’s offensive coordinator in St. Louis during the quarterback’s rookie season and again last season with Philadelphia. Shurmur’s influence was obvious as Bradford thrived in helping the Vikings to a 5-0 start and clearly the Vikings feel the best decision is to ride the Bradford-Shurmur combination for as long, and as far, as it can take them.

That means a long-term commitment in Bradford is likely to be made in the coming months. This is now the Bradford and Shurmur show and everyone else is going to be playing a supporting role.

That also means if and when Bridgewater recovers enough to be a starter again it’s unlikely it will be in Minnesota.

The post Zulgad: Vikings take another step toward committing to Bradford as the future appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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