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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: No more excuses: Vikings have put Sam Bradford in position to succeed

By Judd Zulgad

The circumstances could not have been more difficult for Sam Bradford a year ago. Unhappy in Philadelphia, and destined to fall behind first-round pick Carson Wentz on the depth chart, Bradford was dealt to Minnesota eight days before the regular season after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a catastrophic knee injury.

While Bradford was granted his wish to be the unquestioned starter, he also had to learn a new offense in a matter of days. He did not play in the opener in Tennessee in an attempt to give him more time to absorb the Vikings’ scheme.

A year later, things could not be more different for Bradford.

Because of that the 29-year-old finds himself entering a career-defining season in which we will learn whether the top-overall pick in the 2010 draft is destined to be considered a game manager or whether circumstances and misfortune held him back during his time with the St. Louis Rams and Eagles.

To put it simply: Bradford has never had it as good as he will this season.

This is not to say that everything is perfect, but any NFL quarterback who expects his surroundings to be perfect likely has found another line of work by now. The Vikings have bent over backwards to put Bradford in a position to succeed.

The Vikings won’t enter a season beholden to Adrian Peterson’s idea of how the offense should run for the first time since Mike Zimmer took over as coach in 2014. The once-dominant running back is gone, replaced by a backfield of Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon that will be a far better fit for the West Coast system the Vikings want to run.

That system has been installed by Pat Shurmur, who was promoted to offensive coordinator this offseason after holding the interim job following Norv Turner’s messy departure last year. This is the third time Bradford and Shurmur have worked together since the former entered the NFL out of Oklahoma.

Bradford and Shurmur had the entire offseason to work on the installation of a system that will have quality receiving options in Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and Michael Floyd, when he returns from a four-game suspension. The Vikings also are hoping that 2016 first-round pick Laquon Treadwell can go from bust to contributor.

Perhaps most importantly, Bradford will have an almost entirely new offensive line with only Joe Berger returning and he is moving from center to right guard.

Bradford’s contract is up after this season and the Vikings are basically begging him to make them give him a massive payday and send the recovering Bridgewater elsewhere.

Bradford’s critics will point to the fact that Checkdown Sam led 12 drives in the preseason that resulted in three points.

That will be forgotten on Monday night, if Bradford can pick apart the long-suspect New Orleans defense. Bradford has the ability to do it. He showed it at times last season, especially early on before injuries and inept play caused his offensive line to turn into a dumpster fire.

Bradford received praise through his first four starts, as the Vikings got off to a 5-0 start, but the 3-8 finish that followed created all kinds of question marks. The Vikings will have an opportunity to make everyone forget that collapse if their standout defense plays up to its capabilities and Bradford can lead an even-competent offensive attack.

This much is certain: Bradford won’t have any excuses to hide behind if he fails to hold up his end of the bargain this time.

The post Zulgad: No more excuses: Vikings have put Sam Bradford in position to succeed appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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