There used to be a show on ESPN called Numbers Never Lie, but one day they decided to up and change that title to His & Hers. While some may think it was simply changed to emphasize the genders of the two hosts, I’m one to believe the change was the result of all involved realizing how numbers lie all the dang time.
I’d like for you to try an experiment, if you will. Log onto Google this instant and enter Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford into the search bar. An inspection of the headlines that appear would make you believe Bradford was the man in Minny.
The ESPN.com selection reads “Sam Bradford Makes his case for the future with Vikings”, while the the fan site Viking Age says “Sam Bradford Shatters Minnesota Vikings and NFL records for accuracy.” Reading those headlines in a vacuum devoid of NFL TV and any football coverage whatsoever, you might think Bradford was the man. But he really ain’t.
People have long been hoping and cheering that Sam Bradford would return to some semblance of the promise he exhibited while attending the University of Oklahoma, back when he was named player of the year by multiple publications and won the Heisman Trophy. Remember that incredible 50 TD and 4720 yard season? However, four years as a St. Louis Ram saw him injured a great deal. He did show some promise there, but never led the Rams to the playoffs nor did they ever finish over .500 either.
Then, the “What the Hell, Why Not?” Philadelphia Eagles brought him in as their starting quarterback in a deal that shipped Nick Foles, a 2015 fourth-rounder pick and a 2016 second-round pick to St Louis. He played most of the season for the Eagles, but that experiment didn’t last long, either. Once Carson Wentz was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, Bradford began clamoring for a departure. Toasted and roasted for his unwillingness to compete, Bradford’s man card was on the verge of being revoked.
But, at least initially, he appeared to be just what the Vikings ordered at quarterback when promising young signal caller Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending injury. The first five games of the season made the Minnesota brain trust look clairvoyant as the Vikings went 5-0 out the gate, with Shaun Hill leading the offense from under center in their first game of the season. But, just as the cream rises to the top, so too does the doo-doo in a toilet bowl.
The Vikes looked like lil’ tikes in losing four games in a row, and only winning three of their remaining seven games to go 8-8 on the season. I understand the need to tie a pretty bow around a horrible season by painting Bradford as being nicer than he actually is. After all, a completion percentage of 71.6 is exceptional. But what seems to get left out with all the smoke blowing is Bradford’s average yards per pass attempt is only 7.02 yards, good for 19th in the NFL. In others words, he gets drunk off the dink-and-dunk. His 3,877 passing yards is 16th in the league and his overall passing attempts are 14th.
Before the purple faithful get their horned helmets all disheveled, nobody ever said Sam Bradford was a horrible quarterback, but there appears to be a concerted effort to frame this one historic accomplishment as substantial or worthy of notice, and it is.
However, in every other category, Sam Bradford is a middle of the pack quarterback even at his very best. Last year Teddy Bridgewater led this same team to an 11-5 record and a wild card berth. But it’s looking like that 71.6 completion percentage has bedazzled some folks. This was a playoff team last year, now it isn’t. Yet, Bradford is getting very little blame for that, and I find that curious to say the least. P.S. Please don’t blame the resignation of Norv Turner for this teams horrible play, either. They lost most of their games without him.