What Teddy Bridgewater injury means for Vikings

With QB Teddy Bridgewater likely to miss time, Sam Monson takes a look at backups Shaun Hill and Joel Stave.

| 4 weeks ago
Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

What Teddy Bridgewater injury means for Vikings


[Editor’s note: It has now been reported that Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee and torn ACL in Tuesday’s practice. The timetable for his recovery and return is expected to be “significant.”]

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down Tuesday in practice with a “significant knee injury,” and with him, likely any hope of the Vikings being Super Bowl contenders.

The cliché surrounding the Vikings this season—with an elite defense and a clear ability to run the ball via Adrian Peterson—is that they would go as far as Bridgewater would take them, and that statement may prove to be truer than ever if they are forced to turn to his replacements.

Shaun Hill is the primary backup, and is old enough to have NFL Europe experience under his belt—a league that ceased play almost a decade ago. Hill, to his credit, was once legitimately one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league. Back in 2010, he started 10 games for the Lions, completed 61.8 percent of his passes, and consistently graded well. In the five seasons since then, however, he has played a total of 540 snaps, grading poorly in 2014 in his only extended action, and is now 36 years old.

This preseason, he has attempted 25 passes against backups primarily, completing 17 of them (68.0 percent) for 192 yards without scoring a passing touchdown (though he did throw a pass this week that resulted in a fumble recovered for a score, and then threw a pass for the successful two-point conversion).

The tape shows Hill’s arm is now marginal, at best. Even in his prime, he never had a cannon, but age has taken its toll, and he has late-era Peyton Manning style limitations when it comes to putting the ball into tight windows. Like Manning, to have any success, Hill would need to be a step ahead when it comes to anticipation and reading a defense. Even at his best, Hill was never in Manning’s league in that regard, as most players aren’t, and so the effect of diminished arm strength is a greater problem than it was for Manning.

In 2014, Hill completed only 47.8 percent of his passes when pressured for a passer rating of 65.1. The average NFL QB is pressured on 33.6 percent of their dropbacks, and Bridgewater in 2015 led the league with pressure on 46.8 percent of his. The Vikings hope to have shored up their pass protection with their O-line moves, but the offense they run is going to cause pressure, and a QB that can’t excel in the face of it is going to sink.

The bottom line is that the Vikings, even leaning on Adrian Peterson like never before, aren’t playoff bound with Shaun Hill under center—but there also aren’t a lot of great alternative options readily presenting themselves.

Taylor Heinicke has been in a walking boot for the entirety of camp since tearing a tendon in his ankle, and the only other quarterback on the roster is Joel Stave, an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin. Stave actually graded relatively well in his final season at Wisconsin—posting a better mark than Cowboys preseason superstar Dak Prescott—but he hasn’t had nearly the same immediate success in the NFL, and has yet to record an above-average preseason outing.

Whatever his long-term prospects, it seems likely we would need to see another injury—or catastrophic run of play from Hill—for the Vikings to consider throwing Stave into the game with the first team.

Outside of in-house options, the Vikings are down to panic-buying in the free-agent or trade market. There are few attractive options out there, with players like Josh McCown an all-too similar prospect to Hill. Broncos QB Mark Sanchez may be available, and has at least been deep into the playoffs in the past, but he just lost a three-way QB battle to a player that hasn’t thrown an NFL regular-season pass and a rookie, and wasn’t even able to look good within Chip Kelly’s offense, which has inflated almost every QB’s numbers.

Maybe Mike Glennon could be moved from Tampa Bay, but likely not without significant trade collateral heading in the other direction; plus, Glennon is far from a sure thing, and is more so a young player that has flashed ability in the past. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick may well become available, and would be intriguing within this offense that likes to attack deep and could benefit from a QB willing, if not eager, to take off and make things happen when his first read isn’t open. Norv Turner’s offense has always looked a little better when he feels he needs to prop up a flawed quarterback, and Kaepernick would fit that profile, but he now comes with a weight of baggage after his national anthem protest, and has an awful lot of bad tape on his résumé.

The bottom line here is that teams don’t find Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks at the end of August without getting staggeringly lucky. The Vikings were gearing up to chase a ring, and were relying on Teddy Bridgewater improving to make it happen. Without him in the line-up—if he is forced to miss significant time—that just became a pipe dream, and the best they can likely hope for is a strong chase for the playoffs, only to be unceremoniously dumped from the postseason once the big teams start to play for real in January.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • nonono

    Damn Sam… I know you’re hurting right now lol

  • crosseyedlemon

    E.J. Manuel would also fall into the flawed QB category and it’s pretty evident that he has no future in Buffalo.

    • eYeDEF

      Only a team with no future would trade for EJ Manuel. He’s been given plenty of chances and has proven he’s not a starter in this league. I’d take my chances with an unproven before starting EJ Manuel.

      • GA27

        Exactly, E.J. is bad quarterback, his tape against Jacksonville is proof he isn’t starter-caliber

  • SkolBro

    It don’t matter, We’ll still easily win the division and the confereence!
    SKOL!!!

    • The Big Cheeze

      …..another delusional purple puke….is there something in the water there??…..LOL

  • Bwigbwadbwob

    The vikings weren’t going to win the NFC North this season, even if TB was healthy. Chasing a Super Bowl ring is the stuff of fantasy and Adrian Peterson’s imagination.

    • ANonnaMoose

      Wow. What an amazingly dumb thing to say. Do you even actually watch football?

      • The Big Cheeze

        LOL…..do YOU actually watch football??…..everything Bwig said is true….

        • ANonnaMoose

          I suppose you would think it true if you weren’t very bright. Hence your response.

          • The Big Cheeze

            the truth is…..you purple pukes were joyous when Jordy went down…whether you cowards admit it or not……well….HENCE……karma’s a b!t[c]h….b!t[c]h

          • ANonnaMoose

            Well, that’s a lie. There’s only one player out of 53 on the Green Bay roster that matters, and it isn’t Jordy Nelson. Nobody celebrated when he went down.

            However, we can clearly remember the way Green Bay fans celebrated when Brett Favre needed to be helped off the field at TCF Bank in 2010 or the way they celebrated when Adrian Peterson blew out his knee in 2011 (before the thing with his kid, so that’s no excuse). I bet Packer fans still have Korey Stringer jokes, too, because that’s just the sort of fans they are. “Whether you cowards admit it or not.”

          • The Big Cheeze

            LOL!!….what a typical jealous, packer-emulating purple PUKE…..contrary to YOUR delusional views on which Packer players are relevant….Jordy Nelson happens to be THEE best all-around WR in the NFL…..wait ‘n see, fool…….

          • ANonnaMoose

            Just show how absolutely limited your football knowledge is by putting a 31-year old receiver coming off of a serious leg injury ahead of guys like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Allen Robinson, and Dez Bryant (who caught it). Jordy Nelson is better than exactly zero of the receivers I just listed. He wasn’t better than any of those guys before his injury.

            And who on earth would want to emulate the Packers? Their fans are disgusting bags of garbage that cheer for injuries and mock the deaths of players on opposing teams. Nobody would be so stupid as to emulate that.

            With that, I fear this conversation has to end, as I’ve taken in just about as much of your stupid as I can handle.

          • The Big Cheeze

            typical jealous, packer-emulating, purple-puke response….you minne-CHOKE-a hillbilly rubes are all alike….criticize players from the mighty Packers….then…when they’re available…scoop them up like a drunkard at a punch bowl….why do you think your previous, and now new metro-DUMP is referred to as “Lambeau West”?…..LOL!!!!…face it, fool….you will NEVER win a championship…..by the way….in Green Bay….we’ve got betting pools going as to how much dust will accumulate in the “trophy room” of your new metro-DUMP….LOL!!!

        • David Rodenborn

          You must’ve been born in Wisconsin…typical loser state minus the Packers.

          • The Big Cheeze

            you must have been born in minne-CHOKE-a……so…..I’ll….type…..really…….slow…..

    • Brian Tveita

      Ah they are the defending North champions who went to GB’s place week 17 and knocked off the packers with 99 yards passing from TB, they were neck and neck with the packers to win it again, Even with Shawn Hill they could still win it.

      • Bwigbwadbwob

        Not this year. This year, the Packers win the NFC North. TB was not as big a part of the vikings game plan as most would think. The running game played a big part in their winning as well as their defense. Still, it perplexes me and many others as to why the vikings did not draft a QB in this past draft knowing how fragile TB was.

        • 81TinaKane

          I certainly know/think it was mistake that they didn’t address the back up QB situation. I do think you are mistaken though, teddy was being given more responsibility on the offense and in the preseason he showed improvement on weak points of his game. That said, I don’t think its a sure bet the packers walk to a division title as the Vikings team is strong. While I think any talk of a super bowl was premature, I do think with decent QB play the Vikings still win 10 games, now if Shawn Hill or anyone else they bring in plays bad, all bets are off and this could be a 6 win team.

          • The Big Cheeze

            LOL…..and if “ifs and buts…were candy and nuts….we’d all have a Merry Christmas”…..LOL…..you base your predictions on a lot of hypotheticals…..LOL….I guess ANYONE could do that…the bottom line is….the mighty Packers have OWNED the North Division…and will continue to do so…by the way….stinkwater’s not very good anyway….slow release….prone to INT’s….so whoever takes over at QB, you’ll still be LOSERS….it’s GOD’S way…..God is a Packer fan…LOL

          • Bwigbwadbwob

            Didn’t Teddy hurt his shoulder in the Seattle game last season? I believe he did. I think his off season conditioning was actually physical therapy so he could rehab his shoulder and be able to throw the ball downfield better. Now this injury puts him out for the season and probably into next season, too. Teddy’s injury is worse than what Jordy Nelson suffered. I feel for the guy.

          • 81TinaKane

            There was no talk of his shoulder being hurt in the seattle game nor the offseason, regardless, teddys injury is bad, (think shawn livingston basketball player, same type of injury) i would guess once they do the surgery they will see more damage. Ill make this prediction, teddy will need to rehab for 18 months an will never be the same player again

      • The Big Cheeze

        LOL…..you purple fools think the division is your Super Bowl….LOL…..the Packers went further in the playoffs…(as they do EVERY year)…and ultimately, were rated HIGHER than minne-CHOKE-a….LOL…check your stats, fool…..look at the draft list….LOL

        • 81TinaKane

          meh keep drinking cheezer, remember the Vikings went in to the holy lambeau field and took home the division against your apparently superior in all aspects team that needed a hail marry to get into the playoffs to begin with, speaking of choking, I think Larry Fitzgerald is still running through that packers defense

          • The Big Cheeze

            …it’s pathetic how you purple LOSERS criticize Packer fans for living in the past…..yet it’s exactly what you losers do….even though you’ve NEVER won anything….LOL…..we wipe our asses with those division banners…that YOU losers hang up in your metro DUMP….LOL

          • The Big Cheeze

            ….and by the way…..speakin’ of drinkin’….I think I’ll crack me a cold one….and toast the 13-TIME-WORLD-CHAMPION GREEN…..BAY….PACKERS!!!!!!……LOL….

          • ANonnaMoose

            It’s just the same stupid garbage we hear from Green Bay every year. Nobody has any chance of improving, except Green Bay. Nobody drafted or added anyone worthwhile, except Green Bay.

            Being a Green Bay fan isn’t about cheering for the team. It’s strictly about looking down your nose at everyone else, whether you’re actually better than them or not. Most ignorant fans in the league.

  • Samuel Charles

    Haha, Teddy’s hurt.

    Lions are gonna finish 2nd in the division.

    Haha.

    • ANonnaMoose

      The Lions would have trouble finishing second in the B1G.

    • cka2nd

      Swine.

  • Tom

    Vikes fans to have no season. Packers add a home game at Minn.

    • The Big Cheeze

      ….they always have anyway…..nothing has changed…..losing noodle arm may be a blessing for the pukes……LOL

  • martin schmidt

    As a lifelong Packer fan just want to add to the best wishes for TB, can happen to anyone. Vikings are a very good team with a badass headcoach. Look forward to the fracas this year x2.