Nothing can derail an NFL team’s chances quite like an injury to a star player in the preseason, especially when that player is your starting quarterback. Unfortunately for the Minnesota Vikings, that fear has become reality, as Teddy Bridgewater suffered a non-contact torn ACL at practice Tuesday. He will miss the entire 2016 season.
“Yeah, it was a wild day,” Minneapolis Star Tribune Vikings beat writer Matt Vensel said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The big story we were all kind of looking for when we showed up to practice was what was going to happen with John Sullivan, their longtime center because they had been shopping him. Twenty minutes into practice, we see Teddy go down untouched as he’s dropping back to pass. It was a somber scene. You saw players spiking their helmets and screaming curse words. Other guys dropped to their knees, whether they were praying or stunned by what happened. I’ve been covering the NFL in two different places for eight or nine years now, and I had never seen a coach just call practice – but that’s what Mike Zimmer did. Twenty-five minutes in, after a couple minutes of Bridgewater being down, he just told the players to go into the locker room and practice was done.”
Tests revealed that Bridgewater dislocated his left knee and tore his ACL, among other damage.
“At the very least, he’s out for the season,” Vensel said, “and we’ll see exactly what that other damage is as it relates to his availability for next year.”
Bridgewater, 23, threw for 3,231 yards, 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season. He also ran for three touchdowns and helped the Vikings win the NFC North. He’s not a great quarterback, but he’s a good one, and now Vikings won’t have him.
Can Mike Zimmer still coach this team to the playoffs?
“It’ll be an amazing accomplishment if he does,” Vensel said. “Bridgewater isn’t the best quarterback in the league. He’s a pretty good young quarterback. But if any team loses a starting quarterback, they’re pretty much screwed. Zimmer is a great coach. Not only is he great schematically with defense, but he’s proved to be a master motivator here. But it’s a hard sell to imagine them getting into the playoffs. I think they still could end up being a better team than the Bears and Lions, but it looks like the Packers are obviously the team to beat right now and probably the only team that’s going to make the playoffs out of this division, unless the (Vikings) have an all-time great defense here like the Broncos last year and they’re able to find a serviceable quarterback somewhere.”
The Vikings went 11-5 last year and came within a chip-shot field goal of beating Seattle in the playoffs. This year, they had a legitimate shot of winning the NFC North in back-to-back seasons for just the second time since the 1970s.
That no longer seems likely.
“Vikings fans will say this was just inevitable,” Vensel said. “They’ve gone through so much losing over the years. They might not be as tortured as maybe a couple other fan bases, but they’re certainly top five in terms of tortured fan bases. Many of them were like, ‘This season’s too good to be true’ as they were getting a bunch of Super Bowl hype. It looks like that’s going to end up to be true because things are not looking good without Bridgewater.”