No Teddy Bridgewater? No Problem: Don’t Write the Vikings Off Yet

Teddy Bridgewater of the Minnesota Vikings warms up before their game against the San Diego Chargers, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on August 28, 2016

The Minnesota Vikings lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a serious knee injury in Tuesday’s practice. His season is over.

But assuming the Vikings season is over due to this injury might be a mistake.

“Everybody can count us out, but I think that’d be the wrong thing to do,” said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

He’s probably right.

The Vikings are loaded, a team with as much talent surrounding the quarterback position as any in the league.

“The thing we all have to remember is this is about the team — we have a good team,” Zimmer said.

This isn’t just coachspeak. The Vikings roster is stacked. One weakness last year was their offensive line, and they fixed that by signing two of the best free agents available — right tackle Andre Smith and left guard Alex Boone.

And Bridgewater, when healthy, is a solid quarterback, but not a star. In his first two years in the league, Bridgewater was a game-manager executing a very conservative dink-and-dunk passing attack to compliment perhaps the NFL’s best running back, Adrian Peterson.

Their backup quarterback Shaun Hill can manage the game. In other words, he doesn’t mess things up with risky, bone-headeded interceptions.

Often quarterbacks in their mid-30’s do their best work, because they play high on the growth curve at perhaps the most mentally-challenging position in all of sports — NFL quarterback. Examples include Jim Plunkett and Rich Gannon, who were journeyman like Hill, but took the Raiders to Super Bowls in the their mid-30s.

At 36, there isn’t much Hill hasn’t seen. This is so helpful at this exceedingly difficult position.

“I have confidence in Shaun,” Zimmer said. “I think he’s played great this preseason.”

Hill has an average arm, that is true. But Bridgewater isn’t known as a rocket-armed quarterback either.

And Vikings are likely to add another veteran game-manager, somebody like Josh McCown, via a trade, as insurance in case Hill struggles.

And whether Bridgewater was healthy or not, the 2016 Vikings were going to be spearheaded by their top-shelf running game and stingy defense.

They just need a quarterback to play efficiently to compliment these two strengths.

Hill (or a McCown-type) has the skill set to do just that.

Are the Vikings going to the Super Bowl?

Probably not, but it’s likely a mistake to think their season ends after losing Bridgewater.