“The guys here have been awesome,” Bradford said in his postgame press conference. “Any time you join a new locker room, it’s not easy at first. But these guys have had my back since Day 1. [Backup quarterback] Shaun Hill has been right there with me the last two weeks, every step of the way. He was with me with a previous team, so he can relate things [about this offense] back to what we did in the past. All the guys have been great, and I just wanted to come out and play well for them.”
This is the best Bradford has looked in years. He played well in the second half of last season, but most people likely remember how that year started, with Bradford struggling to find his way in the offense run by former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. Before that, Bradford was best known for his health problems in St. Louis, when he missed all of the 2014 season and nine games in 2013 because of two ACL tears in his left knee. Bradford was well on his way to journeyman status in the league. He’d already seen the Eagles give up on him after they selected Carson Wentz second overall in this year’s draft.
Sorensen’s addition comes a couple days after Minnesota decided to sit Teddy Bridgewater in their second preseason game, which coach Mike Zimmer said was his decision.
That was one example of Peterson and the team coming together to make a tough situation work. They could’ve walked away from each other, but didn’t. The team and Peterson overcame another challenging scenario when he was suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy in 2014.
Traditionally, the Vikings have been loyal to Peterson, and expect that to continue. The question does exist regarding what price the former MVP is willing to play for, but there is plenty of time to figure it out.
Hill, who went 18 of 33 for 236 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions, seemed comfortable with the uncertainty. The 36-year-old, who has spent a majority of his career as a second or third string quarterback, laughed off some of the typical slights that are often unintentionally hurled his way. When asked by a reporter if Zimmer simply asked him not to lose the game, Hill smiled.
“We all understand what it takes to win in this league,” he said. “I understand how this team is built, having spent the year with this team and seeing where our wins came from last year. There’s certainly a way to win in this league and a way to lose and coach Zimmer does a great job preaching how to win.”
Without their franchise quarterback and running back, the Vikings opened up 5-0 and were on pace for a Cinderella season thanks to Sam Bradford and a stiff defensive front. But following their Week 6 bye and an ill-fated attempt at a motivational metaphor, the Vikings lost five of their next six games and now rest on the outside of the NFC playoff picture looking in. Blame it on a turnstile offensive line, or an anemic ground game, or the departure of veteran offensive coordinator Norv Turner: The Vikings are not who we thought they are.
In place of the Nords atop the conference is America’s Team, reclaiming its throne as the NFL‘s gleaming star of a franchise. Led by a historically competent rookie duo in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas has rolled through nearly every team it has faced from the lowly Bears and cheap jerseys and 49ers to the playoff-pining Steelers and Ravens to their division rivals in Landover and Philadelphia. The Cowboys are unquestionably favorites to earn home-field advantage throughout the postseason and have an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot with a win Thursday night and some help on Sunday.
Peterson’s potential return in a must-win game versus the Green Bay Packers in Week 16 could be a boon for a miserable Vikings rushing attack. Behind a porous offensive line, Minnesota ranks last in the NFL with just 73.4 rushing yards per game.
After a 5-0 start, the Vikings sit at 7-6, two games back in the NFC North and a game back for the final wild-card spot. Minnesota likely needs to win out and get some help to make the playoffs, with tilts versus the Colts, Packers and Bears remaining.