Every Wednesday morning, beat writer Matt Vensel will share five Vikings statistics that actually mean something. In Week 1, after the Vikings made a bold trade for Sam Bradford, all five stats are about the new QB.
33.2 — Bradford’s career completion percentage when pressured
For the Bradford experiment to work, the pass protection will probably have to be better than it was in 2015, when Teddy Bridgewater was often on the run. Bradford does not handle pressure well, completing just 33.2 percent of his career passes when flustered, per ESPN Stats and Info, which adds that among qualifying QBs only Geno Smith of the Jets has a lower completion percentage on under-pressure throws since Bradford entered the league in 2010. Bradford has completed 65.9 percent of his passes when he’s not under pressure, and his yards-per-attempt average increases from a NFL-worst 3.5 yards when pressured to 7.1 when he has time to throw.
41.5 — Bradford’s accuracy percentage on deep passes last season
Like Bridgewater, Bradford doesn’t chuck it deep very often. He usually threw short last season, whether it was a design of the Eagles offense or Bradford checking it down. Sixty-three percent of his passes were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. When he did throw deep, though, he was more successful than Bridgewater. He was accurate on 41.5 percent of his throws that traveled at least 20 yards down field, according to Pro Football Focus, which ranked 14th among qualifying quarterbacks. Bridgewater, meanwhile, ranked 23rd, though he had showed significant improvement in throwing the deep ball before his season-ending knee injury.
21 — the most touchdown passes Bradford has thrown in a season
Now entering his seventh NFL season, the 28-year-old has tossed as many touchdowns as he has earned millions of dollars in salary (78), according to ESPN Stats and Info. His career high in touchdown passes came in 2012 when he played for St. Louis. In 63 career starts, Bradford has averaged right around five touchdown passes for every four games.
82.1 — Bradford’s career passer rating when lined up under center
One significant subplot heading into 2016 was whether the Vikings would use more shotgun to cater to Bridgewater, whose passer rating on those plays was 26.4 points high than when he was under center. With Bradford, those career splits are much more balanced. Bradford, who has thrown more than twice as many passes out of the shotgun as he has under center, has an 80.4 passer rating out of the shotgun. Under center, he is slightly more efficient at 82.1. That indifference might actually be one benefit of the quarterback switch, as the Vikings want to be effective doing both.
6.5 — yards-per-attempt average for Bradford in his six seasons
Since 2010, Bradford’s rookie year, there have been 31 instances of a quarterback averaging 6.5 or fewer yards per attempt after starting at least seven games in a season. Bradford is one of three quarterbacks who are on that list, which I compiled with the help of Pro Football Reference, three times. The other two are Mark Sanchez and Matt Cassel. Bradford averaged 6.4 yards per pass in 2013 before tearing his ACL. After missing all of 2014 after tearing his ACL again, he averaged a career-high 7.0 yards per attempt with Chip Kelly and the Eagles last season. So perhaps Bradford is heading in the right direction in this telling statistical category.