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Bradford trade has been an early win-win for Vikings and Eagles

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After three weeks, two NFC teams sit undefeated.

Sam Bradford has been on both rosters this season.

The Vikings (3-0) and Eagles (3-0) each are faring pretty well since the early Saturday morning trade on Sept. 3 that sent Bradford to Minnesota in exchange for a 2017 first-round pick and a conditional 2018 fourth-round pick.

While you can still hold the barstool argument over whether the Vikings traded away too much for Bradford, the deal has undeniably left both teams on solid ground at quarterback.

For Philadelphia, the Bradford trade cleared a path for second-overall pick Carson Wentz, who has shown the preseason talk about a potential ‘redshirt’ year was either cautious on the team’s part or, on the skeptic’s side, a way of upping Bradford’s value while awaiting the inevitable NFL quarterback injury.

Wentz  has been impressive to start his career, putting together his best performance on Sunday in a 34-3 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The North Dakota State product topped 300 passing yards for the first time and did so by completing 74.2 percent of his passes (23 of 31) with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Through three starts, Wentz is leading the NFL’s second-highest scoring offense (30.7 points per game) with a 64.7 completion rate for 769 yards, five passing touchdowns and no picks.

And he’s closing in on Tom Brady’s record of 162 attempts to start a career without throwing an interception. Wentz is currently at 102 attempts.

In Minnesota, Bradford has stepped into an offense catering to his strengths. Even before Adrian Peterson suffered a lateral meniscus tear during Bradford’s first start against Green Bay, his first two carries from the new quarterback came out of the shotgun.

With space to survey the field, Bradford has been able to play mistake-free with two varying game plans from offensive coordiantor Norv Turner. Against the Packers, Bradford thrived taking shots downfield as he averaged more than nine yards per throw and found receiver Stefon Diggs for gains of 25, 44 and 46 yards.

Bradford got the ball out quicker against the Panthers. With more injuries thinning the offensive line, Bradford succeeded with shallower route concepts and didn’t attempt a pass 20 yards beyond the line. As a whole, the Vikings’ one-sided offense sputtered as 11 of the team’s 13 first downs needed to be picked up by Bradford. They converted just 3 of 12 third down attempts.

But Bradford, and his budding rapport with both tight end Kyle Rudolph and Diggs, have been a few of the offense’s bright spots through three weeks. A willingness to stand in the pocket and take a hit while throwing also hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates and coaches. His mistake-free play has also been critical for a Vikings team that now leads the league with a plus-8 turnover differential. Only two offenses, the Eagles and Vikings, have gone three weeks without a turnover.

Like Wentz, Bradford has been without an interception with his new team. He has completed 40 of 59 passes for 457 yards and three touchdowns in two games.

Not a bad start.

Vikings guard Alex Boone underwent testing on injured hip, 'should be OK'

The Vikings might have dodged another blow threatening to keep an already-shuffled offensive line together.

Left guard Alex Boone, who left Sunday’s win in Carolina with a hip injury, underwent an MRI and “should be OK,” according to head coach Mike Zimmer.

“I mean, I won’t know until we get out there and practice,” Zimmer said. “But, from what I understand he’s doing better.”

Boone played just 19 snaps before leaving the game in the second quarter. He’s had an uneven start since the Vikings guaranteed him $10 million on a four-year deal signed in free agency last spring, though the line needs as many healthy bodies as they can after losing Mike Harris this summer to an undisclosed illness and left tackle Matt Kalil to injured reserve with a torn labrum in his right hip.

Up next would be Jeremiah Sirles, who the Vikings acquired a year ago in a trade with San Diego. Sirles made his first appearance against the Panthers, filling in for Boone at left guard for 35 snaps.

“Number one, he plays a lot of positions,” Zimmer said of Sirles. “And we gave him a lot of work at guard this last week anyway, so. He went in there and did a really good job — got to the second level, did a nice job in pass protection.”

Also on the injury front, rookie tight end David Morgan was forced to leave Sunday’s game with a knee injury. Zimmer only said he wouldn’t need to be placed on injured reserve.

In other news, Zimmer said he’s already thrice traded messages with one of his mentors and Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells after the Vikings’ statement win against the reigning NFC champion Panthers.

“He texted me right after the game and he texted me this morning at 5:30, and he called me after that,” Zimmer said. “I’ve talked to him three times, I guess. He’s giving me advice.”

The 24-hour rule of moving onto the next week is apparently more like 12 hours for Parcells.

“He’s not real complementary all the time, but he’s telling me how we keep going,” Zimmer added. “He didn’t tell me if he watched the game or not, we just talked about moving forward.”

Retired and up at 5:30 a.m.?

“Oh yeah, he said he’s so invested in this team he had to go get a workout in to get the stress relief,” Zimmer said.

On takeaways, the Vikings’ +8 differential leads the NFL: “You know we’re really careful about it. I want our team to be a fundamentally sound, disciplined football team and I think more times you can get pressure on the quarterback, it allows you to do those things. But some of it is … you’re going to get opportunities in every ball game, whether it’s a tipped ball or we were fortunate [Terence] Newman caught one, we were fortunate Trae Waynes caught the one on the sideline. A lot of the times, the receivers are so much better doing those things than we are, but a lot of times it comes down to pressure and the quarterback throwing it a little bit behind the guy and also being tight in coverage, too, that helps.”

On defensive continuity: “I typically don’t do this, but in the last ball game, we had one of the pressures that we practiced a lot, but didn’t have in the game plan this week. I went over to the guys and said, ‘Hey, are you guys good with this?’ They said yeah, so we ran it.”

On stopping the run: “I think Shamar Stephen has made a big impact on that, obviously along with Linval [Joseph]. Our ends are playing well and the linebackers have been doing a good job in the fits. There’s been times the safeties get involved pretty good, too. I think it’s been a combined effort, but I think if you said one thing, I would say Shamar Stephen has really solidified that.”

Final, 9/25 1 2 3 4 F
Minnesota 3-0 2 6 8 6 22
Carolina 1-2 10 0 0 0 10

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