Teddy Bridgewater’s season-ending leg injury is only a day old, and already there have been tons of angles and perspectives about what it all means. Here is an attempt to tie all those things together and answer a bunch of questions in one place — one-stop shopping if you’re wondering what it all means.
1) What exactly do we think happened? This is probably the trickiest question to answer since it was a seemingly routine play, but basically: Bridgewater dropped back to pass during Tuesday’s practice at Winter Park, and somewhere during that process — without being touched — he suffered a complete tear of his ACL as well as what is being reported as a tibiofemoral dislocation. The fact that it was a non-contact injury is not surprising, medical experts say. Most ACL injuries happen that way. He was taken away by ambulance and sedated. He awaits surgery and a long recovery process.
2) What’s the prognosis for Bridgewater’s recovery? He is certainly out for the season. Again, without knowing all that will be found in the course of surgery, this question is a little tricky to answer in full. The fact that there is reportedly no damage to nerves or arteries is relatively good news, though the full recovery process from a torn ACL figures to take a year — pushing Bridgewater right up against the start of the 2017 season.
3) What does it mean for Bridgewater, football-wise? The timing is quite bad for a lot of reasons — the primary one being this was billed as a potential breakout season for Bridgewater. He had an encouraging rookie season in 2014 and a play-it-safe 2015 season in which the Vikings went 11-5 and won the NFC North title. The preseason chatter was that the Vikings could contend for a Super Bowl if Bridgewater took a big step forward. And in his most recent game, Bridgewater looked like a quarterback primed for bigger and better things. Instead, we’ll be left with lingering questions of “what if,” while Bridgewater will miss a full season of development.
4) What does Bridgewater’s 2016 absence mean for the Vikings? It means 36-year-old veteran Shaun Hill, at least in the short-term, becomes the starter. Joel Stave, an undrafted rookie free agent, is now No. 2 on the depth chart. Other positions will become more important. It means the Vikings will likely rely on much of the same game plan they used in 2015: a safe passing game, a strong running game and a stout defense. That was a winning formula a year ago, and in the best-case scenario this year’s team could probably still contend for a playoff spot with Hill under center. But barring a major QB acquisition or unexpectedly above-average play from Hill, the Vikings’ Super Bowl chances took a severe hit.
5) If the Vikings want to get another quarterback, who is out there? It’s a pretty thin group, though there are a couple of potentially intriguing players who could be available in a trade. One is 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, who has faded after leading a couple of deep playoff runs. Another is Mike Glennon, a backup in Tampa Bay. The Vikings have some promising history with Randall Cunningham (1998) and Brett Favre (2009) stepping in late to lead great seasons. But in general, Super Bowl-caliber QBs aren’t typically found in late August.