The comparisons between Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater are as natural as they are unfortunate.
They're natural, of course, since one was supposed to be the starting QB for the Vikings this season and the other suddenly is. This sort of comparison happens all the time.
They're unfortunate since it's impossible to do a true side-by-side comparison. We can't simultaneously play out one version of the season with Bridgewater as the Vikings' QB and one with Bradford.
So while there is hesitation to "go there," let's face it: Plenty of people are already there, even after one game at quarterback for Bradford. With that in mind, we asked Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus about both quarterbacks when we had him on the line during Monday's Access Vikings podcast.
Here are some main points from Palazzolo during our conversation about Bradford vs. Bridgewater — keeping in mind that in light of Adrian Peterson's updated injury news the QB position might be even more important that it was just a few days ago.
1) Going into this season, the two QBs were quite similar. Bradford graded as the No. 12 QB on PFF last year, while Bridgewater was No. 13.
"Bridgewater was more on that Alex Smith spectrum. Not a ton of great throws, not a ton of bad ones. Ultimately it's about what you value. And to be honest, Sam Bradford is very much in the same vein," Palazzolo said.
"I think the backlash Bradford has gotten is similar to the backlash Bridgewater has gotten. He's not a guy that's really elevated his teammates through the years and put up these gaudy stats. ... All these unexciting things that Sam Bradford does are very similar to what Teddy Bridgewater does."
2) Sunday against the Packers, Bradford was clearly more than that.
"The Sam Bradford we saw Sunday night was a step above that," Palazzolo said. "He made some special throws under pressure. That touchdown he threw on the post while getting hit, I mean that's just an incredible throw. That was the best I've seen of Sam Bradford, and we like Sam Bradford more than most.
''… If you get the Bradford form Sunday night, that was pretty special — especially given that he was pressured on almost half his dropbacks."
Indeed, Bradford made the kinds of throws that Bridgewater typically did not make in his first two season — exceptional tosses that displayed touch, poise and arm strength. Of course, they were also the kinds of throws Bradford hasn't typically made. So …
3) Let's not say that version of Bradford will be the norm instead of the exception after just one game.
"If I can ignore Sunday night for a minute and say maybe that's the top end of Bradford's play instead of the norm [then] I think what you can expect is something very similar to Bridgewater: the ability to move the chains at the 15-yard level, the checkdown on the shallow cross that Norv Turner loves so much, the checkdown to the running back when necessary," Palazzolo said.
4) Even if Bradford does excel this season, it doesn't mean Bridgewater wouldn't have done something similar.
"I think Bradford will ultimately put up better numbers this year just because I thought Bridgewater also would," Palazzolo said. "And I think the Vikings are going to be OK especially if the defense keeps playing as well as it has."