Sam Bradford isn’t just the Minnesota Vikings’ quarter-season MVP, he’s the MVP of the entire National Football League. That is, of course, just one man’s opinion. But that man is Peter King, a prominent writer in the sports journalism world.
And King isn’t the only one who holds that belief; our own Sam Neumann doubled down on the “take,” arguing that Bradford is the NFL’s most valuable player. To the Vikings, though, there are a handful of players who could hold that title.
The defense is a top-10 unit, Stefon Diggs is an emerging star, and Kyle Rudolph is finally living up to his questionable contract extension. Any of Minnesota’s 22 starters have a shot — no matter how small — at the title. Who does the Vikings Territory team (and a special guest) think deserves the quarter-season MVP?
Adam Warwas: Harrison Smith
To me, this is a very close call between Linval Joseph and Harrison Smith, mainly because they have both been so disruptive in the middle of that defense regardless of what play the offense is calling. They have both stopped the run and rushed the passer, showing versatility and putting fear into the opponents.
In the end, however, Joseph isn’t back there preventing big plays from taking the top off the defense like Smith is. He is earning every penny of that new contract, even without an abundance of splash plays, and he’s the leader of what is suddenly a very dangerous secondary.
Adam Patrick: Cordarrelle Patterson
The easy choice would be to go with Sam Bradford, Everson Griffen, or even Kyle Rudolph. But let’s shock the world and go with a player who still has been a very important factor in the Vikings starting 4-0 — Cordarrelle Patterson.
From the first game, where his long return helped swing the momentum back in Minnesota’s favor, to his play on Monday where he excelled as a gunner and was actually involved in the offensive game plan. Patterson has been willing to do whatever he is asked in order to help this team win and has actually been the embodiment of how Mike Zimmer would like each player on his roster to act.
Sam Neumann: Sam Bradford
It’s tempting to name a defensive player, but Peter King’s column got me thinking. I wrote a whole post basically defending his reasoning, but here’s why I think Bradford has been the most valuable player thus far:
He arrived in Minnesota a week before the season, debuted on national TV against Green Bay, and skillfully conducted an offense for three games with what has been a mostly atrocious offensive line and essentially zero running game.
He lost his starting left tackle and (actual) MVP running back, and didn’t miss a beat. No, he isn’t putting up Drew Brees numbers. Yes, the Vikings offense is average. But maintaining and average offense with those setbacks and a relative dearth of playmakers is impressive.
Harrison Smith and Linval Joseph are better players than Bradford. As are Griffen and Barr and probably a few others. But here’s why the argument doesn’t hold water with me: the strength of the Vikings defense is that they have so many elite players acting as one unit.
If you were to remove Smith or Joseph from the defense, there would be an impact, but it would still be a pretty good defense. Removing anyone from the defense would not have as big an effect as removing Bradford from the offense, and that single concept makes Bradford more “valuable” to this team.
Joe Johnson, President, PurplePTSD: Sam Bradford
When looking at the first four games of the season, games that the Vikings have won by significant margins each week, it’s hard not to say that the defense as whole is the MVP of the team. The problem with that is you can’t really choose one player that stands out on the defense; that’s how good they’ve been. Whether it’s Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Eric Kendricks or more recently Xavier Rhodes, the defense is so stacked and playing so cohesively that I really can’t pick a single player out of the 11 starters, or rotational players like Captain Munnerlyn or Danielle Hunter.
So, outside of picking coach Zimmer as the MVP, I have to say that Sam Bradford has had the largest impact of any single person on the team. While he didn’t play the first game of the season, he started his first game as a Viking exactly 15 days after the Vikings traded for him (the same amount of time that Josh Freeman had before his spectacular implosion in 2013). Bradford couldn’t have had more pressure on him than he did week two, playing against the Packers at the first regular season home game in US Bank Stadium, Bradford lit up the Packers defense and has been almost perfect in every game since.
After three games Bradford has exceeded any and all expectations by completing nearly 70% of his passes (69.5%) with 719 yards and a touchdown to interception ratio of 4:0. He has been extremely efficient, as his completion percentage shows and beyond that has been incredibly poised and clutch. After the Giants brought the score to within a touchdown in the fourth quarter Monday night, Bradford responded by driving the Vikings down the field and hitting Charles Johnson down the sideline with a perfect throw, the type of throw that brings a new wrinkle to the offense.
While the Vikings simply were looking for a neo-game manager with Teddy or Bradford, he has played well beyond that title and is an actual threat to the defenses we face. Whether it be down the field or across the middle to his favorite target, Kyle Rudolph (who is a close second in the MVP race, especially since Stefon Diggs has disappeared the last few games, which he tends to do when Peterson isn’t playing or he is being double covered).
Bradford’s arm has brought a new dynamic to the offense that it hasn’t had perhaps since the 2009 version of Favre. He has played so well that people are starting to wonder if we should trade Bridgewater, so that alone should tell you how important he has been to this offense and the team in general. He is the perfect quarterback for Norv Turner’s system and as he gets more comfortable with the offense, the sky really will be the limit for him and this team this season.