The Minnesota Vikings had every hope of reaching their first Super Bowl since 1976, but now that a non-contact torn ACL has sidelined quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the entire 2016 season, expectations have flatlined – at least for now.
“It’s been really shocking and disturbing for a number of Vikings fans,” Twin Cities sports personality and KMOJ radio host Larry Fitzgerald Sr. said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Things were lining up for him. Here’s a team that made the playoffs last year for the first time in awhile, they had a young quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, who had a solid season, they had a defense that was just really getting better every game, and they got a great running back in Adrian Peterson, who came back and had another great season. So things were lining up for them and they were going to be even better. Now they’re going inside their incredible new U.S. Bank Stadium home and all of a sudden the craziness with what happened (Tuesday), a non-contact situation, and Teddy Bridgewater goes down with a rather serious injury.”
Bridgewater, 23, completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 3,231 yards, 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions last year in helping the Vikings to an 11-5 record and an NFC North title. In addition to tearing his ACL, Bridgwater dislocated his left knee, among other structural damage.
The Packers are now the clear favorites to win the division for the fifth time in six years.
“The first part of it is fans are just in shock that it happened, first of all,” Fitzgerald said. “Then what does that mean for the expectations that they have for the season? So it’s all sort of been a tough situation for fans to kind of get their grasp on. You’re also concerned about the health of Teddy, who’s a really good guy and such a young star who’s come along and doing everything right, and all of a sudden now you’re concerned about whether or not he’s going to not only be able to play in the NFL again, but whether he can come back from such a serious injury.”
Zimmer, 60, inherited a Vikings team that went 5-10-1 in 2013. He went 7-9 in his first season before going 11-5 last season.
It was Minnesota’s best finish since 2009.
“Mike Zimmer has come in and really established himself as a young coach who has players that are fighting for him and believe in themselves,” Fitzgerald said. “He knows he’s got a good team. He realizes that his players are fighting to try and establish what he is building for the Minnesota Vikings’ future. They’ve been around a long time, since 1961. They’ve been to the playoffs a bunch of times, but they’ve never won a world championship. But they believe the sky’s the limit this season. What he’s trying to do is to make certain that the players don’t lose sight of what their expectations are. Going into this year, all they talked about was no excuses. When you have an injury like what’s happened to Teddy Bridgewater, now all of a sudden people start saying, ‘Well, what do we do now?’ Well, he wants them to understand that he still expects this team to fight and believe in themselves. Yes, there’s going to be a tough period where you have to get over what has happened to Teddy Bridgewater. You feel bad for him. But yet, as professionals, we have to move on and do our jobs.”