For the Minnesota Vikings, the preseason has gone about as well as they could’ve hoped. They sit at 3-0 and have shown noticeable improvement in nearly all aspects of their team. Most importantly, quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater have played very well in competition for the starting position. Monday, the Vikings named Cassel the Week 1 starter, a decision that could come back to haunt them.
The Vikings have enjoyed one of the greatest careers at running back the NFL has ever seen. Adrian Peterson is entering his eighth season and has already surpassed the ominous 2,000 carry plateau. While he has changed the way we think of recovery and sustainability at his position, expecting that to continue much longer is pretty irresponsible. It’s for that reason that Bridgewater should start right away.
A great running back serves as a young quarterback’s best protection. Defenses have to react to play action fakes with Peterson, allowing for more time and space for Bridgewater. If Peterson can be snuck in behind the linebackers in those play action sets, he becomes a lethal target on fairly easy throws as well. All this is worthless, however, if Peterson is not 100 percent if and when Bridgewater takes over.
If the Vikings are in win-now mode, Cassel makes sense. He’s steadier and has much lower downside compared to his rookie counterpart. That being said, does anyone really think Minnesota can win more than two playoff games with Cassel as their quarterback?
As the answer to that question is probably “nope,” doesn’t it make more sense to get Bridgewater as many reps as possible with Peterson lined up in the backfield, especially considering the number of those reps is more finite than ever? Bridgewater is obviously the quarterback of the future, so why not let him start that future with the cushion of one the greatest running back in Vikings history?