Vikings thinking big despite Bridgewater’s absence

Published 9:21 am Tuesday, September 6, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS — The lore of the Minnesota Vikings, with four losses in four Super Bowl appearances and five NFC championship game defeats since then, is marked by a long list of major letdowns.

The latest jarring blow came just before the beginning of this long-anticipated regular season, when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s left knee collapsed during a routine non-contact drill. The injury caused enough damage to keep him out for the rest of the year and put his 2017 season in question, too.

The massive injury to Minnesota’s popular leader was a devastating, emotional setback. Bridgewater’s absence hasn’t deterred the Vikings from thinking big, though. From coach Mike Zimmer’s inherent defiance to the bold trade made for Sam Bradford, the Vikings haven’t given up on their Super Bowl goal. Their window to win it all for the first time in franchise history is still open, albeit not as wide as a week ago.

Email newsletter signup

“We’re not going to stick our heads in the sand. We’re going to figure out a way,” Zimmer said. “Everybody can count us out if they want, but I think that’d be the wrong thing to do.”

Zimmer, inspired by the lessons learned from his late father, a long-time high school coach, and mentored by former boss Bill Parcells, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has always thrived with an underdog mindset.

He didn’t get his chance to be an NFL head coach until age 57. As the Vikings stacked up victories on the way to the NFC North title last year, Zimmer frequently mentioned to the team and to the media the external skepticism surrounding their success, even if some of that was simply made up.

So when asked after Bridgewater went down how the leadership void will be filled, Zimmer zoomed right past the accomplished veterans on the roster and wholly embraced the responsibility as his own.