Tuesday Reflections: Is Garrett Bradbury a Bust?
Sunday’s performance has left us with many questions. What’s the meaning of it all? Why put ourselves through such heartbreak? Couldn’t we have been hockey fans? One question that just keeps coming back to me is whether or not we can declare that Garrett Bradbury is officially a bust.
Our first reflection takes on that pressing and depressing question. From there, we turn to the special teams before finishing off with a couple reflections on the defense.
Is Garrett Bradbury a Bust?
When Minnesota chose Bradbury in the first round in 2019, I was thrilled. My belief was that he’d come in and immediately solidify two positions. With Bradbury taking over at center, Pat Elflein would be able to shuffle over to a guard spot, perhaps allowing him to regain some of the promise from his rookie season. There’s nothing better than a two-for-one on draft day.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Elflein is no longer a Viking, and Bradbury may not have very long as our center.
In fairness, a more balanced offense would have helped Bradbury, as Zim acknowledged: “We gotta do a little bit more with the guards to help him at times as well. He’s a powerful, athletic guy. Hopefully we don’t throw the ball 40, 49 times.” Nevertheless, it’s discouraging to see that Bradbury was yet again our worst player on the offense. Per PFF, Bradbury finished with a Vikings-worst 37.4 grade. In a game where pretty much every lineman played poorly, Bradbury’s game stands out.
Are PFF grades everything? By no means. We can all see that he’s continuing to struggle, though. His anchor has always been terrible and there’s no sign of improvement. Can we continue justifying his dismal pass blocking because of his athleticism and upside in run blocking? Keep in mind that he’s already 26. It’s not like we drafted him super young and we can hope for 10 more years of play. If he doesn’t figure it out soon, he never will.
It may be time to acknowledge that Garrett Bradbury is a bust.
Special Teams Improvement
Yesterday, I noted that Greg Joseph and Jordan Berry were both excellent. I still feel that way. Go ahead and relive their best moments:
Now, I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t be enthused by these two. I’m merely going to point out that the specials played well overall.
How many dropped punt returns did we have? How many times did we totally blow the coverage? No issues with the long snapper? We experienced all of that last season (and more). Minnesota kept seven LBs not only because of the uncertainty surrounding Anthony Barr but also because they wanted better special teams tackling. They kept Dede Westbrook (despite the skepticism from yours truly) because they wanted someone who is confident catching punts.
On Sunday, the special teams were cleaner than both the offense and defense.
Zim’s Thoughts on The Defensive Performance
During the KC preseason game, Zim dialed up a safety blitz that left Bashaud Breeland on Tyreek Hill one-on-one. We all remember what happened. On Sunday, Zim went back to a similar play, leaving Breeland on Ja’Marr Chase:
Zim took accountability: “The one, honestly, was a bad call.” He clarifies: “I tried to blitz them in the 2-minute drill, and [Breeland] stared at the quarterback too long.” He still feels encouraged about the defensive performance: “And quite honestly, a lot of times you make a bad call, and (the players) make up for it because they do a good job making a play.”
I also think the defense played well, all thing considered. I love what Michael Pierce can do out there, and I like that Patrick Peterson can still inspire some fear in the opposition. What we need to see is better coverage from our CB2, elite play from Kendricks, and a little more from our DEs.
Kyler Murray is going to be a real test. The best way to slow down a dynamic QB is to keep him off the field. If the Vikings can control the field position and time of possession, the defense will be in a position to succeed. In other words, we need far better balance on offense. If we get it, the defense will have the wiggle room to make a mistake or two. I’m not super hopeful for this Sunday, but our formula involves far more balance on offense and a defense that can be opportunistic.
The Send Off
Well, there you have it, folks. Is Garrett Bradbury a bust? I’d like to think he isn’t, but it’s now time for him to take the next step. It certainly appears like he hasn’t. If he continues to play like he did on Sunday, Minnesota could be in for a long season. At least we have Mason Cole.