Sam Bradford has a good case for being the NFL’s best quarterback in Week 1.
Pro Football Focus gave Bradford its highest rating for opening week. ESPN’s QBR statistic, which weighs game situation along with numbers, scored him a 93.9 out of 100, edging out Kansas City’s Alex Smith for the top spot.
Only Smith totaled more yards and had a higher quarterback rating with a 148.6, but Bradford topped the league in yards per attempt at 10.8 and completion percentage at 84.4%
A deeper dive into Bradford’s numbers reveals just how impressive his start to the season was. On third downs, he went 9-for-11 with 103 yards and two touchdowns and completed all five passes over 20 yards, including a touchdown.
Bradford wasn’t under duress as much as last season, but when he was, he had a perfect passer rating per Pro Football Focus.
How do Bradford’s numbers compare to the best games of his career?
Here’s something that stuck out: Monday night’s 346-yard performance against the Saints ranked sixth in Bradford’s career. The top five highest games in total yards all came in losses and the top four came in double-digit losses.
The Vikings’ quarterback registered his highest career QB rating versus the Saints. Of his top five games in QB rating (in games with more than 20 throws), only one came before 2015.
Last season’s Week 5 win over Houston ranked second (123.1) and his debut win over Green Bay was fourth (121.2).
In games with more than 20 throws, Bradford had never topped 10 yards per attempt until Monday night (10.8).
Bradford’s 84.4% completion percentage was the best of his career. His second best came against Detroit last year, but he only averaged 6.1 yards per attempt in that game.
Results this good would be tough to sustain, but much of Bradford’s success came on throws to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, which seems to be a recipe for success. The two combined for 16 catches on 18 targets for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Last season, Bradford had a 75% completion percentage when throwing to either Thielen or Diggs.
Bradford and the Vikings will look for a strong follow up next week when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.