EAGAN, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury has come a long way since Green Bay Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark ate his lunch on national television.
In fact, Bradbury was so porous in pass protection during that Monday Night Football game last season that Pro Football Focus gave him a pass blocking grade of 0.0. In other words, Bradbury played a full 60 minutes, and did almost nothing right when it came to protecting quarterback Kirk Cousins.
It was completely fair to worry about Bradbury’s career as that point. He certainly wasn’t living up to the expectations that come with being drafted in the first round.
Luckily for Bradbury, he has flipped the narrative this season, establishing himself among the NFL’s best at his position.
Not only has Bradbury gone the whole season without allowing a sack, after struggling in primetime as a rookie in 2019, he played arguably the best game of his career in Monday’s 19-13 victory over the Chicago Bears. He finished with an overall grade of 88.6, according to Pro Football Focus, who ranks Bradbury as the No. 5 center in the league.
What’s changed for him?
“There’s nothing like experience,” Bradbury said. “Having more Sundays under my belt and seeing more defenses is kind of the biggest thing.”
More timid as a rookie, Bradbury has no problem now barking orders on the offensive line before each snap. As offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak put it, “He’s the quarterback up front that doesn’t throw the ball.”
“You can see his growth in calling the game up front and getting us all on the same page,” Kubiak said. “He’s done a hell of a job. Our players really respect him and respect his work habits. He’s turning into a fine leader, as well.”
That iss something Cousins has noticed, too, as Bradbury has been masterful at identifying different fronts, and then communicating things at a moment’s notice.
“He has a good sense of, ‘When can I make the change? When can I (re-identify)? When do I need to just let it ride?’ ” Cousins said. “As a rookie, maybe it was a Josh Kline or somebody who would help him. Now it’s really on Garrett, and it’s kind of his show. It’s been fun to see him take that command because he’s got a knack for that and has done a great job with it.”
As for Bradbury, he refused to take credit for his growth, instead highlighting the tutelage of Kubiak, offensive line coach Rick Dennison and assistant offensive line coach Phil Rauscher, as well as the rest of the offensive line.
“It’s just trying to have the same approach of, ‘I want to be better this week than I was last week,’ ” Bradbury said. “It’s the same scheme, the same coaches and the same faces. That continuity of it is awesome.”