A storyline is brewing.
On Sept. 11, the Vikings will open the 2017 season by hosting the Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. The two teams will battle on a national stage as part of the *Monday Night Football *double header.
Minnesota for the first time will face former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, and the league's top two record holders for completion percentage will meet under the lights.
After joining the Vikings less than a week before the 2016 regular season, quarterback Sam Bradford went on to complete 395 of 552 passes (71.6 percent) to break the previous completion percentage record of 71.2, which was set by Saints quarterback Drew Brees in 2011. Brees at that time effectively broke his own record, 70.6, from the 2009 season.
During an ESPN media conference call with *Monday Night Football *Producer Jay Rothman and commentators Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters, Vikings.com asked Gruden to offer a comparison between the two play callers.
Gruden started out by opining that Brees will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The 38-year quarterback over his 16-season career is 5,836-of-8,758 passing for 66,111 yards, 465 touchdowns and 220 interceptions.
"He's as good a quarterback as you'll ever get to a chance to watch play," Gruden said. "He's a great athlete. Nobody understands what a phenomenal athlete he is.
"He has incredible body quickness," Gruden added. "He is such a football master. He understands defenses. He has great recognition. He can make all the throws. He's a Hall of Famer."
But Gruden doesn't brush Bradford off.
In assessing the 29-year-old's seven seasons that have included three different teams and two significant knee injuries, Gruden spoke highly of Bradford.
"When I studied Bradford, he should get a medal," Gruden said. "He might be one of the toughest guys we've got playing."
In 2016, Bradford recorded a career-high 3,877 passing yards and 20 touchdowns, while only throwing five interceptions. He also was sacked 37 times behind a Vikings offensive line that was ravaged by injuries. In four of Bradford's six active seasons, he has been sacked more than 30 times on four different occasions. Brees has only experienced 30-plus sacks during two seasons since 2001.
"[Bradford] got pummeled last year," Gruden said. "He showed up, had to learn an offense, very short notice. He won some games for the Vikings."
Added Gruden: "He took a lot of shots, major shots, and I commend him for getting up and keeping the Vikings alive until deep in the season."
The ESPN commentator and former NFL head coach said that he's not counting Bradford out but that other factors will affect his potential success.
"I'm hoping the new revamped Viking offensive line, the addition of Dalvin Cook and (Latavius) Murray, can offset the loss of Peterson and help him," Gruden said. "He needs to be protected better for him to flourish like Drew Brees has. He just hasn't had that."