Teddy Bridgewater was far from spectacular in his second NFL season. But the Vikings, with the league’s leading rusher in Adrian Peterson and coach Mike Zimmer’s top-10 defense, usually didn’t need him to be.
After the Vikings leaned heavily on Bridgewater in the second half of the 2014 season, he attempted more than 30 passes in just six games.
While Zimmer scoffed at the “game manager” label for Bridgewater, he was exactly that in 2015. He attempted a ton of high-percentage throws and was hyper-conscious of avoiding turnovers at the request of the coaching staff.
That allowed the Vikings to grind out low-scoring wins, and team success surely helped Bridgewater make the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement.
Overall, Bridgewater completed 65.3 percent of his throws for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns. He threw nine interceptions and lost three of his eight fumbles. He added 192 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Those passing numbers are pretty respectable considering the Vikings ranked last in the NFL in passing attempts. But expectations are high for the 2014 first-round pick, and the hope is he will take a leap forward this upcoming season after displaying slow, subtle progress in 2015.
Vikings free agents: All three quarterbacks are under contract for 2016.
Level of need: Low. The Vikings must produce a long-term backup behind Bridgewater and are receptive to taking a developmental prospect later in the draft. But Shaun Hill should be a suitable No. 2 for another season.
Stat that stands out:37.5 — Bridgewater’s accuracy percentage on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus. That percentage ranked 23rd in the league. Deep-ball accuracy has arguably been Bridgewater’s biggest weakness in his first two seasons.
Burning question: Will the Vikings utilize the shotgun more and put more back on Bridgewater’s plate? They favored a shotgun spread attack in the first four weeks of the season, but after Peterson struggled to run out of the shotgun, the Vikings operated under center more often after their bye week. Peterson said after the season that he needs to become a better fit in the offense, which suggests they could be shotgun-heavy in 2016.
Check out the Access Vikings blog tomorrow for a look at the running backs.