The Vikings' bye week comes at a convenient time to evaluate quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Not only are overall strides in his game evident compared to a season ago, but also, and perhaps more interestingly, he now has exactly 16 career NFL starts (the equivalent of one full season, of course).
While his overall statistics so far in 2015 won't dazzle anyone — for instance, Bridgewater is 26th in passing yards with 774 — some deeper metrics used by Pro Football Focus as well as the Total QBR statistic have him among the top 10 of NFL quarterbacks this season.
That's important to remember as I delve into the following statistical analysis: Bridgewater's first 16 starts compared to the first 16 starts of five other young quarterbacks throughout Vikings history:
Bridgewater's first 16 starts (8-8 record): 324 of 497 (65.2 percent), 3,543 yards, 16 TDs and 14 INTs plus 54 runs for 241 yards.
Christian Ponder's first 16 starts (6-10): 293 of 484 (60.5 percent), 3,188 yards, 21 TDs and 17 INTs plus 46 runs for 301 yards.
Tarvaris Jackson's first 16 starts (8-8): 231 of 407 (56.8 percent), 2,482 yards, 11 TDs and 16 INTs plus 77 runs for 382 yards.
Daunte Culpepper's first 16 starts (11-5): 297 of 474 (62.7 percent), 3,937 yards, 33 TDs and 16 INTs plus 89 runs for 470 yards.
Tommy Kramer's first 16 starts (7-9): 296 of 539 (54.9 percent), 3,263 yards, 23 TDs, 26 INTs plus 34 runs for 102 yards.
Fran Tarkenton's first 16 starts (3-13): 207 of 376 (55.1 percent), 2,606 yards, 21 TDs, 27 INTs plus 64 runs for 425 yards.
Obviously those numbers were influenced by several factors, including supporting cast (Culpepper's was very good while Tarkenton was on an expansion team), offensive philosophy and even simply the era in which QBs played.
That said, Bridgewater shows well in a lot of categories, most notably completion percentage (first) and yards (second).
In a broader comparison with the 28 current NFL starters who made their first 16 starts since 2001, Bridgewater ranks 11th in passer rating (85.2), according to ESPN Stats and Information. He's been sacked 50 times in that span, more than all but two of the 28.
So when judged in traditional categories against both Vikings QBs throughout history and his peer group, Bridgewater's first 16 starts are solidly above average. Factor in his strong showing in deeper metrics and the fact that he's often been throwing under pressure and the Vikings have plenty of reasons to feel good about the direction of their second-year quarterback.