Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater is about to enter his third season in the NFL. The first two were uneven, though they were marked by a a team improvement from seven victories his rookie year to 11 wins and a division title last season.
As such, it’s only natural that there will be plenty of discussion of Bridgewater and whether he can take another step forward going into 2016. It started months ago — you can even find good evidence of it on the Vikings’ web site.
But that was before the Vikings’ biggest moves in free agency involved their offensive line … and before they spent a first-round draft pick on wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.
As NFL chatter resumes with OTAs and such — soon enough, though not soon enough for the Twins, it will be time for NFL training camp — we should fully prepare for “this is Teddy Bridgewater’s prove-it year” to become a national narrative. A good fresh example: in ESPN.com’s item today on the 32 players (one from each team) with the most to prove this season, Bridgewater is singled out from the Vikings.
Writer Ben Goessling notes the improvement in talent around Bridgewater and concludes, “They were 31st in the league in passing last season — in part because of protection issues around Bridgewater, but also because the quarterback wasn’t terribly effective throwing downfield. More production from the 23-year-old could have the Vikings poised for a deep playoff run.”
Indeed, 2016 will be the perfect storm of scrutiny for Bridgewater based on a summary of things already touched on: 1) He’s had enough time in the league where he isn’t a pure newbie anymore. 2) He’s achieved at a reasonable level but still shows plenty of room for growth. 3) The Vikings have raised expectations based on their finish last season and will have another layer of national attention thanks to their new stadium (hey there Sunday night home opener against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers). 4) Adrian Peterson isn’t getting any younger. 5) They’ve added pieces around him that should, in theory, help him perform.
Get ready to hear it over and over in the coming months.