Monday Morning Mailbag


Monday Morning Mailbag: Bridgewater From Day 1?

Posted May 19, 2014

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This offseason we have bolstered our roster significantly and improved competition on both sides of the ball. That said, where do you think we still need to see the most improvement from a roster standpoint either by bringing in additional players or by getting improved play from the veterans already on our roster?
-- Scott P
Boston, MA

It’s never a bad idea to add more talent to the roster, but at this point I don’t know that there needs to be any significant additions from a personnel standpoint. The Vikings have been assertive and aggressive  this offseason in peppering the roster with additions, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. I believe it now comes down to watching some of these position battles unfold over the course of the offseason program, training camp and the preseason. Two positions I’m particularly excited to monitor are backup running back and the bottom of the wide receiver depth chart.

When Harrison Smith was out with an injury last season, one player that stuck out to me was Andrew Sendejo. I know he may not be a 4.4 speed guy, but he brings the hammer and with Mike Zimmer coaching, I'm hoping he wins the starting job. A big underdog story. I'm ready for the season to get here. Having backups play exceptionally well when their number is called has to say a lot for the Vikings moving forward.
-- Clayton K.
Sulphur, LA

Zimmer has coached a lot of great players on a lot of great defenses, but his calling card may actually be his ability to get quality production out of guys who aren’t expected to contribute significantly. In Cincinnati last season, three of Zimmer’s most productive players were linebacker Vontaze Burfict (171 tackles), defensive end Wallace Gilberry (7.5 sacks) and cornerback Pacman Jones (12 PBUs, 3 INTs). Burfict was undrafted in 2012 and Gilberry was undrafted in 2008, and Jones was a castoff from the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys before he was given a third chance by the Bengals. Zimmer’s knack for getting the most out of his players and his penchant for turning one team’s trash into his own treasure should not be overlooked and will be an asset for the Vikings going forward. It’s also good news for players such as Sendejo and Audie Cole, both of whom stepped up last season as reserves when the starter in front of them went down.

Did anything or anyone stand out to you during rookie minicamp?
-- Nicholas C.

Anthony Barr was without question a standout player during the camp. He looks every bit the part of a top 10-type of player. His combination of size and speed is what captures your attention first, but I’ve also been hearing positive things about how he’s picking up the defense. I was impressed with Bridgewater overall, but particularly with his drop back and separation from the line of scrimmage, and then his release. The entire process is quick, and I think his ability to reach the top of his drop quickly and release the ball quickly is a big reason why he was such an accurate passer and had so few passes batted down at the line of scrimmage despite being 6-2. A few others who stood out included receiver Kain Colter, safety Antone Exum, cornerback Kendall James and tight end AC Leonard.

I am very excited about our new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater! What are the chances that he will be a starter right away?
-- Henry C.
Sacramento, CA

I believe Vikings fans should be excited about having Bridgewater on the team. I’d like to be able to give a firm answer to Henry’s question, but right now there’s really no reason and no way to assess Bridgewater’s chances of being named the starter for 2014. It’s an issue that will be sorted out on the field over the next three months leading up to the season opener on September 7. The good news is Bridgewater can compete for the starting job and try to improve every day from here on our all while not being under the heavy pressure of being drafted by a team that needs him to start regardless of whether he’s ready or not. With Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder on the roster, there’s no need for the Vikings to put Bridgewater out there before he’s ready.