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ESPN's Joyner: Bridgewater Poised for Breakout Season

Count ESPN's KC Joyner as a Teddy Bridgewater fan.

The ESPN Insider thinks the Vikings quarterback is primed for a breakthrough season in 2016, one that will make him a top-10 quarterback.

Joyner cites two metrics – Total QBR (an ESPN stat) and completion percentage – as reasons Bridgewater is close to being in the upper echelon of the NFL.

Last season, Bridgewater ranked 13th in Total QBR (62.7) and was only 2.2 Total QBR points behind the 10th-rated quarterback (Aaron Rodgers, 64.9).

Bridgewater displayed upper-tier consistency in this metric by posting 11 games with a Total QBR of 50 or higher, a total that ranked tied for sixth best. Since this metric is measured on a 1-100 scale, with 100 being best, it means Bridgewater had above-average performances in nearly two-thirds of his games. He also had a Total QBR of 65 or higher in seven games, a mark that ranked tied for 14th last season.

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Joyner noted that Bridgewater's completion percentage (65.3) tied for ninth and cited a rate of "off-target passes (throws outside of the receivers' catching frames)" of 16.6 percent that ranked 12th.

Joyner said Bridgewater still has room to improve, mainly with throws down the field.

And he also noted the Vikings could add more offensive linemen or skill players around the third-year quarterback.

But with the Vikings moving into U.S. Bank Stadium, Joyner thinks Bridgewater is ready to thrive.

(Vikings Head Coach Mike) Zimmer says he wants Bridgewater to be more aggressive, so there should be more big-play chances in Bridgewater's future. Add that to the personnel help that should be on the way and playing under controlled conditions most of the time, and these factors should to be enough to make Bridgewater a top-10 quarterback in 2016.

Bridgewater threw for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015 as the Vikings went 11-5 and won the NFC North. 

RB McKinnon could see larger role next season

Adrian Peterson was undoubtedly the featured running back for the Vikings in 2015.

But Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune thinks Jerick McKinnon is ready for a bigger role next season.

McKinnon has 52 carries for 271 yards and two scores in his second season.

The Vikings refreshingly got creative with McKinnon, too, lining him up as a receiver and giving the dynamic athlete some carries on jet sweeps.

We should see more of that next year after McKinnon opened up some eyes late in 2015. It will be a balancing act for the Vikings, though, deciding when to use Peterson, McKinnon or both simultaneously.

"He loves to ball and he's a great kid, always has a smile on his face," Zimmer said. "I do think we can find a lot more things for him to do and can continue to use his athletic ability and get him in some open spaces that allow him to continue to showcase his ability."

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