Teddy Bridgewater is expecting a tall order for the Vikings against the Broncos in the "Mile High City."
In addition to having the top-ranked defense in yards allowed per game, the Broncos have gone 23-2 (.920 winning percentage) in regular season games since the 2012 arrival of Peyton Manning. Even before that, Denver has enjoyed the second-most home wins (244) since the AFL-NFL merger. Pittsburgh is first with 251, and Minnesota is third with 234.
"Those guys, they're a tough crowd, tough defense, they're going to have a lot on their side," Bridgewater said. "We just have to go out there and believe in ourselves and understand that we have to be fast and physical, also. We're going to try to run the football, throw the football and execute our offense and stay within ourselves."
Here are four other thoughts from Bridgewater's weekly media session:
Quick on the draw
Bridgewater has seen the stat sheet where Denver has posted 11 total sacks in its first three games, led by outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware's 3.5 (tied for second-most in NFL). He's seen how fast Ware and Von Miller are off the line of scrimmage.
"They do a great job of timing the snap counts. They're real sound, and we know that that defense runs through those guys. Those guys play with a ton of confidence," Bridgewater said. "We know it's going to be a challenge for us up front and even on the backend those guys are playing some great football, also. We're just going to approach this game with the mindset that we have to go in, be physical and play fast."
The Vikings have taken 6.0 sacks this season, but only one total in the past two games.
Hard work, health helping Kalil
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner have spoken positively about the start to 2015 by a healthy Matt Kalil. Add Bridgewater to the list:
"Matt, he understands Coach Zimmer's mindset and Coach Zimmer's message. Coach Zimmer wants to be a tough, physical football team. Matt is doing that right now," Bridgewater said. "I remember a play that we **pitched to Adrian*** *[Peterson] on Sunday, and Matt was out front, he got the third level to block the safety, that's what you love to see from those guys. He comes in, he works extremely hard, he doesn't say much, he's always positive. Those are the type of guys we want on this team."
'The Sheriff' takes charge
Bridgewater previously mentioned how he's watched film to learn from Manning. Asked what he liked about the five-time NFL MVP's game, Bridgewater said:
"He was always in command at the line of scrimmage," Bridgewater said. "He's always making checks, audibles at the line of scrimmage, getting himself in and out of the right plays, protecting himself. He's a guy who plays extremely fast and he's been playing at a high level his entire career."
Quite the experience
Manning is in his 18th pro season, and this will be his 260th start. Bridgewater, meanwhile, will be starting his 16th game, after going 6-6 as a starter in his rookie season. Manning went 3-13 with the Colts as a rookie but followed with a 13-3 mark in 1999. Manning told Twin Cities media on Wednesday that he thought the experience logged as a rookie was quite valuable in the rest of his career (182-77 in regular season starts).
Bridgewater was asked to self-assess as he heads into the equivalent of a full season of starts.
"I think I'm making a ton of progress. There are some things that may go unnoticed, but I think the coaching staff just asking me to do some things, I feel like I've been doing a good job of doing those things," Bridgewater said. "There's still room for improvement. Each day we come to work and there's something that we can work on. I know for me, I'm going to continue to just try to play fast, be decisive in my decision making and stay aggressive."