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After seeing Teddy Bridgewater progress since his first game in New Orleans, would you say he is definitely the quarterback the Vikings have been looking for to win their first Super Bowl? -- Ezequiel L.
Sunday's win over the Jets was Bridgewater's best performance of the season, in my opinion. He was accurate with all of his throws and did a good job of taking what the defense gave him, yet he was still able to be aggressive at the right times and attack the Jets defense down the field. That can be a hard blend, even for veteran passers, but Bridgewater was able to do it all game and he continues to show improvement in all facets of his game. There is still room for improvement, of course, but there is no doubt in my mind that Bridgewater is the Vikings long-term answer at quarterback.
Where has this Charles Johnson-Teddy Bridgewater connection come from? It seems like it was out of nowhere! --Zach C. Minneapolis, MN
It does feel out of nowhere and that's because both players are new to the Vikings, with Bridgewater being a rookie and Johnson coming to the Vikings from the Cleveland Browns practice squad. But I can assure you their chemistry and success together is not an aberration. It's the product of hard work, talent and trust. What happens during games is what gets analyzed the most, but it's what happens Monday-Saturday in practices and meeting rooms that determines success in the NFL, and the success Bridgewater and Johnson are having together is a testament to that. Both guys give great effort in practice and that shows in how they play on the field on Sundays.
What a great ending to a tough game! I think that game should not have been nearly as close as it was, though. How was Geno Smith able to pass all over us? Was it poor game planning this week, bad execution, or something else? -- David H. Rochester, NY
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said twice during his postgame press conference that he was displeased with his team's pass coverage. CB Xavier Rhodes looked to have another great performance and was credited with three pass breakups, but clearly Zimmer noticed substandard play by his defenders in coverage given how outspoken he was about it in his press conference. I will also say, though, that pass defense is a mix of pass rush and pass coverage, so I'm sure there are some snaps the Vikings pass rushers would like to have back, as well.
View images from the week 14 matchup at TCF Bank Stadium between the Vikings and Jets.
Why wasn't Kyle Rudolph involved more in the game plan? It seems like he's such a good weapon, but he only had two catches. -- Mark B. Cleveland, OH
When a player has minimal touches in a game, it doesn't necessarily mean that player wasn't involved in the game plan. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner may have had several play calls installed this week for Rudolph, but if the Jets defense was keen on taking him away, then the quarterback must deliver the football elsewhere. In fact, this appears to be a strength of Bridgewater's. He doesn't force the ball into coverage or bad spots because he's trying to target one specific player. What illustrates this point is his high completion percentage. In his last two games (both wins), Bridgewater has completed 70.8 of his throws and is averaging 9.3 yards per attempt, which says that he's throwing the ball to the right spots while also not playing overly conservative.
It seems like the Vikings have had a lot of turnover at linebacker the last couple years, but Gerald Hodges has stuck around and was able to make a big play against the Jets. What do you think the Vikings saw in him to keep him? -- Victor A. Orange, CA
Hodges was a 2013 fourth-round pick for the Vikings, so he's still at an early, developmental stage in his career. As Zimmer noted in his postgame press conference, Hodges is a quick-twitch athlete who is also very strong. He strikes me as a perfect fit in Zimmer's defense because he doesn't necessarily fit into a specific mold – he's just a good football player and he's a versatile player. It seems to me that Zimmer is more interested in having athletic, instinctual, tough and versatile players than players who fit one specific mold and fulfill one set of criteria. I expect to see more big plays from Hodges in the future and it won't surprise me in the least if at some point this season or going into next season he ascends into more of a primary role on defense.
I am not trying to pile on, but are you still 100% fine with (Matt) Kalil at left tackle? -- Luke O.
Yes, I am comfortable with Kalil as the Vikings left tackle both for the rest of this season and going forward into 2015. I know that he can play better than he's played at times this season, but I also know there have been many times this season where Kalil has played well and has done his job. Unfortunately, the times when offensive linemen make mistakes are more noticeable than the times when they do their jobs, so it can be difficult for viewers to get an accurate representation of how the line or an individual lineman is playing. The ups and downs need to give way to more consistent play and the penalties need to be cut down, no doubt. But I also have no doubt that Kalil can make both of those adjustments and be a good player at left tackle.