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Great win for the Vikings yesterday! Couple questions. What happened to the read-option that worked so well against Atlanta? I realize different teams require different schemes, which leads me to my second question. Do you think Teddy's ankle injury is part of the reason for this? He seems a little gun-shy to run after being flushed out of the pocket. -- Bob H. Fort Dodge, IA
The Vikings did use the zone-read concept against Washington – the same concept that worked so well versus Atlanta. I'm guessing what's leading some to believe the Vikings didn't use it was that Teddy Bridgewater didn't have any designed runs off that look. But Bridgewater is not a quarterback who is going to get out of the pocket and run downfield much. He has the athleticism to escape the rush, tuck the ball and run if the situation warrants it, but running is not something that he's going to do with any sort of regularity. Also, keep in mind that not all zone-read or read-option concepts incorporate a quarterback run as one of the options. Sometimes it's a run-pass option where the quarterback either hands it to the running back (the running option) or keeps the ball and throws a pass (the pass option). Bridgewater is not an option-style quarterback where you design a bunch of runs for him. Again, it's something he can do on occasion and can most certainly do while avoiding pressure, but he's a pocket passer who is looking to drive the ball down the field.
How would you evaluate Teddy's performance? -- Tyler Apple Valley, MN
It's hard for me to give him anything but very good marks for his performance. Was it perfect? No, it wasn't and I'm sure there are a handful of throws he would like back, including a couple of deep shots to Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson. But he also did a lot of good things on Sunday, including:
-- Taking care of the ball by making good decisions and not turning it over.
-- Responding to a slow start by going nine of 14 for 120 yards in the second half – that's a 64.2% completion rate and 8.6 yards per attempt.
-- Playing well on crucial downs, including going nine of 10 for 95 yards and one touchdown on 3rd downs.
-- Playing his best football late with the game on the line – he was five of seven for 64 yards on the game-winning drive.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of this week's performance and this season in general for Bridgewater is that he's playing well in crucial spots – 3rd downs, versus the blitz and in two-minute situations. Missing the mark on deep throws, reading exotic coverages, game management…those are all responsibilities that Bridgewater will learn by experience. But being a clutch performer and having a calming presence under pressure is something that cannot be coached.
The Vikings are coming off two close victories. Momentum seems to be with us. Now the bye week comes. Do you see this as an advantage or disadvantage? -- Shem London, England
Where the bye falls on your schedule is completely out of your control, therefore I feel a team has no choice but to make it an advantage no matter where it is. For the Vikings, it's in Week 10 and it's easy to make a case for it being advantageous. The Vikings have made it through a difficult nine-game stretch with a 4-5 record and now have a week to rest, recuperate and recharge for the final seven-game surge. While not in an ideal position, the Vikings have made things interesting in the NFC North by winning two consecutive games to get to third place, just one win behind Green Bay and two wins behind Detroit with games against each foe and two games against Chicago to go. While the one-week break does interrupt a two-game winning streak, it also guarantees another week without a loss while the division opponent faces a tough week – Chicago plays at Green Bay and Detroit hosts a red-hot Miami Dolphins team that has won three straight.
Very impressed about with the all-around play on both sides of the ball. One huge question I have is why does Matt Asiata get so many of the goal line carries? You have Jerick McKinnon, who is a rookie putting up more yards and a better yards per carry average than Asiata. Why don't we give him a little pat on the back and let him score once in a while? Just an observation, but once again great game by both sides and enjoy reading your answers every Monday. -- Tyler S. Levittown, PA
The Vikings continue to use a two-back approach with Asiata and McKinnon, and as long as they use that approach they'll try to put each player in the best possible position to succeed. For McKinnon, that appears to be as a feature back who can do a little bit of everything, including catch the ball. And for Asiata that appears to be as a short-yardage back who can also catch passes out of the backfield. It's not about rewarding guys with goal line carries. It's about using each player's skill set in a manner that benefits the team.