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View the top 20 images of Teddy Bridgewater from the 2014 season.
Is Teddy Bridgewater our centerpiece and, if he is, what do we start with to help him get better? -- Zymir P.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has not been shy about pointing to Bridgewater as a building block for the Vikings. There are several components the Vikings should ensure accompany Bridgewater, including both a talented corps of receivers and quality pass protection. But perhaps the most pressing need entering the offseason is to surround Bridgewater with a running game that can be explosive. The Vikings had just 11 runs of 20 yards in 2014, their lowest output in that category since 2006 when they had just seven. Bridgewater showed tremendous progress in his rookie season and did so while defenses didn't have to be concerned with a homerun hitter at running back. If the Vikings give Bridgewater some help in the way of an explosive running game, I feel he'll take even bigger leaps forward in 2015.
Do you think WR Josh Gordon would be a good fit for the Vikings being Norv Turner coached him in Cleveland? -- Thomas O. Panama City Beach, FL
In Gordon's lone season playing in Turner's offense while both were with the Cleveland Browns in 2013, the 6-3, 225-pound receiver led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646 on 87 catches and with nine touchdowns. Those numbers, keep in mind, came despite Gordon missing the first two games of the season. Given those numbers, it's hard not to see Gordon as a good fit in Turner's system. But Gordon is under contract to the Cleveland Browns and it's also hard to see why the Browns would change that reality given how talented and productive he can be.
In the beginning of the season, people were skeptical about Teddy Bridgewater's arm strength on deep passes. Later on in the season, he had more accurate throws. Do you think it is safe to say those bad early-season throws will rarely be seen again now that he is aware he has the offseason to train? -- Cody C. Palmdale, CA
Skepticism about Bridgewater's arm strength or accuracy on deep passes was unwarranted, in my view. Bridgewater has routinely connected on all types of throws in practice, from the moment he stepped onto the Winter Park practice fields as a fresh draft pick back in May. Because he wasn't connecting on all types of throws in games wasn't an indication to me that he suddenly lost that ability, rather, it was an indication to me that there was a need to develop a rapport and timing with his receivers, particularly in game action when defenses are amped up to stop the passing game.
Also, I would submit that arm strength, while a good trait to have, can be overvalued at times. Accuracy and timing are much more important traits for a quarterback to possess. Even a throw with the highest of velocity can be ineffective if it's made at the wrong time or is inaccurate, while throws that are made with accuracy and on time are rarely going to result in mistakes.
Many Vikings stepped up into big or bigger roles this season (Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges, Charles Johnson, Tom Johnson, Adam Thielen and Corey Wootton). Which players do you think can assume enhanced roles next season? --Zach C. Minneapolis, MN
It's difficult to know with any kind of certainty right now because the Vikings will add players in free agency and the draft who will compete with the players listed by Zach for playing time. With that said, it's hard to not envision Hodges and Charles Johnson being regular contributors for the Vikings next season given what they were able to do in somewhat limited action this past season. They are both young players with ascending career arcs and I would anticipate both being regular contributors in 2015. That's not to discount the other players listed above, many of whom will be here next year, but Hodges and Johnson in particular seem to be players on the rise.
With the way the offensive line played this year, should they replace the coach with Steve Hutchinson or Matt Birk? -- Nick C. Grand Ledge, MI
The offensive line had an up-and-down season, there's no question about that. There are multiple factors that led to that, but I wouldn't put coaching near the top of the list and I don't know that different people, particularly those with no coaching experience like Birk and Hutch, would've made any difference. Keep in mind, Brandon Fusco went down early in the season and then two other starters were eventually unavailable– LG Charlie Johnson and RT Phil Loadholt. On top of that, the offense lost Adrian Peterson for 15 of 16 games. The entire offense, including the offensive line, was built and installed with Peterson, the NFL's best running back, as a pillar. Just having Peterson's presence in the backfield is going to give the offensive line an advantage.
While I agree the offensive line could've played better and perhaps the offensive line coaches could've coached better, I actually think they all did an admirable job considering the circumstances. C John Sullivan was the steadiest performer and LT Matt Kalil really did a nice job of bouncing back after an up-and-down first half of the season. He was much better in the last eight games and was an exceptional player over the final five games.