By Lindsey Young, For Vikings.com
They say it takes one to know one, and former quarterback Sage Rosenfels likes what he's seeing so far from the Vikings QB crew.
"I like all the guys, really," Rosenfels said Saturday evening during a night practice attended by 10,300 Vikings fans and several alumni. "From the top to the bottom."
Specifically, Rosenfels liked Teddy Bridgewater's performance. To him, the 2015 season will be huge for Bridgewater and very telling of his career in the NFL. And from Rosenfels' view in the end zone bleachers? So far, so good. "[Teddy] had a good rookie year, and I've seen a lot of good things about him in the media markets. I think he has that chance to be a really good football player, a really good quarterback," he said. "I'm interested to see what that jump will be from [year] one to two."
In general, the Vikings have several positives in place on offense, the biggest thing being more support for Bridgewater in the form of returning players and new additions. Rosenfels specifically mentioned a trio of differences for 2015: (1) tight end Kyle Rudolph being healthy, (2) running back Adrian Peterson returning to the field and (3) wide receiver Mike Wallace coming to Minnesota.
"That's three weapons he really didn't have last season," Rosenfels said. "A quarterback is only as good as the guys around him."
Being surrounded by talent is one thing the former quarterback knows plenty about. When Rosenfels held the backup position for the Vikings in 2009, he shared a roster with likely Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, along with nine other Pro Bowl players including Peterson and Jared Allen. Comparing his time on that roster to what he sees with the current team, Rosenfels acutely feels a very different vibe here ... in a good way.
"There seems to be more positive energy just in general around this team," he said. "From the coaching staff, on down to the players, and to the fans. I think it's just a better situation — and one that's more conducive to winning."
Arguably several factors contribute to this positive energy, but Minnesota's current coaching staff certainly plays a major role. Although Rosenfels never personally experienced Mike Zimmer as a head coach, he spent several years in the league when Zimmer was a defensive coordinator, and the quarterback heard only good things about him.
Rosenfels described Zimmer's players as very sound, football-minded athletes who worked hard and played smart. Watching the progress of the current team, he recognizes similar themes.
"His players loved him," he said. "I think that carried over -- you can just tell. Guys are into what they're doing, and there are a lot of professionals out there on the field. There aren't a lot of guys screwing around. They take their job very seriously. I can see it when the execution comes out."
Seeing Rosenfels take in practice and stop to chat with former teammates Phil Loadholt, Chad Greenway, and Rudolph, it's clear this is a team he would be proud to be a part of. Would he still like to play? There's a little part of him that says yes.
"I had a great run, 12 years, and I'm proud of my career," Rosenfels said. "It's fun to watch from the sidelines, but also — I wish I was out there, too."
Although he's no longer in Minnesota, Rosenfels enjoys coming back as an alumni and seeing how his former squad is doing. And for the 2015-2016 season?
He has a good feeling.