Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater turned 23 years old Tuesday and has already started 20 games (12-8) for the Vikings.
ESPN.com's Ben Goessling noted that Bridgewater's posted "one of the more productive pre-23 careers of any quarterback in NFL history." Goessling wrote:
*According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bridgewater's 4,589 passing yards are the fourth-most in league history by a quarterback before his 23rd birthday. But for Lamarcus Joyner's elbow to Bridgewater's head on Sunday, the Vikings quarterback probably would be third on the list; his long-ago Vikings predecessor, Fran Tarkenton, occupies the third spot with 4,592 yards. *
*Tarkenton is the only Hall of Famer in the top four, and the full list doesn't guarantee a career of MVPs and championships. The leader (Drew Bledsoe, with 7,049 yards) had a long and successful NFL career, reaching four Pro Bowls and taking the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl in 1996, but he'll be forever remembered as the guy who stepped aside for Tom Brady. *
Josh Freeman is second on the list with 5,306 passing yards before age 23.
When (Bridgewater has) been on the field as much as he has, it's easy to forget just how young he is. But eight of the top 10 quarterbacks on ESPN's QB Rating leaderboard are over the age of 30, while one more (Andy Dalton) is a 28-year-old who'd posted four years of middling stats before this season.
Linval Joseph a big factor in Vikings success
Don Banks of Sports Illustrated writes that the play of NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 9, Linval Joseph, has been an important factor in the Vikings resilient defense and rise in the standings.
Joseph had 10 tackles, three for loss and shared a sack in helping the Vikings contain Rams running back Todd Gurley to less than 100 yards for the first time as a starter.
Joseph's teammate, defensive end Brian Robison, amped up his campaign for a Pro Bowl berth for Joseph after his dominant performance against the Rams, and it's clear now why Zimmer made adding the former New York Giants defensive tackle a clear priority in 2014's free agency.
"He's having a Pro Bowl-type season," Robison said after the win over the Rams. "He should go to the Pro Bowl. If he doesn't, it's a travesty."
While Joseph said he'd appreciate selection, he's proud of what teammates are accomplishing together.
"We have a great team here,'' Joseph told Banks. "Not a great defense. Or a great offense. Or a great special teams. The whole team. I love this team, because every day we work hard to be great. We're coming together and that's what's making it work so well and so good. We're doing this together. There's not one person out front trying to be a hero. We're all working together."
Zimmer setting course
NFL.com's Steve Wyche believes the gritty guidance* *that Head Coach Mike Zimmer has shown could be helpful as the Vikings face a tougher stretch of the schedule.
*Though the line between good and bad teams is incredibly fine, the Vikings have gotten fat so far against opponents with a combined record of 13-28. Through Week 8, the Vikings had faced the easiest schedule in the NFL, based on the combined winning percentage of their opponents. Heading into Week 9, Minnesota's schedule the rest of the way was the most difficult in the league. Still left to play after Sunday's win over the Rams: Oakland, Green Bay (twice), Atlanta, Seattle, Arizona, Chicago and the Giants. *
*The second-year head coach is a defensive guy by résumé, but a leader by example. Everywhere Zimmer's been on staff (in Dallas, Atlanta and Cincinnati), his units have gotten better -- as have, more importantly, his players. His honesty, for the most part, has generated a respect from his charges to the point they'd do just about anything for him. *