The week of practice is over and the Vikings are nearly set for their contest against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. Here's what we learned this week about the Vikings-Packers matchup in Week 17.
Offense getting it "Wright" on 3rd downs
In the NFL, 3rd down is money down. For the Vikings, WR has been money on the NFL's money down, wrote vikings.com's Lindsey Young. In last week's win over the NY Giants, two of Wright's three catches were double-digit gains on third downs. And in December, Wright had 13 catches, nine of which resulted in 1st downs and four of those nine were on 3rd downs.
In their last three games, the Vikings rank 5th in the NFL in 3rd down offense with a 51.3% conversion rate.
"Third down is a very important down in this league," Wright said. "If you can convert on third down, you'll go a long way on offense. Just to know that my team and know that Teddy definitely has confidence in me to make a play on third down is definitely a great feeling."
Vikings coaches have noticed the chemistry between Teddy Bridgewater and Wright, and they've been mindful of it when devising schemes each week.
"I think that Teddy has a good feel for [Jarius], but we're designing some plays to get him open on some of those third downs," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "It's not just third downs that we're trying to get him the ball, but when we convert third downs, we typically score points, and that's shown up the last few weeks."
Running into history
**Since the Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson in 2007, he's been rewriting the team's record book. He'll continue to do so this week with another regular season about to close. Peterson enters Week 17 with 1,418 rushing yards. That total is the 4th-highest single-season total in team history and is 103 yards shy of the 3rd-best mark, held by Robert Smith. If Peterson rushes for 104 yards on Sunday night, he'll have the top three single-season totals in team history. Also, Peterson's 1,418 rushing yards are 64 ahead of Doug Martin. If Peterson maintains his lead over Martin after Sunday night, it'll be his third career NFL rushing title and the fourth time he's led the NFC in rushing yards. Peterson would also be the second-oldest player to lead the League in rushing, behind only Curtis Martin (31 years old in 2004).
McCarthy says Bridgewater is ahead of the curve
**The head coach of the Vikings adversary this week knows a thing or two about developing QBs. Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy is credited for aiding in the development of several accomplished NFL passers, most recently and most notably Aaron Rodgers. So what he says about any young QB matters.
Earlier in the week, he had nothing but positives to say about Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater.
"I think he is one of the young and ascending quarterbacks in this league," McCarthy said. "I was very impressed with him when you see him live. He's very elusive, gets the ball out of his hand fast. He's a very experienced quarterback and manages the offensive line at the line of scrimmage. His cadence and his demand are definitely ahead of the curve for a guy in his second-year."
Bridgewater first to 3,000 passing yards since Favre
Speaking of Bridgewater, he accomplished something last week that no Vikings passer since Brett Favre has been able to do – throw for 3,000 yards. Granted, 3,000 yards is not the standard to which NFL QBs are held anymore. Each season, several starters surpass the 4,000-yard mark. Bridgewater ranks 22nd in the NFL with 3,132 but also 21st in attempts at 421. The good news there is that he ranks much higher – 15th – in yards per attempt at 7.32. Ultimately, you won't find Bridgewater worrying about his individual statistics.
"I'm human, so yeah I do," Bridgewater said this week when asked if he keeps track of his statistics. "But I know that the most important stat is the wins and losses, and right now we have 10 wins and playing for a chance to win a division title. That's the stat that stands out more than any — touchdown, yardage, completion percentage, anything — because you play the game to win. The individual accolades come later, but I'm more focused on winning football games."
Here are five observations from Bridgewater's Wednesday press conference, courtesy of our own Chris Corso.
Munnerlyn named 2015 Korey Stringer Good Guy by local media
**Congratulations to CB Captain Munnerlyn, who was the recipient of this year's Korey Stringer Good Guy Award. Local media votes on and presents the honor each year, and the award is named after the late Korey Stringer, a great man and teammate for the Vikings who also had a good relationship with the media.
"It's an honor to get this award. I've heard Korey was a great guy on and off the field," Munnerlyn said a few steps from a locker that's been preserved in Stringer's honor. "I've heard great things about him, and I'm truly honored to get this award."
Munnerlyn was signed as a free agent before the 2014 season.
A win on Sunday would…
-- give the Vikings their first winning record on the road since 2009
-- improve Teddy Bridgewater's starting record to 17-11
-- setup a wild card round game against the Seattle Seahawks at TCF Bank Stadium, a place where the Vikings have compiled an 11-5 record in two seasons, which is the highest winning percentage by a NFL team in a temporary stadium in League history.