Once again, from behind the reaches of the great E$PN Paywall, we have another article with some positive thoughts about our favorite football team.
K.C. Joyner, the man known as The Football Scientist, has made the bold declaration that Minnesota Vikings' quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be a top ten signal caller in 2016. He cites a couple of different reasons, and while I can't bring them all to you here, this one appears to be the big one.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bridgewater had a pass pressure rate of 36.6 percent last season. This metric gauges how often a passer was sacked, was under duress or got hit on a play, and no quarterback had a higher mark than Bridgewater.
This is a major part of why Bridgewater had the sixth-highest mark in the league in both quarterback hits (94) and quarterback contact rate (he was hit on 15.9 percent of pass plays).
Bridgewater's overall numbers did not suffer too much from the pass-protection sieve -- he still posted a 61.4 Total QBR on plays when he was under duress (defined as when the quarterback is forced from the pocket, forced to alter his throwing motion, forced to move within the pocket because of pressure, having a defender in his line of sight or being hit while throwing).
Despite all of the issues that Bridgewater had to deal with last year, he put up a Total QBR of 62.7, a mark which was good enough for 13th in the NFL and just over two points from the top ten. I understand that QBR is like any other statistic. . .people who like Bridgewater can use it to bolster their case while those that don't can say it doesn't matter. . .but given what Bridgewater was working with last year, it seems like a pretty good thing from where I sit.
Joyner does say that Bridgewater needs to work on his vertical accuracy, which we knew already. Some upgrades along the offensive front and, hopefully, the guidance of new offensive line coach Tony Sparano will help Bridgewater to have the time he needs in the pocket and maybe not face more pressure than any other quarterback in the NFL. Joyner also cites the move back indoors as a reason to expect an improvement from Bridgewater in 2016.
I don't know if I'm ready to declare Bridgewater ready to jump in the top ten range of NFL quarterbacks yet. If he does, though, and the Vikings' defense continues to improve the way we expect it to, the pre-season hype surrounding the Vikings won't be whether or not they can win the NFC North. It will be whether or not they can win the NFC and Super Bowl LI in Houston next February.