Each week, beat guy Matt Vensel will highlight five Vikings stats that really mean something.
38.5 — quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s accuracy rate on deep throws.
When the rookie quarterback overshot Greg Jennings then Cordarrelle Patterson on a pair of deep balls Sunday, it continued a trend for Bridgewater, who has shown that he has the arm strength, but so far not the touch, needed to consistently complete downfield throws in the NFL. Bridgewater has an accuracy rate of just 38.5 percent on his passes thrown at least 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, according to Pro Football Focus. That ranks 20th among qualifying quarterbacks. But that hasn’t stopped coordinator Norv Turner from asking Bridgewater to attempt deeper throws, as 13.2 percent of his throws have traveled at least 20 yards. That is the 13th-highest rate in the NFL.
three — Vikings defensive tackles ranked in the top 10 in total pressures.
The Vikings lead the NFL with 30 sacks, and a big chunk of that production has come from their defensive tackles. The big guys in the middle have combined for 11.5 sacks, tied for the NFL lead along with the Bills. Linval Joseph, Sharrif Floyd and Tom Johnson have all gotten pressure on the quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus, each has tallied 18 total pressures this season, which puts all three in the top 10 among NFL defensive tackles. No other team can boast that.
eight — passes defended by cornerback Xavier Rhodes through nine games.
Throughout training camp, coach Mike Zimmer preached to his defensive backs that he wanted them to contest more passes. Rhodes apparently got the memo. The second-year cornerback has already knocked down eight passes this season, two fewer than he had during his rookie season. That total is tied for 13th in the NFL among all defensive backs. Rhodes probably wishes he was doing more than knocking passes down, though. He has yet to pick off a pass in the NFL.
76 — percentage of pass targets caught by tight end Chase Ford this season.
Ford, a second-year tight end, has become an important cog in the offense the past two weeks. With Kyle Rudolph out, Ford is starting to make an impact in that pass-catching role with 11 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown the past two weeks. And all of that came on 12 targets, according to Pro Football Focus. Ford has now caught 19 of the 25 passes thrown his way this season. That 76 percent catch rate ranks 17th in the league among tight ends with more than 10 catches.
zero — number of Vikings receivers who rank in the top 50 in yards per game.
Zimmer has praised the offense for spreading the ball around. After all, six guys have caught at least 13 passes total in Bridgewater’s five starts. But is that just a nice way of saying that no Vikings wide receiver has stepped up? Through nine weeks, Jennings leads the Vikings with an average of just 51 receiving yards per game. That ranks 52nd among NFL players, fewer than wide-outs such as James Jones, Brian Quick and Kenny Stills. No other Vikings receiver ranks in the 90 players.
The Raiders’ Khalil Mack has generated a lot of buzz as a top contender for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award, but SB Nation’s Stephen White has a nice look at why he’s more impressed by another linebacker — the Vikings’ Anthony Barr:
The results (for Mack) have been encouraging but they have also not been earth-shattering either. Yeah, Mack is rushing better, but he still hasn’t recorded a sack. Yes, he is a hitting machine who goes from sideline to sideline like a heat-seeking missile, but he still hasn’t forced a fumble so far this season. I guess what I’m saying is, yeah I see the potential like everybody else, but that’s mostly all there is right now — potential. Let’s at least agree that actual production should matter a lot in who gets picked for Defensive Rookie Of The Year, no?
Which brings me to the guy I would have expected to be getting showered with the love that Mack has been getting, Minnesota Vikings rookie linebacker Anthony Barr. … Vikings head coach/defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer knows exactly how to use Barr’s talents to the fullest. But it’s not just that they are putting Barr in a position to succeed, the rookie is doing his part by making the most of the spots he is put in. When it comes to making big plays, Barr has been a weapon for his team.
If you are asking me what I want to see from a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, I’m going to tell you I want to see them make splash plays. I assume that if they were picked that high they should be able to make the routine plays routinely. What nobody can ever know for sure, however, is if those high draft picks will be able to make the spectacular plays, the rare plays that only the best of the best players can make. Based on what I have seen so far, Barr has done a lot more to impress me as the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Well-said. There is still plenty of season yet to be played, but we agree that Barr is the front-runner at this point.
In “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell argues that it takes roughly 10,000 hours for someone to master a particular craft. This is a rough number, of course, and other factors are at play, but he cites a handful of examples that fit into his theory.
Other studies have since attempted to debunk the “10,000 Hour Rule,” precisely because it doesn’t take into account a lot of those other factors like inherent skill, the age of the participant and more.
Whether you believe it or not (we’ve certainly been practicing writing/journalism for more than 10,000 hours now, so … wait, don’t answer that), it’s become a reference point in the way a lot of us look at things — a mainstream idea, if you will.
As such, we thought about it in conjunction with one of the more impressive moments from Paul Molitor’s introductory news conference — perhaps the defining moment that shows just how his mind works.
Molitor said he was sitting around one day casually thinking about a life spent in baseball. He estimated that he had been a part of 4,000 games as a player, coach, etc. He then further extrapolated that to be 12,000 hours directly involved in a baseball game — and he did the math further, realizing that equated to 500 full days (24/7) spent involved with a baseball game.
Does that make Molitor a baseball expert? That’s debatable. (And to be clear, he never once referenced the 10,000 Hour Rule). But it certainly gives us some insight not only into just how much baseball he has absorbed in his lifetime — and it’s clear he isn’t just a casual observer of the game — but also just how his mind works.
For better or worse, we have a hard time picturing Ron Gardenhire thinking about all the time he has spent with baseball, let alone doing the calculations out into hours and days.
Gardy certainly knows a lot about baseball (and qualifies for the 10,000 Hour Rule himself), but we imagine him to be a different baseball man than Molitor. Maybe that’s too much to extrapolate from one moment in an introductory news conference, just as it’s too much to say 10,000 hours at anything makes someone an expert.
Molitor will ultimately succeed or fail primarily based on the talent he is given and the way he is able to manage the personalities and egos of men. But we are also looking forward to seeing how his mind works throughout the course of seasons and individual games.