In case you missed today’s newspaper, I took a look at Vikings rookie Teddy Bridgewater through eight games and compared him to the other notable quarterbacks from the 2014 draft class.
One of the people I spoke with for the story is former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, who is a rising star over at NFL Network. Jeremiah is a great resource for all things NFL draft, but I especially wanted to track him down because he recently did a piece evaluating all of the rookie QBs.
In that piece, he graded Bridgewater as the best of the bunch so far, ahead of Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, Oakland’s David Carr, Tennessee’s Zach Mettenberger and Cleveland’s Johnny Manziel.
But Jeremiah has gotten flak for comparing him to Kansas City’s veteran starter, Alex Smith.
“I use that Alex Smith comparison because that have similar builds, they’re both very, very bright guys, they’re both poised, they’re both able to make plays with their legs and they’ve always kind of been winners,” said Jeremiah, who was once a college quarterback at Appalachian State. “That’s why I kind of thought I was complimenting him, but some people didn’t take it as such.”
While some Vikings fans on Twitter bristled at Jeremiah’s comparison, Jeremiah said that he received a text message from one executive from an NFL team who said he nailed the comparison. He said another executive told him that he figured the Vikings would be pleased if Bridgewater is able to have the kind of career that Smith, a former No. 1 overall pick, has had in recent years.
It took a few years from Smith to find his footing with the 49ers, but he had a 19-5-1 record in his final two seasons there. And he is 18-9 in two seasons after the Chiefs acquired him in a trade.
Jeremiah isn’t sure if Bridgewater will be able to develop into a perennial Pro Bowl-type passer, but he thinks he can become the kind of steady starter that a well-constructed team is built around.
“I think there are guys you win because of them, and I only think there are six or seven of those guys in the league,” Jeremiah said. “And then I look at other guys that you can win with. As long as you have the right guys around them, you can win with them. I put Teddy into that category. That’s not a bad place to be. I think he has a chance to be a top 10-15 quarterback in this league.”
Listening to Bill Simmons’ recent B.S. Report podcast with Chuck Klosterman, we were struck by a couple of things.
First off, Simmons is not a college football fan at all. More than that, he has only a rudimentary knowledge of what has happened this season. We just found that to be strange.
More importantly, though, Klosterman is a huge college football fan. He watches tons of games, and while we wouldn’t quite call him an “expert” (whatever that means), his opinions are at least relevant because of his base of knowledge.
As such, it was interesting when Simmons asked Klosterman who he thought should be the national coach of the year. Just before the 25-minute mark, Klosterman endorses TCU’s Gary Patterson — a very solid choice considering where that program is this season.
But a little over 15 minutes later, he changes his answer and says that Gophers coach Jerry Kill should be the choice because of the coaching job he’s done with 8-4 Minnesota this year.
“He did the best coaching job this year,” Klosterman said.
Now, that’s just one man’s opinion, but it is interesting to hear the national perception of what Kill accomplished here this season. He already took home Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. And while we imagine the actual national award will go to someone like Patterson who is in national title contention, to some Kill is at least in the conversation.
The second day of an appeals hearing for Adrian Peterson concluded in New York this afternoon.
NFL executive Troy Vincent testified today in front of hearing officer Harold Henderson, a former league executive. Vincent, who allegedly told Peterson he would be reinstated with “time served” when his court case cleared, was questioned by NFL Players Association attorney Jeffrey Kessler.
Peterson, the suspended Vikings running back, attended the first part of the hearing on Tuesday but was not in attendance Thursday. He listened from his home in Houston, according to ESPN’s Andrew Brandt.
Peterson’s NFL-mandated suspension runs until at least April 15.
Henderson, a former NFL Executive Vice President for Labor Relations, was appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell after the NFLPA requested a third-party arbitrator.
Vincent was unavailable Tuesday because he was testifying on the league’s behalf at a Senate committee hearing on domestic violence in professional sports in Washington, D.C.
The focal point of Peterson’s appeal is his belief that Vincent told him if he went on the commissioner’s exempt list he would get credit for “time served,” plus a two-game suspension. A transcript of that conversation, and a recording, were presented at Tuesday’s hearing, according to reports.
The NFL has provided no time frame for a ruling, saying that it is up to Henderson. The collective bargaining agreement says that “as soon as practicable following the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer will render a written decision which will constitute full, final and complete disposition of the dispute.”
Pro Football Talk reported Wednesday that Henderson was urging the sides to negotiate a settlement.
Peterson was deactivated for the team’s second game after being indicted by a grand jury in Texas on a felony charge of injury to a child after evidenced surfaced of injuries to a 4-year-old son who had been beaten with a switch.
After a very brief reinstatement protested publicly by some of the league’s and team’s corporate sponsors, he was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List while the court case played out. The 2012 NFL MVP plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault on Nov. 4, believing he would be able to rejoin the Vikings.
Peterson has been paid his $11.75 million salary while on the exempt list. His contract, which runs through 2017, had $36 million in guaranteed money that has already been paid out, and his salary next season would be $12.75 million.
Vikings players endured one of the coldest games in team history last Sunday, with the temperature at 12 degrees when kicker Blair Walsh boomed the opening kickoff.
As my colleague Mark Craig wrote the other day, that adjustment has been difficult for some southerners like cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. But the transition to TCF Bank Stadium has been even harder for the two men who kick the ball, Walsh and punter Jeff Locke.
The Vikings have been preparing for these games at TCF since the spring, when they sent Walsh, Locke and long snapper Cullen Loeffler there this spring to get used to kicking at the outdoor stadium. But there was no way for them to simulate this cold. And getting a feel for the wind patterns at the stadium have proved difficult, too, as they swirl different directions every week.
“It’s been really different every week,” special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said today. “Some similarities. But there are some differences, and it was very windy coming out of [the eastern end zone on Sunday]. And then you move out to the 30 and it’s not as bad.”
The elements don’t appear to have had a significant impact on Walsh, who hasn’t missed a field goal at TCF Bank Stadium since September, and 21 of his 38 touchbacks have come at home, including eight total the past two weeks.
They do seem to be affecting Locke, though.
At home, Locke averages fewer yards per punt (42.8 at home versus 45.0 on the road), fewer net yards (36.9 versus 39.9) and fewer punts inside the 20-yard line (six at TCF and 10 on the road).
“I’ll be honest with you, it’s hard to punt in that stadium,” Priefer said. “You guys know how cold it was. And it was windy and it was different winds at different altitudes. Our end zone, where you come out of our tunnel in pregame, was a nightmare. It was very difficult to punt from there. I was hoping that we didn’t have to punt out of that end zone. Putting up with the conditions, I think he’s done a great job with that so far. Not a lot of punters would come into that situation with his attitude and I think that’s helped him continue to get better as the year has gone on.”
Besides one poor punt resulting in a touchback, Locke had one of his better games of the season Sunday, battling the cold and wind to boot two punts inside the 20-yard line. The Panthers were unable to return any of his six punts, and Locke finished with a punting average of 41.8.
That was much better than Panthers punter Brad Nortman, who averaged just 36.5 yards per punt on the four punts the Vikings didn’t block and return for touchdowns.
Priefer said he is pleased with how Locke and Walsh are dealing with the winter weather at TCF Bank Stadium. It helps that the specialists continue to kick at the Gophers’ stadium once a week.
“That is a huge advantage, and I knew it would be because I’ve done that with kickers throughout my whole career,” Priefer said. “To go down there in the wind and the cold — it was freezing again yesterday and it was windy — they got a lot of work in. They were hoping that we would have those benches, the warming benches. Didn’t have those to keep those guys warm.”