Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Week for Week 13 after throwing for 138 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 31-13 win over the Panthers.
Bridgewater edged out Rams running back Tre Mason, Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief, Jaguars cornerback Aaron Colvin and Packers wide receiver Davante Adams for the award.
It was Bridgewater’s second time winning the award. He was named the NFL’s top rookie back in Week 4 after throwing for a career-high 317 yards and rushing for a TD in a win over the Falcons.
The Vikings will definitely be without rookie running back Jerick McKinnon on Sunday, and it looks as if they will be without rookie outside linebacker Anthony Barr as well.
Barr, whose was getting Rookie of the Year buzz earlier this season, is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Jets after sitting out practice all week due to a knee injury.
Head coach Mike Zimmer indicated that Gerald Hodges will start in Barr’s place if he can’t go.
“I think he’s been doing a good job,” Zimmer said of the second-year linebacker. “He came in last week some when Anthony went out. He continues to study hard and practice hard and he has a good attitude. He’s a good fast-twitch athlete that has some strength to him.”
Hodges started three games earlier this season at Chad Greenway’s weak-side linebacker spot. Moving over to the strong-spot will require an adjustment, but not a major one, Zimmer said.
“The one thing with linebackers in this league, if you’re a backup linebacker, you have to be able to play all the positions because of what happens on game day,” Zimmer said. “You might have five linebackers. You might have six. And if something happens you’ve got to be prepared to go in at different positions. They’re all similar, but there are differences.”
McKinnon, meanwhile, has been officially ruled out. He will miss his second straight game with a lower back injury. With McKinnon watching, Zimmer said we will likely see all three running backs — Matt Asiata, Joe Banyard and Ben Tate — against the Jets, so fantasy football players, take note.
Rookie cornerback Jabari Price (hamstring), like Barr, is listed as doubtful.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and the three tight ends are all probable.
On the flip side, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and tight end Jace Amaro are out for the Jets.
It’s only about a quarter of a season worth of sample size, but Deadspin has some interesting numbers on NBA teams and how they function in regular halfcourt sets vs. how they function offensively and defensively in possessions immediately after timeouts.
It’s perhaps not surprising that the Wolves do not fare well in these situations, since they haven’t fared well in most situations this season while often playing without several of their top players.
But the data isn’t just raw numbers; it measures the difference between points scored (and allowed) per 100 possessions in halfcourt offense/defense in the flow of the game and the same thing coming out of timeouts.
The Wolves have the second-worst halfcourt offense in general. But their differential coming out of timeouts puts them last in the NBA. They’re scoring 13.8 points fewer per 100 possessions coming out of timeouts than in normal halfcourt offense in the flow of games.
What that means is that they don’t really have go-to players or go-to plays that they can draw up — something that is painfully evident via the eye test when the likes of Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin are on the sidelines.
On defense, the differential is the second-worst in the NBA. They’re giving up 5.1 points more per 100 possessions coming out of timeouts than they do during in-flow halfcourt possessions. And what that means is teams have been able to exploit an already weak defense even more when given extra time to draw up something special.
This isn’t necessarily an indictment of coach Flip Saunders, who has limited resources and has a reputation for being a good Xs and Os coach. But it is one area where a coach can potentially steal a few points for a struggling team. Again, it takes execution from players. Whether the concepts are stale, the players aren’t executing, the talent just isn’t there — or some combination of all three — the Wolves have gone from bad to worse this year coming out of timeouts, and it will be an interesting phenomenon to monitor as players gain more experience and return from injuries.
A trio of Vikings rookies missed practice again today, putting them in serious doubt for Sunday.
Outside linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) and cornerback Jabari Price (hamstring) were out for the stretch at the start of practice but did not practice with teammates during the open portion of the practice. Meanwhile, running back Jerick McKinnon (lower back) was not spotted at all.
McKinnon missed last week’s win over the Panthers with the injury. Barr re-aggravated an existing knee injury in that game and left in the second half. Price also played against the Panthers.
We will get the injury report in a little while, but the fact that none of those three have practiced all week indicates that they are probably not going to play Sunday against the Jets.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd practiced for a second straight day, so that’s some good news there.
And, in case you are wondering, the Vikings practiced inside again today despite the temperature being above freezing. With the weather supposed to be mild — relatively speaking, of course — on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium, the team didn’t even bother opening doors of the indoor facility.
For the Vikings’ Week 14 matchup against the Jets, we spoke to Kimberley A. Martin, who covers the team for Newsday, for this week’s edition of “Behind Enemy Lines.” Here are five questions we asked Martin about Sunday’s game at TCF Bank Stadium.
1. Why has quarterback Geno Smith had a difficult time establishing himself as a starting quarterback?
It’s obvious Smith has regressed but it’s unclear why exactly. Some might argue, he’s just not that good of a quarterback, but the kid has proven (albeit sparingly this year) that he can string some good drives together. His best performance this season came in a 27-25 loss at New England in Week 7, when he completed 20 of 34 passes for 226 yards and no interceptions. But, simply put: Smith just lacks consistency. Whether it’s mental or physical, he just hasn’t been able to show week in and week out that he can properly read defenses and throw passes without staring down receivers. Oh, and not throw interceptions.
2. How has the offense maintained a strong run offense despite being so one-dimensional?
It’s no surprise the Jets are second in the NFL in rushing yards (148.2 per game) behind Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson and Bilal Powell. Ivory is a violent runner, Johnson has great footwork and Powell is dependable on third downs. Their run-pass ratio is closer than you might imagine, however, but the Jets are far less efficient throwing the football. Recently, Rex Ryan stressed “for us to have the best chance to win, we definitely need to run the football.”
3. Why have the Jets been so bad defending third downs this season?
Ryan may be a defensive guru, but the strength of his defenses has always been predicated on strong cornerback play. And if you haven’t noticed, the Jets are lacking that this season. Their secondary has been a major issue all year, and that adversely affects the guys up front. But in key situations – third down and in the red zone – the Jets frequently have issues with miscommunication, missed assignments and poor tackling.
4. Where does defensive tackle Muhammed Wilkerson’s absence hurt the defense the most?
Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman admitted it was “tough” filling Wilkerson’s shoes. The Jets are lucky to have depth, but his absence puts more pressure on the guys up front to generate a pass rush while their beleaguered secondary tries to hold its coverage. Ryan will again rely on former first-round pick Quinton Coples – who was drafted in 2012 to be a down lineman and moved to outside linebacker last season – and a mix of other players on the D-line.
5. What do the Jets need to do to win this game?
Ryan always finds a way to confuse and vex rookie quarterbacks, so the Jets have to get after Teddy Bridgewater and get the youngster off his game early. But more importantly than that, they have to sustain drives and take advantage of their red-zone opportunities. They rushed for 277 yards on Monday night against Miami – including 210 in the first half – and only scored one touchdown.
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.