All it takes these days is two bad games by a rookie quarterback to make us question whether he is going to be the right guy to lead a team for the next decade.
We freely admit we have some concerns about Teddy Bridgewater at this point — most of them similar to what Patrick Reusse wrote recently, in that he doesn’t seem to do one thing, physically, great.
Instead, Bridgewater will be relying on intangibles, which largely means football intelligence mixed with poise and presence. After three NFL starts, he’s not there yet — nor should he be.
But we should also note this: those last two starts, which have been struggles, have also been against two of the best defensive lines the Vikings will face all season. Detroit and Buffalo get hellacious pressure, and the Vikings’ offensive line is a mess. Both the Lions and Bills rank among the NFL’s top five in sacks and interceptions.
What does that mean? Well, when it comes to appraising Bridgewater’s early work, it means we also need to give some credit to the opponent. He carved up an awful defense (Falcons) in his first start. And in his next three games, he’ll face:
*Tampa Bay, which has just nine sacks this season and is averaging 295 passing yards per game, worst in the NFL (hello, Leslie Frazier, my old friend).
*Washington, which has just three interceptions this season while allowing 15 TD passes (both stats put them among the 10 worst NFL pass defenses).
*Chicago, which does rank eighth in sacks (with 19) but is allowing 8 yards per pass attempt — 28th in the league.
Sure, the Vikings and Bridgewater will have to beat better defenses at some point to prove they are legitimate. But these next three games should be an opportunity for Bridgewater to gain some proficiency, yardage and confidence.
On the flip side, if he still struggles in this stretch … well, then some of the concern will gain legitimacy, even if it is still very early in his tenure.
An associate professor in the engineering department at the University of Wisconsin has created a statistical model that is VERY favorable to your Gophers football team (and not the Badgers, by the way).
Laura McLay’s “Badger Bracketology” is an attempt, she says, to forecast which four teams will make the inaugural college football playoff this season.
The methodology, at a glance:
I start with the outcomes of the games played so far, starting with at least 8 weeks of data. This is used to come up with a rating for each team that I then rank. The ranking methodology uses a connectivity matrix based on Google’s PageRank algorithm (similar to a Markov chain). So far, I’ve considered three variants of this model that take various bits of information account like who a team beats, who it loses to, and the additional value provided by home wins. I used data from the 2012 and 2013 seasons to tune the parameters needed for the models.
The ratings along with the impact of home field advantage are then used to determine a win probability for each game. … My method is simple, but it gives us everything we need without being so complex that I would be suspicious of overfitting.
McLay actually uses three models, with 10,000 replications for each one. The most useful tool is the “ensemble,” which takes the average of the three models.
This is the first week for which the model has churned out projections for the playoff. It starts off about as expected, with Florida State as the most likely, followed by Mississippi, Mississippi State and then Alabama. Next you find Georgia, then Notre Dame and then …
Yes, the Gophers are No. 7 in the model right now. That is to say, they are the seventh-most likely team to reach a four-team college football playoff for a national championship. Seventh. Yes, that’s right out of the money. But it’s so close to the money. They’re ahead of Michigan State (No. 8), while Wisconsin is nowhere to be found in the top 25.
Much of the season is yet to be played. So much can happen. But just know that, as of now, a simulation from the University of Wisconsin says things are looking good for the Gophers.