Today, in an interview with Fox Sports North, Viking’s offensive coordinator Norv Turner was very applauding of what he has seen in his rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Turner was quoted as saying “One of the things that has been the most impressive to me is, I knew he’d be very accurate, I knew he’d make great decisions, quick decisions, but he’s been outstanding throwing the ball deep, which some people thought that was going to be an issue”. So an NFL offensive coordinator praises a rookie quarterback during off season activites? What else is new? And why is that even relevant?
Well, there are a few reasons this is a big deal. To start, Turner is a credible coach when it comes to the development of Quarterbacks, as he was a key figure in the development of Hall of Famer Troy Aikman (some of you may remember the turnover struggles Aikman had before the arrival of Turner) as well as the development of Phillip Rivers. The point is, Turner knows a good quarterback when he sees one, so getting praise from Turner– even if it is during the off season– is not only a good sign for Viking’s fans, but also a bit of a scary thought for opposing defenses.
Turner’s offensive play calling style also plays into why Bridgewater’s deep pass accuracy is so important. Turner is known for stretching the field with his vertical passing attack. The deep passing attack has been what the Viking’s offense has been missing since Brett Favre retired. According to Pro Football Focus (, Christian Ponder ranked 25/32 in Deep Passing Rate, which is the percent of attempts targeted 20 yards+ down the field. Even worse, he was a disappointing 30/32 in deep pass accuracy, which is the percent of 20+ yard attempts caught or dropped. The only two quarterbacks with a lower deep pass accuracy were Brandon Weeden and Terrell Pryor. Arguably the worst statistic on how bad the Vikings deep passing attack has been, Pro Football Focus has Ponder ranked 30/32 in deep pass yards per attempt, which is the yards per attempt for targets 20+ yards down the field. Basically, the Vikings deep passing game has been nothing short of atrocious; and for Turner’s offense to have success, he needs a quarterback that can stretch the field and make safeties think twice before coming up on a play action.
If the Vikings starting quarterback can have success throwing the ball deep down the field (whether that be Matt Cassel or Teddy Bridgewater) it’s going to open up the offense in more ways than one. To start, the man in Minnesota’s backfield (The one, the only, All-Day Adrian Peterson) has consistently been one of the most focused on running backs in the NFL, commanding 8 players in the tackle box more than almost every running back in the NFL. However, defenses can only do this when they don’t have to run the risk of being burned down the field with a deep pass, which is where Bridgewater’s potential deep pass accuracy would come in. The more the Viking’s offense burns defenses with deep passes (with speedy wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and big tight end Kyle Rudolph) the less you will see defenses bringing a safety into the tackle box to protect against the run. This would result in more running lanes for Peterson, and arguably one of the best offenses in the NFL– The Vikings were ranked 14 in points scored last year, mostly based on short passing and the running game. If the Vikings can stretch the field, and Norv Turner is right about Bridgewater’s down field accuracy, viking’s fans should be ready for a high-explosive offense with opposing defenses struggling to figure out what strength of the Vikings they should try and negate.