Turner pleased with Vikings’ QB play
The success of an offense, and a team, often can be determined by the play of the quarterback. The Minnesota Vikings know that all to well, as they have had to deal with a decade with mostly sub-par quarterback play. Even though they have had teams loaded with talent, that one position has seemingly been holding them back.
Things appear to be different in 2015, however, as the team appears to be confident in their young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He showed flashes of what he can be toward the end of last year and he is continuing to improve and be more comfortable in his second season.
In his second year in Norv Turner’s offense, Bridgewater is able to read and react quicker and that has caused him to get better at finding his third and fourth options on the field.
“I think it shows up more in practice than it does in games,” Turner said. “In games we’ve been able to get to the primary receiver quite a few times and that’s our ultimate goal. The more you play, the more snaps you play, the more situations where that doesn’t come up. But he’s a very quick decision maker and I’m always going to relate to when he played at his best that last third of the season.”
Another quarterback who appears to be comfortable this offseason and has now been in Turner’s offense for multiple years is Shaun Hill. He is expected to be the backup to Bridgewater and was brought in, in part, because he has had experience in Turner’s system and the transition was expected to be easier for him than it would someone who has never played in it.
Hill played with Turner in San Francisco during the 2007 season, but the offensive coordinator doesn’t think that has a whole lot to do with Hill’s comfort level in his offense.
“I don’t remember ’07 and I doubt he does either, but he knows how to play football,” Turner said about his backup. “And he understands our system and he appreciates the way we coach and teach the quarterback to play. He’s very comfortable with it. We try to simplify it as much as we can for those guys. It’s not clinic talk, it’s real football, and I think he appreciates that and he responds to it and if he has to play I expect him to play at a real high level.”
The two other quarterbacks on the team may not be as comfortable in Turner’s system as Bridgewater and Hill are, but that should be expected. Neither of them has played in Turner’s system before and their snaps have been more limited.
Not only are they working in the third quarterback slot, which generally gets fewer snaps, but they also are splitting those snaps up between one another. The coaching staff is working on a fair way to split the snaps between Mike Kafka and Taylor Heinicke for the next game, but they likely will not have a game plan until Wednesday or Thursday.
“We try to split it up in practice and in the games,” Turner said. “Obviously Mike Kafka has more experience than Taylor, so we wanted to give Taylor an opportunity to really catch him up and see how he handles things. He’s handled things well to this point.”
Through two preseason games, the Vikings’ quarterbacks have a 108.6 combined passer rating. Bridgewater has completed 85.7 percent of his passes with a 105.3 rating. Hills has completed 88.9 percent his attempts with two touchdowns and a 154.4 rating. Kafka also has a rating above 100 while the rookie, Heinicke, is at a 71.6 passer rating with the lone interception thrown.
The Vikings offense, especially the first-team offense, has looked good in the team’s first two preseason games, but that could be due to the fact that they have kept everything simplified. They have worked on what they need to do with the game but will continue to develop other aspects of the offense as they get closer to the start of the regular season.
Turner knows that there are still things they need to work on for them to get to where they need to be. Some of those things have to do with the planning and play-calling, but some of it has to do with how the players perform on the field.
“We do the things we need to do to play a preseason game,” he said. “We spend a lot of time in practice doing the things we are going to be ready to use. Early in the season, things that we’re going to use in specific situations, third down, red zone, two-minute and those types of things. Our third downs have not been very good. At this point we’ve been in too many third-and-long and part of that is by our selection and what we’re doing .”
As the quarterbacks continue to get more experience in Turner’s system, their comfort level should only continue to grow, and along with that added comfort should come improved play. There are still multiple things the team needs to fix before the start of the regular season, but they appear to be on the right track.
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