There has been a lot of buzz since the end of the Minnesota Vikings’ 2015 season that changes are afoot with the offense and the plan to give quarterback Teddy Bridgewater a legitimate chance to prove whether he’s a bona fide NFL quarterback or not.
If recent NFL history has taught us anything, it’s that you need an elite quarterback to have a shot to win the Super Bowl. Over the last decade, as the NFL has morphed into a pass-first and pass-when-it-counts league, having an elite quarterback has been the secret code to getting to the dance.
In the last 10 years, there has been only one unqualified bum (it’s a technical term) to start at QB in the Super Bowl – Chicago’s Rex Grossman in Super Bowl XLI in February 2007. He went up against Peyton Manning, who will be making his fourth start in the last 10 Super Bowls.
With the exception of the “Pay Me Bowl” of three years ago, when Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick cashed in nicely on a playoff run, the QB fraternity over the last decade has been tight-knit, with membership being judged not on if you made it, but how many times you made it.
The Bears won despite Grossman, not because of him – much in the same way Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer can flash gaudy bling that was earned more by defense than big passing numbers. The “Pay Me Bowl” was an anomaly. Cam Newton is new to the club – his frat sweater will be presented to him next week.
Taking those four out of the equation, over the last decade, there has been the potential for 16 different quarterbacks to brag to family and friends that they played in a Super Bowl.
There have only been seven.
The velvet rope for newbies has had an obstacle that has Andre the Giant as the doorman. Five guys have reserved a table and it is beyond VIP status. Russell Wilson, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have all been in two Super Bowls and all of them have at least one ring – Eli has two in the last decade and Ben has one from a previous marriage.
Of the 20 potential quarterbacks to play on the grandest stage of them all, 40 percent have been bogarted by Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Both have played in four of the last 10 games, not leaving a lot of room for AFC quarterbacks to make the next jump to stardom and commercial endorsements.
Is Bridgewater ever going to be one of those guys? The jury is out on the one and the defense team is nervous. At this point, the Vikings weren’t a playoff team because of Bridgewater or Adrian Peterson or the rest of the Vikings offense. They were playing amidst novelty sideline thermometers because of their defense. Allowing two touchdowns or fewer in 16 of 17 games will give a team a ton of chances to win.
The good news for NFL organizations that don’t have the ring bling to speak for their accomplishments is they can take heart in knowing that Peyton is out the door, Brady, Eli and Brees aren’t far behind and Big Ben is one “hangin’-in-there” pass from having his career end – big, stationary targets have an expiration date attached.
In the next few years, the NFL is going to witness a changing of the guard, where quarterbacks like Wilson and Newton are the old guard, not the usurpers to the throne. It would appear the Vikings are going to make a concerted offseason effort to determine whether Bridgewater can be one of those who pushes his way over, through and past the velvet of the exclusive VIP Lounge.
It may be defense that opens the door for him, but if Bridgewater is going to be Prime Time Teddy, 2016 will be a watershed year into determining if he’s the man or just another guy.
- U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank ruled Thursday to deny a motion for an injunction by the Vikings asking for two lighted rooftop signs from Wells Fargo to be taken down. Judge Frank ruled the Vikings haven’t demonstrated irreparable harm from the signs being up, which the Vikings claimed is tantamount to photo bombing U.S. Bank Stadium. Apparently Judge Frank is of the thinking that any viewing of the Wells Fargo signs in question will only be visible to paying customers within The Bank. The Vikings have that going for them.
- EPSN team beat writers voted Eric Kendricks the NFC North Rookie of the Year. The panel of four put Kendricks ahead of Green Bay cornerback Damarious Randall for the top spot.