If there's one thing Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has been clear about since training camp opened last week, it's that Teddy Bridgewater is the guy he wants playing quarterback for this team.
Some experts call this a big season for Bridgewater, pointing towards his pedestrian passing statistics over his first two seasons in the NFL.
When asked about it last week, Zimmer told reporters he's glad Teddy is their quarterback.
And Zimmer doubled down on that support of his third-year signal caller in an interview with USA Today this week. The Vikings coach said he's seeing a more aggressive side of Bridgewater this season.
"I want him to be able to have that mentality. We want to be able to practice, 'Hey, this is the day we're going to be aggressive.' The thing about Teddy, and everybody talks about this and talks about that – he knows how to win, and what else is there with the quarterback? I'm not going to mention names, but there's a bunch of quarterbacks throwing for 300 yards and their team doesn't win. They make mistakes. They don't play right in the critical situations of the game. And (people) say, 'Oh, his arm strength.' His arm strength is fine. He's been throwing the ball 55 yards down in practice all the time. Ask what kind of arm Joe Montana had or any of these other guys. It's just so fantasy football now."
Last year only 27 percent of Bridgewater's passes were thrown at least 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage – tied with Joe Flacco for the lowest rate in football.
Bridgewater's average pass distance last season was just 7.5 yards, 32nd among 36 quarterbacks that took at least a quarter of their team's snaps.
The Vikings still have Adrian Peterson and will still run their offense through their future Hall-of-Fame running back, but Zimmer says Bridgewater has been noticeably more aggressive so far this year.
The Star Tribune's Matt Vensel says Bridgewater has looked good throwing the deep ball early in camp, but acknowledged that things could be different when he's lined up against a pass rush.
As long as defenses continue focus on taking Peterson away, there should be plenty of opportunities for Bridgewater to make plays down the field.
It's one of the reasons they list Bridgewater as the most important player for the Vikings to be successful in 2016.