The Minnesota Vikings ended the 2015 NFL season in the most heartbreaking way possible, with Blair Walsh's field goal sailing wide of the posts as the Vikings looked set to beat the Seattle Seahawks.
It was a surprise that the Vikings even got that far in the first place, but with a number of exciting players on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football - as well as Adrian Peterson back in action - Minnesota have a solid building block for the future.
As the 2016 season slowly inches closer, the Vikings already know what they want to be their main focus next year and that is the development of young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
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This will be Bridgewater's third season as a starting quarterback in the National Football League and the Vikings need to know if he can be the man to lead them as a franchise QB. Whilst the former Louisville star has looked impressive, he is still yet to show that he can take over the Minnesota offense and become that Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers style put the offense on his back player.
"At the end of the day, if I come back next year, if I"m still here, what I want to say is, 'Man, Teddy really took over this offense. He was really in charge of everything he did here. He took charge of the league,'" Head coach Mike Zimmer said last week.
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"Whatever that means. If it's getting us in the right place, if it's throwing the ball more, if it's throwing the ball less. Just taking charge of this thing. It's going to be his baby eventually."
Zimmer obviously knows that Teddy is a talented player, but judging by the coach's quotes, he wants Bridgewater to let loose a little bit sometime and come out of his shell by not being afraid to make some potentially dangerous throws.
"Teddy is a tremendous kid. He’s a big-time pleaser. He knows we don’t want to turn the ball over," Zimmer added. "But sometimes I think he has that subconscious thing in his mind, where he doesn’t want to hurt the team, where there are times when he can help the team.
"I told him one time during the season, ‘Teddy, I know you know I don’t want you to throw interceptions and I know you don’t want to turn the ball over. But we play pretty good defense, and if, you know, a ball gets tipped or something, don’t worry about it. Just go out and play and be yourself.’ And I think that’s when he plays the best, when he just goes out and plays.”
Bridgewater seems like a naturally safe player, one who tries to eliminate all risks and take the option with the least likelyhood of failure. But, sometimes quarterbacks need to take shots down the field and that's something the Vikings QB has to work on if he wants to take the next step.
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