Packers Fans: Get To Know These 5 Vikings
The Vikings are a young team. The Vikings are a talented team. Here are five Vikings you should know about as we head into Thursday's contest.
1. Teddy Bridgewater - QB
Yes, I know you know about Teddy Bridgewater. But do you know about Teddy Bridgewater? Do you see how good he could be? Yes, I know he's only 6-2* and 210 pounds* (asterisks because have you seen Teddy Bridgewater? If he's 6-2/210, then I'm 6-7/260). But he gets it. You can see it in how he runs around in his highlights. You can see it in his quick, tight delivery. You can see it in how he goes "Yeah, I'm wearing gloves. So what? Want me to be a fumble machine like Alex Smith because I don't wear them?"
I mean, just read his scouting report:
Terrific competitor. Extremely driven to succeed. Well-prepared and confident in his approach. Operated a progression-read offense where he is asked to scan the whole field and help steer protections. Footwork is very clean and in rhythm -- throws on balance with sound mechanics, a fluid delivery and smooth stroke. Very good timing, touch and anticipation throws receivers open. Is patient working through his reads and will step up in the pocket. Sells play-action hard and takes what the defense gives him. Poised in the face of the blitz and often anticipates it coming. Is very mentally and physically tough played through a broken left wrist with a sprained ankle in what was essentially the 2012 Big East championship game, coming off the bench to captain the Cardinals to a come-from-behind victory. Is a student of the game with a very good understanding of football concepts. Plays like a coach on the field, knows the responsibilities of everyone on the field and can get teammates lined up correctly. Makes few mental errors.
The perpetually angry Nolan Nawrocki wrote that. I don't think Nawrocki has said that many nice things about anyone in his entire life. Nolan Nawrocki got a care package filled with cookies from his grandmother and sent back a note that said "Consistency and chocolate content good, but aided by a lifetime of low expectations due to numerous grandchildren. Limited upside."
The point is, Bridgewater seems like the real deal. Sure, he's faced just the second worst and fourth worst defenses in the league so far, but he's done exactly what a good quarterback should do against those defenses: he's torched them. Beware of Teddy.
2. Harrison Smith - S
Who is the top rated safety in the whole NFL, according to Pro Football Focus? That would be Harrison Smith, the all-world safety taken (sigh) one pick after Nick Perry. He's had his injury issues, but if there's a player to watch on the Vikings defense, it's Harrison Smith. His overall +9.1 puts him atop the league rankings in safety play, ahead of such luminaries as Earl Thomas, Eric Berry, and Troy Polamalu by wide margins. He's excellent in coverage and gives the Vikings solid run support as well.
And the Packers have Nick Perry.
3. Cordarrelle Patterson - WR
After an awesome Week 1, Patterson hasn't been all that exciting...but that's kind of exactly what scares me. The Packers defense seems given to helping guys find the breakout star hiding deep inside them, and if anybody can break out at a moment's notice, it's Cordarrelle Patterson. People have un-ironically referred to him as a young Randy Moss, and his game-breaking speed makes that comparison apt. He's also an adept runner, be it on a jet sweep or lining up as a traditional back. I think he breaks at least one big play this weekend.
4. Sharrif Floyd - DT
The Vikings took Floyd with the second of their three first round picks in 2013. Many of the mock drafts we covered had him going to the Packers, where he probably would have been an end in their 3-4 scheme. Instead, Floyd is pushing the pocket as an interior rusher in the Vikings' 4-3. Actually, he's more stuffing the run than rushing the passer; his pass rushing grades from PFF have been negative or neutral in all but one game, while his run stopping grade has been positive in all but one game. His battle with Corey Linsley will be an interesting one as the Packers try to get their anemic run game off the ground.
5. Josh Robinson - CB
While 2013 first round pick Xavier Rhodes remains a work in progress, Josh Robinson has arrived as a legitimate cover corner. He's had two very strong showings, one pretty good game, and one below average performance, but the best news for the Vikings is that Robinson's best performance was against the best receivers he's faced so far. He held Roddy White and Julio Jones to a combined one catch for 15 yards on six targets. Not a bad day at the office, but Jordy Nelson may have something to say about that.