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"I think just the biggest thing that you want to see is maybe him letting it loose a little more," general manager Rick Spielman told reporters this week, via The Star-Tribune. "I don't want to call him cautious, but he took very good care of the ball because we don't want to turn the ball over. I don't want to speak out of turn for the coaches, just letting it loose a little more, giving some guys a chance to make plays even though it may not look like it's open. I think that comes with time, the more and more the quarterbacks are in the league."
Though this is right out of the quarterback platitude playbook, it does take some young stars more time than others to feel confident turning the ball loose. Especially for Bridgewater, who runs an offense based around the power running style of Adrian Peterson, the game is more about ball control and clock management.
Still, the Vikings were 26th in passing plays of 20 yards or more and 17th in passing plays of 40 yards or more last season. Bridgewater's yards per attempt still hovers around seven and despite an increase in total yardage, his yards per game average dropped to around 200. This year, three of the final four teams had explosive elements to their offense, and the Steelers weren't too far behind. Though a historic defense ended up taking home the Super Bowl trophy, a team never purposely wants to pigeonhole itself. Bridgewater is capable of making big time throws, and his coaches want to see that.
Spielman's words remind us a bit of a segment from Bruce Arians' A Football Life, where Peyton Manning talks about what the words "open wide receiver" really mean in the NFL. In college, that could mean distance of a yard or more beyond the nearest defender. In the NFL, it might be a window the length of a dollar bill.
Bridgewater still has some time left with Peterson, and plenty of time to round out that aspect of his game. And the best news for him? Spielman seems content taking it one year at a time.