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Vikings vs. Buccaneers: Cordarrelle Patterson's disappointment and Teddy Bridgewater's potential

We talked to Christopher Gates of the Daily Norseman ahead of the game between the Buccaneers and Vikings.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

1) So Teddy Bridgewater, how's he done? Has he been what you expected? How does the future look for him?

Bridgewater has been about as good as you could hope for a rookie in the situation that he's been placed in. The Vikings expected this offense to be based around the running of Adrian Peterson, and the play-action opportunities that come as a result. And, for various reasons, that hasn't happened. Bridgewater has shown incredible poise for a guy that's been under duress as often as he has been (he's absorbed 13 sacks in the last two weeks), he does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield, and he bounced back nicely after a couple of bad plays against the Bills last week. Bridgewater, in my mind, is still going to develop into an upper-echelon NFL quarterback, and that's what we're all hoping for in Minnesota.

2) How happy are the fans with Mike Zimmer?

The fans like Zimmer quite a bit, and so do I. After three-plus seasons of Leslie Frazier giving essentially the same press conference ("blah blah looked at the tape blah blah saw some good things blah blah get better next week"), it's nice to have someone like Zimmer that is more of a fire-breather that isn't afraid to tell players that they're screwing up. With all the stuff that has surrounded the Vikings early on this season, Zimmer has handled things very well, in my opinion. The team seems to have taken to his defensive scheme nicely, and it appears that he can really be a successful coach going forward.

3) Cordarelle Patterson hasn't quite turned into the dominant player many were expecting after last year. What's holding him back? Or am I wrong about this assessment?

No, you're right. . .everyone has been expecting Patterson to make "the leap" this year, and Zimmer has said in press conferences that Patterson has to do a better job of getting open. Yes, the Vikings have juggled quarterbacks a bit this year, but Patterson hasn't shown the expected improvement as a route runner that I think many were expecting. When he gets the ball in his hands, he's still as dangerous as anybody in the league, but if he can't do a better job of getting open, teams aren't going to have to worry about him very much.

4) How has Everson Griffen suddenly turned into a very good pass rusher?

Griffen has always been a pretty good pass rusher, but he was stuck behind Jared Allen for the duration of his rookie contract with Minnesota. The Vikings manufactured ways to get him on the field before this year, mostly by having him rush from a defensive tackle position, but with Allen's departure he has taken over the right defensive end spot full time. He's an outstanding athlete, and will give a lot of offensive tackle fits with this athletic ability. He's also been aided by some very good interior help from Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph, and Brian Robison (the other defensive end) is among the NFL leaders in quarterback hurries, though he's only registered half a sack on the year. Griffen is coming into his own as a pass rusher, and as long as he and the rest of the front four continue to play within the scheme of the defense, those sack numbers will probably continue to rise.

5) Care to predict the game?

I think the Vikings can finally get off of the proverbial schneid in this one. After last week's heartbreaker in Buffalo, this team is going to be looking to end the Buccaneers' streak of domination that they've enjoyed for over a decade. If the Vikings can get to Mike Glennon and control the ball themselves, I think they'll leave Tampa with a win for the first time since the Bucs moved into Raymond James Stadium. I'll go with a 27-20 final score in favor of Minnesota.