Teddy Bridgewater turned 22 less than two weeks ago, yet he said this week he is ready to be the face of the franchise for the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings.
In two months, Gophers sophomore QB Mitch Leidner will turn 21, and already he carries the weight of expectations on his shoulders.
These two quarterbacks figure to play a major role in the fortunes of their teams for the rest of this season and the foreseeable future. Neither can do it alone. Both have shown flashes of being good at their respective levels. Both have shown they have a lot of room for improvement.
The fair way to judge each of them for the rest of this year and going forward will not be against the very best established QBs at their respective levels, but rather against themselves.
Are they making progress? That will be the question. Are they learning from their mistakes? That will be the key. Are they evolving to the point that their positives increasingly overtake their negatives? That will be the test.
But we can’t expect them to be what they are not yet — particularly when Bridgewater is playing behind a shaky offensive line and Leidner’s wide receivers remain a question mark.
We can wish that they had taken bigger steps already that might have allowed the Gophers and Vikings to pull off key wins last weekend against Ohio State and the Bears, respectively, but we can’t demand it this week in two more big games against Nebraska and Green Bay. All we can do is watch, wait and evaluate.