Scoggins: Expect resilience, not perfection from Bridgewater
3 Nov 2014
Source: Star Tribune
By: CHIP SCOGGINS
Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater made some cringe-inducing throws, but he was sharp with the game on the line.
Mike Zimmer approached Teddy Bridgewater before Sunday’s game and offered his rookie quarterback some advice. Don’t try and be perfect, Zimmer said.
For one half, Bridgewater took that pep talk almost too literally. He was anything but perfect.
On the first play of the game, he rifled a pass over the head of Greg Jennings deep down the field with a linebacker in coverage. On the second series, Bridgewater overthrew Cordarrelle Patterson by roughly an acre after a miscommunication by Washington’s defense left Patterson uncovered.
Then, just before halftime, the Vikings faced a fourth-and-2 from Washington’s 39-yard line. Flushed from the pocket, Bridgewater had an opening to run for the first down. Instead, he inexplicably fired a pass that sailed out of bounds.
Zimmer was waiting for his quarterback on the Vikings sideline after that brain cramp. The Cliffs Notes version of their discussion went something like this: RUN THE BALL!
"I told myself, 'What am I doing?' " Bridgewater said later.
Many of us shared that same thought watching Bridgewater flutter errant passes and overthrows to wide-open receivers.
“Sometimes you’re going to have some slow starts,” Bridgewater said, “but it’s all about how you finish the game.”
The Vikings rookie offered another reminder of that in rallying his team to a 29-26 victory against Washington at TCF Bank Stadium.
Trailing again in the fourth quarter, Bridgewater steered a 12-play touchdown drive for the deciding points. He completed five of seven passes for 64 yards on the drive. All his completions went to different players.
“I was telling one of our coaches before the game, I love this kid,” Zimmer said.
Watching Bridgewater play quarterback is like riding a roller coaster. He’s up and down. He makes good plays and then causes you to cover your eyes. In the end, you walk away saying, Hey, that wasn’t so bad. Actually, let’s do it again!
The rookie seems to thrive under pressure, doesn’t appear rattled by playing from behind and his rope-a-dope performances, while certainly maddening on occasion, have produced a 3-2 record as a starter.
In other words, he’s a young quarterback learning on the job without a great supporting cast. This is not going to be perfect.
“The way he carries himself in front of the team, the way he carries himself in front of everybody else,” Zimmer said, “you couldn’t ask for a better guy.”
Now about his accuracy on those deep throws …
“I think I’m good at throwing the deep ball,” Bridgewater said.
Yet he continues to uncork some doozies when throwing the ball down the field. Bridgewater’s lack of touch trying to stretch the field is jolting because many of them land in the next ZIP code.
Bridgewater noted that offensive coordinator Norv Turner continues to stress that he needs to throw to an area and not become so fixated on his receiver.
“Sometimes with me trying to be a perfect passer,” Bridgewater said, “I tend to look at the wide receiver and sometimes I end up overthrowing him or underthrowing him instead of just throwing it to the area.”
Bridgewater seemed particularly annoyed by his overthrow to Patterson in the first quarter because he had no one in his vicinity. That should’ve been a walk-in touchdown.
“That’s one of those plays where a guy is that wide open, just give him a ball that he can catch,” Bridgewater said.
He also underthrew Patterson down the middle of the field in the first half, resulting in a pass breakup. Bridgewater targeted Patterson seven times but only completed one pass to him for 9 yards.
Patterson called their missed opportunities “frustrating” but praised Bridgewater for finding something that works — high-percentage passes — in the second half.
“We are going to fix that [deep throws],” Patterson said. “All of it doesn’t even matter. We got the win. We are on the right path.”
And that’s worth repeating here. Bridgewater doesn’t get flustered by his mistakes. He doesn’t go in the tank for the rest of the game. He made some poor throws in the first half but they didn’t sabotage his day.
Forced to rally his team from a deficit in the fourth quarter, he led the offense with a steady hand. That shows something about him.
Bridgewater might be a perfectionist, but being resilient works, too.