Bridgewater, the second of the Vikings’ first-round draft picks, certainly hasn’t lit the world on fire. Heading into Sunday’s home game against Green Bay, the Vikings (4-6) are about to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. Still, hope springs eternal after the Vikings blew the 12th pick of the 2011 draft on Ponder.
Granted, it’s impossible to say anything with certainty about a quarterback’s long-term prospects just six starts into his career. And first-year coach Mike Zimmer was hired more for his blitz package than his crystal ball. Nonetheless, Zimmer has liked what he’s seen Mondays through Saturdays – not to mention Sundays.
“I think that Teddy’s going to continue to get better each and every week,” Zimmer said in a conference call on Wednesday morning. “Really, as you say, I’m not a fortune-teller, but I just go by what I see and every day in practice, this guy wows me. He’s going to continue to get bigger, stronger, better knowledge of the NFL defenses, because that’s what he is: He’s a worker. Any deficiency that he has, he works extremely hard at it. We’re hopeful to that extent, and I know that Teddy is, too.”
Bridgewater’s started six of the past seven games – with the exception being the Oct. 2 game at Green Bay, when he was sidelined by an ankle injury. In his seven total games, he’s completed 60.9 percent of his passes for four touchdowns, six interceptions and a rating of 75.0. Packers coach Mike McCarthy was complimentary of Bridgewater’s skill-set, but it’s the intangibles that have made Zimmer a believer.
“I think he’s improving every day,” Zimmer said. “We see him in practice every day (with) his understanding of the offense, the way he’s reading defenses and the way he’s performing. The big thing is he’s taking good care of the football. He needs to take the next step as far as continually making plays with the ball – kind of like Rodgers does.”
Playing safe but not too safe -- playing aggressively but not too aggressively – is the ultimate challenge for a quarterback. Rodgers has mastered that high-wire act. In his last three games, Bridgewater has three touchdown passes and just one interception – one touchdown and no interceptions in a win at Tampa Bay, one touchdown and no interceptions in a win over Washington and one touchdown and one late interception in a loss at Chicago. Good quarterbacks don’t lose games, so that’s a compliment to Bridgewater. Great quarterbacks win games, and that’s what he’s trying to become.
“You have to continue to be aggressive but, at the same time, be smart,” Bridgewater said during his conference call. “You have to take what the defense is giving you and continue to learn that this game is all about getting completions and moving the sticks. So I have to continue to do a better job of understanding down-and-distances or situations that we’re in and executing what’s being asked of me to do.”
Bridgewater said he was a “huge fan” of Favre growing up and that there’s plenty he’s tried to learn from Rodgers in breaking down his film. Bridgewater rattled off some of Rodgers’ stats as if he were logged onto NFL.com.
“You talk about 28 touchdowns and three interceptions with a passer rating of 120, that’s off the charts,” Bridgewater said. “It’s pretty cool watching him, and it’s going to be exciting playing against him.”
firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.