Sunday’s win emphasized a few trouble areas for the Minnesota Vikings’ passing game.
Specifically, most of the trouble has come when rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has tried to connect with second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
To wit: The Vikings offense put up only seven points in the first half of their 29-22 win. It was that same first half when Bridgewater targeted Patterson seven times and connected with him only once.
The most obvious of those misses was a failed shot to a wide open Cordarrelle Patterson 47 yards downfield. Bridgwater overthrew Patterson by about two yards.
“All I have to do is just hit the guy when he’s wide open. Cordarrelle, he was wide open earlier in the game and I just overthrew him,” Bridgewater said. “That’s one of those plays where a guy is that wide open, just give him the ball that he can catch and go score a touchdown.”
Patterson admitted some frustration with the missed opportunities, but he said he believes he and Bridgewater can straighten things out with more practice.
“Of course it’s frustrating. But at the end of the game we got the win,” Patterson said Sunday. “We’re going to look past that, all them deep balls. We’re just got to work more after practice and try to get that communication going.”
Against the Redskins, Bridgewater threw for Patterson seven times, but connected with him only once for a 9-yard gain. Three of those misses were on targets 16 yards or more downfield.
“It’s nothing between the two – it’s they’re not precise enough,” head coach Mike Zimmer said on Monday, admitting that there is something missing between Patterson and Bridgewater. “… We’d love for (Patterson) to be involved but there’s – guys have to make sure that they’re in the right places more.”
On the missed shot 47 yards downfield, Zimmer admitted the defensive back blew the coverage, leaving Patterson wide open. He said Patterson was initially supposed to run a different route but had the option to go downfield, which he did. But …
“Teddy was expecting him to be a little more inside, so it was really more of a miscommunication than really anything else, honestly,” Zimmer said. “He should have hit it and I think Cordarrelle could have done a better job catching it as well.”
Patterson has been targeted 56 times this season, two less than team leader Greg Jennings, but he has caught only 26 of those targets for 308 yards. No one else on the team has caught less than 50 percent of their targets this year.
Bridgewater said he believes he is good at throwing the deep ball, but he said offensive coordinator Norv Turner and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner have told him to throw to an area more instead of looking at the receiver.
“Sometimes with me trying to be a perfect passer, 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, putting enough arc and pace on the ball, giving the guy a chance to make the play,” Bridgewater said.
Zimmer also said he believes Bridgewater is good at throwing the deep ball. In fact, he said the Vikings could open it up a little more often. He has a different philosophy than ex-Vikings coach Brad Childress, who believed that throwing “a long foul ball” – in other words, being so cautious as to give no one a chance to catch it – does no good.
“Even if you don’t hit them, that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Zimmer said. “I mean, what’s the difference (between) just missing the 50-yard shot or you gain one yard? Second-and-9 or second-and-10, same deal. There’s a lot of strategy involved in some of those things we’re doing.”
Bridgewater said taking deep shots in the first half helped back up Washington’s aggressive cornerbacks in the second half, when the Vikings had more success with a shorter passing game.
Zimmer said throwing the deep ball makes the defense respect that aspect of the passing game and can also draw big penalties.
But there is another factor to consider. Four of the Vikings’ eight interceptions thrown this year have been intended for Patterson, according to Pro Football Focus, including two of Bridgewater’s five interceptions. By contrast, none of Bridgewater’s interceptions were intended for Greg Jennings, who is considered the Vikings’ best route-runner.
“I do know one thing about Teddy: if it is a problem that he will work extremely hard at whatever his deficiencies are,” Zimmer said. “If he believes that’s one of them, then I’m sure he’ll work on it. And we’re going to continue to do it and continue to practice it.”
Analyzing the Bridgewater-Patterson troubles
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