While Bridgewater ranks 36th in passer rating among quarterbacks that have taken at least 25 percent of the offensive snaps, coach Mike Zimmer said he can see Bridgewater being – some day – in the same conversation with Aaron Rodgers.
For weeks, Bridgewater has talked about “trying to be too perfect” with his passes instead of letting loose and trusting his reads and his receivers. It’s an admirable quality, Zimmer said.
“That’s Teddy. He does want to be that way and I think as he matures, being perfect, because he’s worked so hard and studied, will come a little easier,” Zimmer said. “And then he’ll just play, kind of like the guy we’re fixing to play this week (Rodgers). He’s pretty perfect in everything he does. I think it just comes with maturity.”
The rookie quarterback said he admires to Rodgers, who has a 120.1 passer rating, 13 points higher than any other quarterback in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Bridgewater has been unspectacular as a rookie but has shown signs of progress. After two solid games to start his career – one in relief and one in which he threw for 317 yards and a 98.9 rating in his first start – he put together two clunkers upon his return from an ankle injury. In games against Detroit and Buffalo, he threw a combined five interceptions against one touchdown and took 13 sacks.
Since then, however, he has shown improvement. In the last three games, he has thrown three touchdowns and only interception, taken a combined five sacks and has led two fourth-quarter comebacks.
“I always see signs of improvement from Teddy. A lot of times it’s in practice, the things he’s doing in practice, the things he’s going for,” Zimmer said. “He’s getting a lot of different things thrown at him in a short period of time, but there’s probably some intangible things that ya’ll don’t see on game day that I see in the week in practice.”
Only a couple months into studying coordinator Norv Turner’s offense, Bridgewater was already directing receivers and running backs in practice, and Zimmer said Bridgewater is also comfortable changing the protections.
“There’s a lot of other things involved other than just throwing the ball and what that looks like. All of these things have been improvements that I see each week,” Zimmer said. “He threw some great deep balls last week in practice. They didn’t show up in the game, but with a young quarterback you keep looking, but I have complete faith in this kid. Everything about him is the kind of guy you want.”
Not everything has come together as quickly as some might have hoped. Bridgewater is out of the top 32 quarterbacks in yards per attempt, touchdowns and passer rating.
Still, without Adrian Peterson and a true offensive superstar on the team, Bridgewater said he is ready to fill the “face of the franchise” role if that comes with the duties.
“I know that for me, it’s not all about me. … I’ll embrace the role, but it’s not just all about me,” he said.
With all the off-the-field distractions and injuries that have come the Vikings’ way this season, Zimmer joked that he is ready to send the attention Bridgewater’s way.
“I’ll be glad to let him do it instead of me. It’s hard for a young guy when you come in, when you first start playing, you come in the middle of the year and you start playing,” Zimmer said. “But I believe he will be the face of the franchise, and he can actually do all these press conferences from now on.”
Besides the physical talents Bridgewater has shown, Zimmer likes what he sees from Bridgewater’s work ethic.
“He’s a hard critic on himself, too. He will continually work at improving (his deficiencies) and being better. A week ago on Tuesday, he went out in the weather and was throwing, just to get out into the wind and get out into things, but that’s the kind of guy he is,” Zimmer said. “He’ll be in here early on Monday and stay late and come in on Tuesday (the players’ day off) and do extra things that he has to do. All of those types of things gives me belief that this is what this guy is all about.”