The Minnesota Vikings had a good day passing with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completing 77.8 percent of his throws for 153 yards and a touchdown. But it was really the ground game that shined for them in Week 2, with Adrian Peterson running for 134 yards and Bridgewater getting 21 of his own and a touchdown.
Bridgewater is known to be an athletic quarterback, but might be underrated as a runner just because he always focuses on throwing the ball first. He also doesn’t panic and take off running when his first read isn’t open.
“I think so,” Bridgewater said when asked if he thought he was an underrated runner. “I think I still have some running ability, but I try not to be in those positions, but it’s good to have it in your bag of tunes, and I just had to use my legs a little today and maybe throughout the course of the year I’ll have to run a little more, but hopefully just hand the ball to 28 and he makes plays for us.”
His ability to run and create plays with his legs adds an extra wrinkle into the Vikings offense and it helps open things up a little more. Defenders are not able to attack him in the pocket, they have to worry about keeping contain.
“I think it changes the rush lanes for defenses,” the quarterback said. “Instead of just being able to rush me, or rush the passer whenever taking a straight drop, if I’m rolling out in the pocket or throwing on the run, different things change their rushing lanes. It kind of throws defenses off a little. Also, the offensive line does a great job of picking up different stunts and things like that.”
Not only is Bridgewater perhaps an underrated runner, he is starting to become a smart runner as well. He has always tried to avoid being hit by running out of bounds or sliding when he sees defenders coming, but he is starting to learn that sometimes he needs to be more physical to help his team.
In the Vikings’ Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Bridgewater had a play where sliding and protecting himself almost hurt his team. He was running for a first down, saw a defender coming his way and slid, but because he slid he was almost short of the first down.
He came upon a similar situation early in the game against the Lions and instead of sliding he dove head first to make sure he got the first down. He just credits that to the experience he gained against the 49ers.
“I just told myself I won’t make the same mistake twice,” he said. “Last week it could have cost us. This week I knew that, hey, the first down is right there, just dive head first. Don’t give them anything to judge, that’s what I tried to do today.”
The problem with diving headfirst is that it means he did not give himself up so defenders are allowed to hit him. This puts him at a greater risk for injury, but sometimes the risk is worth taking.
“I tell myself no hit is too hard for me,” Bridgewater said. “Our strength and conditioning staff does a great job of preparing me, preparing my body to have to take a hit if I have to. It was one of those situations where it was a must have and I tried to get the first down.”
Bridgewater’s ability to scramble is likely going to play a big role for the Vikings throughout the remained of the season, and the remainder of his career. But you can be sure the coaching staff is hoping he doesn’t have to take too many hits in doing so.