Teddy Bridgewater is now in his second year of being the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. Last week marked the 16th start of his career, equal to an entire season, and he is continuing to progress through all the ups and downs that he has experienced.
Last Sunday, the Vikings took on the Denver Broncos, who had the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL. Bridgewater and the offense struggled in the first half of the game and he had difficulty with the speed of the Broncos pass rush.
He missed open receivers a few times running fade routes towards the sideline by sailing the ball over them – two that he missed likely would have been touchdowns. He finished the first half 14-for-26 for 138 yards and a touchdown. Not the greatest, but it also could have been worse, but in the second half he seemed like a different player, throwing with more confidence.
He went 13-for-15 for 131 yards in the second half, but a lot of his throws came while he was under duress trying to avoid sacks. Still, he was able to keep his eyes focused downfield. That second half showed how far Bridgewater has come in his development, or at least that is what Vikings general manager Rick Spielman believes.
“He’s continuing to progress, and like I said this game here, especially in the second half, we had to throw the ball,” Spielman said. “… Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he went 13-for-15 for 131 or 141 yards and no turnovers. That’s a sign of a young guy maturing. And like I said, if we can just push it over the edge a little more, and Teddy is probably the most unselfish player on this team. If he is only going to throw the ball 18 times he could care less if that’s how we’re going to win, and that’s the mentality we’re trying to get with all our football players.”
Bridgewater has not only been improving his game in his second season, but his leadership as well. He is starting to take charge of the team and his teammates seem to be responding well to it.
An example can be found in last week’s game against the Broncos. Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs knew he was going to make his NFL debut because of two key injuries suffered by wide receivers Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright. It could have been a little nerve-racking for the rookie, but Bridgewater helped instill confidence in him throughout the week and the receiver ended up having a phenomenal game.
“I had a lot of guys knowing I would play a little bit more, play a lot this week, come to me, pull me to the side and say, ‘Just be you. As far as going into games, be you, don’t try to be anything but be you,’” Diggs said. “That’s good encouragement, especially from your quarterback. He’s a leader. He’s the chief, and when he gives you that confidence to go out there and just make plays and do what you can for him, it builds chemistry.”
So what is next for the quarterback expected to hold down the Vikings franchise for years to come? Spielman is hoping Bridgewater continues to progress and continues to take care of the ball. Decision-making is an important part of the game for any quarterback and the general manager has been happy with what he has seen so far this year.
“He’s been very good with his decisions,” Spielman said. “He didn’t throw any interceptions. The decision, taking care of the football and if something’s not there having the athletic ability where teams have to worry about you if you do get out of the pocket. We’re very excited about the direction he’s going and he’s only going to get better with the more experience and the more games he gets under his belt.”