The Minnesota Vikings’ assessment of Teddy Bridgewater might be right. He was highly praised after the team’s 23-20 loss at Denver, when Bridgewater completed 13 of 15 passes in the second half for 131 yards of that game and ended with a 92.4 passer rating and the offense had 325 yards total.
Both of those marks were the best of the season for quarterbacks facing the high-pressure Broncos defense.
Bridgewater has the fifth-best accuracy percentage (78.8), according to Pro Football Focus, but that drops to 11th in accuracy (70 percent) when pressured.
For the season, Bridgewater has only an 84.5 rating, which isn’t in the top half of the league, but there is a caveat for that. Through Week 5, the league-wide quarterback rating is 90.6, which is on pace to be the highest of any season in NFL history and is the second-highest of any NFL season through five weeks. Nine qualifying quarterbacks have a passer rating of 100 or better, also the highest mark in NFL history through five weeks. So is the completion percentage, at 64.3.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer believes Bridgewater has done a good job of avoiding turnovers in the first four games.
“We’re taking good care of the football offensively so that is a big factor in today’s NFL,” Zimmer said. “Sometimes he’s careful with the ball, but that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes it’s good to punt, change the field position, but we’d much rather have that than turning the ball over. I think he continues to do a good job with that. That’s what he did last year and that’s what he continues to do this year. The rest of it will continue to get better with him.”
Bridgewater has two touchdowns and two turnovers in four games, but this year in the NFL the most accomplished quarterbacks are not-so-coincidentally on the top teams.
The highest five quarterbacks in passer rating have led their teams to combined records of 20-4 and the top three quarterbacks are undefeated – Tom Brady with a 121.5 rating, Aaron Rodgers at 117.4 and Andy Dalton at 115.6.
The Chargers’ Philip Rivers, ranked fifth in passer rating, is the only quarterback among the top five with a losing record (2-3). Carson Palmer is fifth with a 114.0 rating and has a 4-1 record.
As for Bridgewater, he has played within the situation. When inside the opponents’ 10-yard line, his passer rating rises to 95.8. But it’s not a conscious effort to be better with the ball closer to the end zone.
“I’m not out there thinking about those things when I’m in between those white lines,” he said. “Once you put the tape on, you go back and say, ‘Man, if I would have checked the ball down here we could have got 5 yards and made a field goal easier or change the field position for the punter.’ But on the field I’m just out there reacting and playing football.”
And when it’s late in a game and close, he has completed 85.7 percent of his passes (6-for-7), second only to Aaron Rodgers’ 11-for-11 in the NFL, according to STATS LLC.
Bridgewater said Zimmer stresses the importance of field position and how to win that battle. Zimmer, on the other hand, says he leaves the talk about which throws to try to make in different situations up to offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“I talk to (Bridgewater) more about a lot of the situational things that come up in the game, not so much about making certain throws,” Zimmer said. “… We sit down and talk about a lot of the third-down stuff. We sit down and talk about situational football, what we’re thinking here, where we’re trying to go.”
To date, the Vikings feel good about how Bridgewater has handled those situations and the stats back some of those good feelings.