Teddy Bridgewater has been receiving a lot of heat after a performance where he went 17-for-28 passing for 118 yards and an interception in the Minnesota Vikings’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday. Some of the criticism is warranted, as the Vikings passing attack has been stagnant for a majority of the season.
The second-year quarterback has yet to eclipse 300 yards passing in a game this season and has only thrown for more than one touchdown in one game this season. Even if he is not putting up big numbers, though, the team is winning games while hoping to turn around the passing efficiency.
His teammates still are backing him 100 percent and hope that he is not feeling any pressure.
“I certainly hope not,” said tight end Kyle Rudolph. “The kid’s played phenomenal for us over the last two years, and he’s shown multiple times that he has what it takes to win games, and he’s only going to continue to grow and continue to get better, and if we can keep him upright he’s shown that he makes a lot of plays for us.”
Even though Bridgewater appears to handle things well, head coach Mike Zimmer hinted that some of the negativity may be reaching his quarterback.
Quarterbacks get analyzed throughout their careers, but Bridgewater is still only 23 years old, only 24 starts out of college and is still growing up in almost every sense of the word.
“Him and I talked a good amount about a lot of (the criticism),” Zimmer said of Bridgewater. “I would say he’s human, you know what I mean?
“I’m sure he hears things and just like I hear things; no one likes (hearing) how bad you are or anything like that. I don’t know that it affects it, but I think we’re all human.”
But whenever Bridgewater is forced to face the media he remains as confident as ever. He was asked if he feels any extra pressure to make plays for the team with running back Adrian Peterson getting keyed on and shut down more and more in recent weeks, and he simple said, “No, not at all.”
He understands that his role on the team right now is to get the ball to the playmakers and let them do their job and make the big plays. He understands that he will have to make plays, but believes that the offense they run gives him plenty of opportunities to do that.
“This offense has the capability of being a big-play offense,” Bridgewater said. “We like to take shots down the field, that’s something that I’m continuing to work on. We haven’t had many opportunities throughout the course of this season. Throughout the work week, we’re out here and we’re completing those passes. We’re just a few plays away from hitting a big one.”
Because the offense has the opportunity to create big plays, there are a lot of times that Bridgewater is forced to sit back in the pocket for an extended period of time to let the plays develop downfield. He has dealt with a lot of pressure this season – 47.4 percent, according to Pro Football Focus, most in the NFL – and last week was no different as he was sacked four times and hurried on multiple other occasions.
Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin told NFL.com that their defense was able to get into Bridgewater’s head and that was a big reason why he performed poorly.
"He was so scared," Irvin said. "Teddy's a really good quarterback, and he's going to do some big things in this league. But we had him (rattled)."
Bridgewater was asked about those comments during his press conference on Tuesday and he admitted that it was “a little embarrassing” to have another player say that about him. For the first time in his career, Bridgewater may have shown a little edginess.
“Definitely, definitely. I’m going to make sure I remember those words,” he said when asked if Irvin’s comments will motivate him. “But I can’t lock in and pay too much attention to that. We have a game here in two days and I have to shift my focus to that.”
The good thing for Bridgewater is that his performance against the Seahawks did not cause him to lose any credibility with his teammates. None of them thought he seemed scared or rattled, at least they didn’t publicly admit it. Instead, they all thought he looked like the same old Bridgewater when he was commanding the huddle.
Offensive guard Brandon Fusco even laughed when he was asked about Irvin’s comments.
“Yeah, it seems like good or bad he’s the same Teddy,” Fusco said. “He doesn’t show if he’s scared or whatnot. I don’t know. He’s the same person, no matter what happens.
“I mean players have their own opinions. I don’t know where he’s getting (Teddy being scared) from, but that’s his own opinion.”