After hearing about it for much of this season, Teddy Bridgewater is now the one saying it: He wants to be more aggressive.
Bridgewater took extra time with teammates on Monday as the Minnesota Vikings met as a team in the morning and then packed up the necessities as they spread out throughout the country for at least the next few months.
Sure, some of them will return for weight-lifting, some will work out on their own and others simply won’t be back. But by the time Bridgewater returns, he wants to make his third year in the NFL his best yet.
His top priority?
“Just being more aggressive,” he said. “I’m going to spend some time watching the tape, watching all of the pass plays, all the running plays, just critique them myself. Some little things that I can do better.”
Bridgewater finished the regular season ranked 22nd in passer rating at 88.7, behind one of the first-round quarterbacks selected this year, Marcus Mariota (91.5) and ahead of another, Jameis Winston (84.2).
Bridgewater was ninth in completion percentage but 17th in average gain, so becoming more aggressive makes sense. He finished in the bottom third of starting quarterbacks for the number of completions of at least 20 yards and 40 yards.
“You definitely watch it and see what you could have done better and see what went wrong,” he said. “In this league, sometimes that’s what games come down to, the little things. And we could have done better, whether it was third down or things like that. It’s a tough loss and will be a tough one to swallow.”
Bridgewater said several times on Monday that he believes he did a good job performing what was asked of him. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said the same when it came to Bridgewater’s performance in the wild-card loss, despite the Vikings not scoring any touchdowns.
“I thought he played better today, he threw the ball well,” Zimmer said Sunday. “He had a couple tipped, but he did what we asked him to do today, take what the defense gave him, trying to convert third downs.”
Bridgewater said Zimmer challenged the Vikings all year and believes they did a good of answering the tests.
One challenge Zimmer threw Bridgewater’s way a few weeks ago was that he needed to be more vocal with his coaches, letting them know what plays he likes and those he doesn’t like as much. Zimmer admitted that’s not really in Bridgewater’s natural makeup, calling him a “pleaser,” but it would help shape the offense.
“That’s something that I continue to work on,” Bridgewater said of being more vocal. “The guys know that I’m a genuine guy. When I do say something it speaks volumes. I’m in a position right now where I get to lead this group of men in this locker room and I’m glad to be in this position.”
Part of that includes organizing some offseason workouts, which he did last year. It’s still early, but he plans on doing something similar this year.
“I think it was a foundation that was laid this year and that’s something that we want to continue to build on,” Bridgewater said.
The Vikings overcame a number of challenges this year – winning the NFC North, winning 11 games and winning more consistently on the road, all things that haven’t happened with regularity in recent years.
If Bridgewater improves, the demands on his time from forces outside of football will increase. Still, he has his focus first on winning more, and winning more important games.
“I don’t want to be a celebrity, I want to be a championship-winning quarterback,” he said. “So all the stuff off the field means nothing. What matters most is what we’re doing around here and the games that we’re playing and the games that we’re winning.”