Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer appeared on ESPN’s NFL Live segment on Thursday to talk about a number of different things, but the primary subject of discussion seemed to be his third-year quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.
It started out with the video of 6-year-old Obadiah Gamble creating a music video and singing as a way to invite Bridgewater to his birthday party. Zimmer said that he had seen that video before and that he thought it had a nice ring to it, but he didn’t seem all that surprised that Bridgewater ended up surprising Gamble at his party.
“That’s the kind of guy Teddy is and really all the guys on our team are good guys,” Zimmer said. “They work hard, they’re smart, but Teddy’s the leader of this football team, but more importantly he’s a great person.”
It’s been clear, though, that this offseason hasn’t been all fun and games for Bridgewater. After last season ended, and again earlier this offseason, Zimmer challenged his quarterback to be a better down-field passer and it seems like he is taking steps in the right direction.
Zimmer mentioned a moment during Thursday’s organized team activities, which was closed to media, where Bridgewater was able to draw the defense offside with his hard count and then attack them downfield.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1673006-surprising-players-positi... “One of the things that happened out there today in practice, he had a good look – the defender jumped it and then he went over the top,” Zimmer said. “He’s done a nice job of throwing the deep ball so far in these couple weeks, so that’s been a big factor for us. The more we can open up the defense of the other team, it allows us to hit some more big plays. So I think that’s probably as much as anything, being able to see everything, read it quickly and be able to deliver the ball in the right place.”
Bridgewater proved last year that he had a good hard count as he was able to get the defense to jump at times. The problem, however, was that he rarely took advantage of the free play. Instead of taking a shot down field, Bridgewater always seemed to hand the ball off to running back Adrian Peterson or dump it off to his safety outlet.
If Bridgewater could learn to utilize his hard count to get the defense to jump offsides and then attack them down field on a consistent basis it could really open things up for the Vikings offense. Opposing defenses won’t be able to stack near the line of scrimmage as much because they will have to protect themselves over the top more, which means Peterson should have more room to run. And good things tend to happen for the Vikings when Peterson has some extra room to run.
Another thing that Zimmer was asked about was his quarterback’s demeanor under pressure. Bridgewater always wears a bracelet that reads “GUMP” which stands for Great Under Major Pressure. Bridgewater has seemed to live up to that saying and Zimmer believes that the rest of his team always believes in Bridgewater, no matter what has happened during the course of a game, because he is always so calm and collected.
“The one thing about Teddy is he never gets out of sorts,” Zimmer said. “He’s always under control, he’s in composure, so I think the team has a lot of faith in him in most situations because he doesn’t panic. I’m probably the only one that panics.”
There is still plenty of time before the Vikings open the regular season on Sept. 11 in Tennessee, but it seems Bridgewater is well on his way to being ready. He has been working on everything his coaching staff has asked him to. The only question now is how well that work translates to on-the-field play?