Getting into a “rhythm,” as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater referred to it following Sunday morning’s walk-through, is important for any player in any sport. Whether they want to call it getting into a rhythm, getting into a zone or just getting comfortable with what they’re doing, the on-field performance always seems to get better once they take that step.
Ironically, Bridgewater had his worst day of training camp after he told the media he was getting into a rhythm, throwing two interceptions during practice and having another ball tipped at the line of scrimmage. But that seemed to be more of an anomaly. The third-year quarterback has looked a lot more comfortable in the offense so far through organized team activities, minicamp and training camp.
“It’s all about playing in rhythm,” he explained. “As long as you’re playing in rhythm, what’s going on around you doesn’t even matter. You know when you hit that fifth step the ball should be out. When you hit that seventh step the ball should be out. So, having that clock in your head factors out the pass rush.”
Bridgewater is reaching a point in his career where he is understanding the need to throw receivers open. Throughout his first two years in the NFL he might hesitate to throw a ball to his receiver when they were tightly covered, instead of anticipating where they were going and throwing the ball to an open part of the field.
It may take some time to see how well his words translate into actions, but he appears to understand what he needs to do.
“You know as long as you’re playing in a rhythm, you trust what’s happening,” Bridgewater said. “Sometimes you want to see things happen, but when you’re seeing things that means you’re too late. You’ve got to anticipate those throws and trust that your guy is going to be in the right place at the right time. That’s what it all comes down to.”
A big part of his new-and-improved comfort level running an NFL offense is that he has been in the same system throughout his entire career. He also has a comfort with a lot of his receivers and tight ends, which has come from playing together, but also getting together to throw and work on routes during the offseason.
Bridgewater is reaching a point where he can rattle off plays and know what offensive coordinator Norv Turner is wanting to accomplish, who he needs to get the ball to and where all his receivers should be on the field if he needs to progress out of his first read.
“I know what to expect when plays are called,” he explained. “I know which guy we’re trying to get the ball to and things like that, so seven-step drops is just something that comes natural to us in this system.”
Bridgewater has been looking good during these offseason workouts, but the proof will come when he faces an actual opponent. His teammates are not going to lay a hand on him in practice, so he doesn’t really have to worry about a pass rush. So all this talk of getting into a rhythm could quickly change the moment bullets start flying in his first live action.
But, for now, we can only go off how he performs in practices, and if you take Sunday out of the equation he has looked improved. He seems to he making all the right reads and isn’t afraid to take the deep shot when it is there, which is what his fans have been waiting for.