Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Second Start and An Even Better Scenario for Teddy Bridgewater

Things could not have gone worse for Christian Ponder last week.  Nor could they have gone better for Teddy Bridgewater.  After Bridgewater led the Vikings to a victory over the Atlanta Falcons, Ponder was called upon to replace his injured teammate against Green Bay.

In addition to being asked to provide Bridgewater's encore, Ponder was asked to do so on a short week.  For any quarterback, that's likely to lead to sub-standard results.  When your standard results are already sub-standard, however, that's a recipe for disaster.  And for Ponder, disaster followed.

When it mattered against Green Bay, Ponder was awful.  His passes were off target, into the wrong hands, and late to receivers.  And those were the high points.  After the game, it was evident probably even to Rick Spielman that Ponder's career in Minnesota, and possibly the NFL, was over, but for the final paperwork.

Prior to the Atlanta game, everything had set up perfectly for Bridgewater to get his first start.  After Ponder's performance against Green Bay, everything is once again setting up beautifully for Bridgewater.  Not even Mr. Spielman would have had the audacity to attempt to script this.

The expectations for Bridgewater against Detroit are tempered by numerous factors.  Bridgewater is still purportedly limited by his injury against Atlanta; the Vikings were awful in all phases against Green Bay; nobody stood out in the Green Bay game and, as a result, nobody looks to be a standout against a far tougher Detroit defense; and Detroit is the favorite, despite playing on the road.

If Bridgewater merely stands his ground, picks up some yards, and keeps the game close, most Vikings' fans will consider the game a stepping stone in Bridgewater's maturation process.  If he does anything more than that, he will be viewed as the next coming of Fran Tarkenton.

The encouraging thing for Vikings' fans in a season that might otherwise have been a disaster, is that Bridgewater not only has shown promise with a quick read and release, evasiveness and awareness in the pocket, and decent arm strength at least up to mid-range passing, but he also seems to be charmed.  For Vikings' fans accustomed to the opposite, that's a welcome change and one that they will take with no apologies.

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