Monday, November 17, 2014

Bad Signs for Vikings' Starting Quarterback

The Minnesota Vikings have spent the bulk of this season making excuses for the generally underwhelming play of their rookie quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. Among the leading weekly excuses are that Bridgewater has nobody to throw to, no time to throw the ball, and no running game to take pressure off of the passing game.  The decibel level on these excuses has only been further amped up in the wake of yet another woefully awful offensive performance against the previously moribund Chicago defense.

In his weekly, day-after press conference, Minnesota Vikings' head coach Mike Zimmer upped the ante, however, on making excuses for the quarterback.  In response to questions regarding the malfunctioning field clock, Zimmer stated that the time clock only really made a difference on the Vikings' final drive.

Zimmer contended that, with the clocks inoperable, Bridgewater did not know how much time was left in the game.  Unquestionably, that matters, and Zimmer could have left it at that.  But he could not help following with one of the more improbable statements of the year, contending that Bridgewater put up a desperation pass on the game-ending pick, because "he thought he was short on time."

Asked to clarify his statement, Zimmer said that "Teddy said he thought he was running out of time."  The implication, seemingly supported by Zimmer, was that Bridgewater would have made a better decision and pass, but for the malfunctioning game clock.

For the record, when Bridgewater made his ill-fated pass, there were approximately 45 seconds remaining in the game.  Bridgewater would have known this, as an official was reporting the time remaining before each play.  And even if Bridgewater did not know precisely how much time was remaining at the snap of the ball, he ought to have had a sufficient internal clock at least to know that he was not in the position--on second down--to have to heave a hail mary pass into double-coverage.

It is bad enough that the Vikings have resorted to the same antics that they employed when defending the dismal play of Tarvaris Jackson and Christian Ponder, when defending Bridgewater.  It is worse when the coach offers an excuse that cannot be true.  It is far worse when the excuse offered initially came from the player who made a poor decision and showed, yet again, difficulty with a pass down field.  And it is exponentially worse when the excuse suggests either Bridgewater's unwillingness to take responsibility for a bad decision or an utter lack of awareness that would have been required for Bridgewater to believe what the coach claims Bridgewater said about the play.


Childress of A Lesser God said...

Bridgewater obviously did not play well last Sunday and, save for a few well-orchestrated drives against Atlanta and Washington, has been underwhelming all year. But the offensive line has been even worse than the QB-play. Also, the game plan against Chicago (to the extent there was one) was inexplicable. I couldn't possibly begin to describe what Norv Turner was trying to accomplish. In short, Bridgewater is getting much help. Unless or until they successfully establish a running game or the coaches demonstrate that they have a viable plan for how to attack the opposing defense, it's hard to tell whether Bridgewater is a work-in-progress with a demonstrable upside or Ponder v2.0.

vikes geek said...


I agree, but I still trust my eyes and heed the red flags. My eyes tell me that Bridgewater has immense difficulty on deep passes. He has added to that issue the penchant for checking down early and often.

The problem for some time in Minnesota has been the lack of a strong quarterback. With the exception of Favre's first year with the Vikings, Minnesota hasn't had very good quarterback play since Daunte Culpepper was performing (with the possible exception of some Gus Frerotte games). Every time the quarterback has faltered in Minnesota, we have been told that it is not the quarterback, but the receivers, offensive line, lack of running game, etc. In short, it's always everyone's and everything's fault but the quarterback's.

From my vantage point, Bridgewater is doing virtually nothing on the field. In fact, it is difficult to distinguish what he is doing from what Ponder did or Tarvaris did before him.

The NFL is a difficult place for quarterbacks--not just young quarterbacks, but all quarterbacks. Few quarterbacks make it to the level of franchise quarterback. Arguably, there are only six franchise quarterbacks currently in the league--Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger, with Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford, Joe Flacco, and a few others just outside that group.

The trick for any team is to identify early whether their QB is a franchise QB. The Vikings have dedicated far too much time to any one quarterback in the hope that what they see is not what they actually see. We saw that with Jackson and Ponder and we seem to be on the verge of that with Bridgewater.

How Bridgewater becomes a deep ball passer when he appears to have no idea what he is doing throwing the ball deep is beyond me. But, assuming he can correct this glaring deficiency, he still needs to show that he has a handle on everything else. That will be a challenge.

With an early pick likely in this year's draft, the Vikings need to be considering whether they want to take advantage of the fact that Bridgewater was their second pick in 2014 and use that as an excuse to take a QB number one in 2015 or try to find replacements for all of the other purported problems.

Ultimately, the greater concern is that whether Bridgewater's problems are the result of his deficiencies or those of the players around him, somebody has done a bad job putting the right pieces in the right place on this team. At some point, that has to be corrected.