Powers: Teddy Bridgewater is Minnesota Vikings’ top banana
MINNEAPOLIS -- The crowd screamed "Teddy, Teddy" on Sunday and those words were not followed by "How could you?" Nor were they followed by "Get rid of the ball, you knucklehead!"In fact, the people left TCF Bank Stadium starry-eyed as Bridgewater...
MINNEAPOLIS -- The crowd screamed “Teddy, Teddy” on Sunday and those words were not followed by “How could you?” Nor were they followed by “Get rid of the ball, you knucklehead!”
In fact, the people left TCF Bank Stadium starry-eyed as Bridgewater’s up-and-down season continued to trend upward for the second straight week. The Minnesota Vikings easily defeated the Bears 38-17, and Teddy is once again, unequivocally, the team’s quarterback of the future. For now, anyway. Next week? Depends on the outcome.
At the moment, no one is saying Bridgewater has a weak arm, or that he doesn’t use his feet enough to make plays. There were no complaints about holding onto the ball too long. All the fretting has stopped for the time being as the kid was outstanding on Sunday.
“These past two weeks I’ve seen a different look in his eyes,” Adrian Peterson said. “I really don’t have to say much to him. I see a look in his eyes and I know he’s good and he’s ready to go.”
“I haven’t noticed it,” chuckled Bridgewater, who isn’t much for hyperbole.
Well, when he was drafted last year he was a fun-loving, outspoken kid. But the NFL public relations machine has sanded him to a smooth finish. He now is as bland as a tuna fish sandwich served with a glass of tap water.
“This kid’s a winner,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “It’s not perfect all the time, but he is a winner.”
Sunday’s performance was close to perfect. Not since Brett Favre has a Viking quarterback thrown four touchdown passes in a game. He also ran for a score.
Overall, he completed 17 of 20 passes, wasn’t picked off and finished with an astounding quarterback rating of 154.4. Not bad for the quarterback of an offense that has been pigeonholed as one-dimensional.
“It shows that when we do put the ball in the air, we’re pretty good,” Teddy said. “We knew coming into this game that Chicago had a pretty good pass defense. And I think they were 20th in the league in rushing defense, so we had an idea that we may come in and rush the football because those guys had struggled stopping the run.
“Things happened today. The game plan allowed us to just go out there and throw the football around the park. Our guys did a great job of making sure they were the ones that came down with the football.”
What happened was that Peterson banged up an ankle late in the first half. One thing we know for sure about Bridgewater is that he is a better football player without Peterson on the field. Obviously, the Vikings rely heavily on Peterson because he is their best weapon on offense. Yet when he’s on the sideline, as he was for chunks of Sunday’s game, Bridgewater steps up from second banana to star of the show.
In those instances, he becomes a much more dynamic player, putting the responsibility on his own shoulders. He did that all last season as a rookie, which is why everyone was so enamored with him. With Peterson in there, however, he yields to the alpha male and is content to stay in the shadows.
“Our guys do a great job of responding to whoever’s in the game,” said Bridgewater, clearly sensing the need to deflect the question, lest something controversial escape his lips.
Perhaps the most entertaining Bridgewater play was when he scooted into the end zone from 12 yards out. As he neared the goal line, only cornerback Tracy Porter stood in his way. Bridgewater decided to try to go up and over him. What resulted was a big collision, six points for the Vikings and an audible gasp from everyone watching.
Bridgewater said he left his feet because he thought the defender was going to dive at his legs, a dangerous situation that already had occurred once in the game. He also remembered something Zimmer said.
“At the time, I think we had 24 points and I just remember Coach Zimmer saying during the week that he wanted us to score 30 points,” he noted.
The big victory also might provide some teaching moments for Vikings coaches. They should sit Teddy down and make him watch Sunday’s film of opposing quarterback Jay Cutler. And before the start of the film session they should tell him: “Watch closely what Cutler does. Then don’t do that.”
So Teddy will feel a warm breeze from the hot-and-cold blowing Vikings fans this week. He’s earned it. He is firmly established as the quarterback of the future ... and his reign will last at least until next Sunday.