When Teddy Bridgewater takes his first snap on Sunday in Denver he’ll have the equivalent of a full NFL season worth of starts.
The Vikings’ second-year quarterback is pleased with how he’s developed entering the milestone 16th career start.
“I think I’m making a ton of progress,” Bridgewater said. “There are some things that may go unnoticed, but I think the coaching staff just asking me to do some things, I feel like I’ve been doing a good job of doing those things. There’s still room for improvement. Each day we come to work there’s something that we can work on. I know for me, I’m going to continue to just try to play fast, be decisive in my decision making and stay aggressive.”
Bridgewater is 8-7 in the starting role and will get the opportunity to see how his progress stacks up against future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos Sunday on the road. Bridgewater is 22, while the 39-year-old Manning is a Super Bowl champion, a five-time league MVP and 14-time Pro Bowl selection.
The Vikings’ young quarterback, though, has continued to make the progress his employers had hoped for when they drafted him in the first round (32nd overall) in the 2014 NFL draft.
In his 15 starts, Bridgewater has 297 completions on 456 attempts for 3,276 yards, 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also has 51 carries for 218 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Much of his growth can’t be noticed in stats.
“There’s sometimes in the run game and things like that, whether it’s making the right checks, getting us out of bad plays and getting us into the right plays,” Bridgewater said about areas he has grown. “It comes with studying film, studying the game plan. Our coaching staff does a great job, especially coach [Norv] Tuner, of calling plays that we’re comfortable running and giving us the opportunity to play fast.”
Coach Mike Zimmer has also taken notice of his quarterback’s steady progress, most notably just in the past two weeks after the disappointing season opener in which Zimmer openly criticized Bridgewater’s performance. Sunday’s atmosphere in Denver will be another challenge Bridgewater will have to overcome if the Vikings hope to improve to 3-1.
“It always helps the crowd noise and all of those factors if we move the ball effectively,” Zimmer said. “One of the things [Bridgewater has] done very well is be able to make some plays with his legs, so I think that will probably be important this week. Make sure that we take good care of the football and then we’ll have some opportunities.”