All things considered, Teddy Bridgewater had a phenomenal rookie season in Minnesota.
Think about it: He didn’t have Adrian Peterson, and aside from Greg Jennings, his top receivers were Jarius Wright and Charles Johnson. Those aren’t bad players, mind you, but if you look around the league, certainly you could find a number of quarterbacks with a more explosive collection of weapons at their disposal. Nevertheless, Bridgewater completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 13 games.
Without Bridgewater’s calming presence, the Vikings would have been in disarray. Instead, they finished a respectable 7-9.
“(It was) pretty good,” Bridgewater said of his rookie season on Tiki and Tierney. “It had its ups and downs, but for the most part, there were more positives than negatives. After all that we dealt with, all the adversity, all the obstacles that we had to overcome, I think it speaks volumes for the team. We have a great group of men in that locker room, a great group of leaders. Chad Greenway, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen – the list goes on and on.”
Bridgewater, 22, said he wasn’t afraid to lead his veteran teammates this season. In fact, he enjoyed it.
“It’s pretty cool, actually,” Bridgewater said. “To be in the locker room with a group of veterans like a Greg Jennings, Phil Loadholt, John Sullivan – those guys, they’re looking to me. I’m the guy calling the play in that huddle. The other guys in that huddle are looking at me and putting their trust in me. It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re asked to do a lot and your responsibility is much larger than some of the other guys on the team. But it’s pretty cool, especially for a young guy like myself.”
As Brandon Tierney has noted several times on the show, Bridgewater has an uncanny ability to play his best when the pressure is at its highest – even if he’s had a pedestrian game up until that point.
How do you explain that? How is a rookie quarterback that poised and that polished so soon?
“I know that when the game is on the line, everyone’s going to be running around like their hair is on fire and I know that I have to be the eye of the hurricane,” Bridgewater said. “That’s the most calm part of the hurricane. When everything’s going crazy around you, you just remain clam. I was told by Coach Norv Turner and Scott Turner, that’s what this league is all about. Games are going to come down to the last minute where you have to put a drive together and go down and kick a field goal to either tie a game or win a football game or go down the field and score a touchdown to win a game or tie a game. So we know that’s what it’s going to take to win a game in this league. And we let some slip away this year, but for the most part, we did a great job and we just have to continue to remain poised in those stations.”
The Vikings, like all teams, had some close losses this season, but it’ll be interesting to see how they fare next year once Bridgewater has a full offseason under his belt. It’d also be could for Minnesota’s sake if its best player isn’t forced out of action one game into the season.
“It was different because we (suddenly had) to game-plan without Adrian,” Bridgewater explained. “But Matt Asiata, Jerick McKinnon, Joe Banyard – those guys did a great job just stepping up in crucial situations for us. They gave us another identity that we can run the football, and we just made the best of what we had.”