Going into the 2014 NFL Draft, everybody knew that the Minnesota Vikings were going to draft a quarterback. They had discovered that Christian Ponder wasn't the answer and that Matt Cassel was not the long term solution at the position. And there were a number of options at the position in the early portions of the draft.
There was the prototype, represented by Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, who had the size that teams wants from quarterbacks today and the arm to match. There was the superstar, former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel out of Texas A&M, who had put together a highlight reel a mile long. And there was a legacy guy in Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, who was trying to step out of the shadow of his brother David, a former #1 overall draft choice.
But as the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft came to a close, the Minnesota Vikings. . .after acquiring a second first-round pick by trading back up with the Seattle Seahawks. . .didn't find themselves with any of those shiny, flashy, exciting options. No, they decided to move back up to the 32nd overall pick to draft dull, boring ol' Teddy Bridgewater.
And the crowd went mild. Well, the crowd outside of Minnesota, anyway.
After all, the only thing anybody had heard about Bridgewater was how he didn't have what it took to be a big-time National Football League quarterback. He wasn't big enough at 6'2" and 215 pounds (the same height as some guy named Aaron Rodgers, while weighing a whole ten pounds less). He didn't have a big enough arm. He wasn't accurate enough (after being second in all of college football in completion percentage while posting a TD-to-INT ratio of 31-4 in his final year at Louisville). For crying out loud, he LOOKED AWFUL AT HIS PRO DAY WHILE THROWING IN A T-SHIRT AND SHORTS WHO ON EARTH IS GOING TO WANT TO BUILD A FRANCHISE AROUND THIS FREAKING GUY ARE YOU SERIOUS!?
And just like that, a guy who had been in the conversation to be the #1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft since the day the 2013 NFL Draft concluded had been downgraded to the point where he was thought by at least one pundit, Mike Mayock of the NFL Network, to be a third-round pick.
Noted Tim Tebow fanboy (and professional dolt) Skip Bayless, serving as the Flava Flav to Manziel's Chuck D, seemed incredibly displeased by the selection.
Every team that passed Manziel as they fell into NFL sheep-think will regret it. How is Johnny not a Texan, Jag, Raider, Viking, Titan …— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 9, 2014
Teddy Bridgewater will frustrate Vikings just the way Ponder did. Good kid, just not accurate enough.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 9, 2014
Well, ol' Skip certainly did hit the nail on the head about that whole accuracy thing. This past weekend against the Miami Dolphins, Bridgewater put up his fourth consecutive game of completing at least 70% of his passes, something that no NFL rookie had ever done before. Frankly, that's something that a whole lot of veteran quarterbacks haven't done, never mind rookies.
His 2,710 passing yards this year puts him third among rookies behind Carr (3,112) and Bortles (2,794). Impressive, considering that Bridgewater has 186 fewer attempts than Carr (who started for the Raiders from the first game of the year) and 65 fewer attempts than Bortles. He's averaging nearly a full yard/attempt more than Bortles (7.19 to 6.31) and 1.67 yards/attempt more than Carr (7.19 to 5.52). We've been over the injuries and other setbacks that Bridgewater has had to deal with so far this season ad nauseum, but it's safe to say he hasn't exactly been dealt an idea hand thus far.
Want to be more impressed with what Bridgewater is doing so far? Read this article by Cian Fahey. (Ignore the domain name on the article. . .Cian does a lot of good work for Football Outsiders as well.) The Vikings haven't "condensed" or "pared down" the playbook for Teddy Bridgewater. They didn't have to. Teddy's been playing with the full playbook since pre-season. Frankly, he should have been the starter for this team since Day 1, and he's certainly not going to have to worry about any sort of "challenge" from the likes of Matt Cassel going into next season.
Sooner rather than later, a lot of people are going to have to explain exactly why they decided to pass on Teddy "Theodore" Bridgewater in 2014. Frankly, it should probably be the subject of its own "30 for 30" on ESPN.
What if I told you. . .that, at one time, somebody thought that Johnny Manziel was a better quarterback than Teddy Bridgewater.
cut to Cleveland Browns' General Manager Ray Farmer
"Well, we did that study. . .cost us $100,000. . .told us that Bridgewater was the best quarterback in the draft. . .but you know, when a homeless guy tells you take Johnny Football, you have to do it, don't you?"
And the Minnesota Vikings didn't have to "Tank for Teddy," which was the popular mantra for most of the 2013 regular season. This simply serves to emphasize that, at all times, winning football games is infinitely more important than attempting to "play for draft position" later on in the season. That's probably why the Minnesota Vikings ended up with Bridgewater in the first place. When you go about your business the right way, things have a way of working themselves out.
(Remember, kids, "tanking" is stupid, the concept of "tanking" is stupid, and advocating "tanking" may be the stupidest thing ever. Never forget that.)
To butcher a line from a relatively famous police commissioner, Teddy Bridgewater isn't just the quarterback the Minnesota Vikings needed. . .quite frankly, he's the quarterback that the Minnesota Vikings (and their fans) deserve. And when the Minnesota Vikings play their first game in the best stadium in professional sports in 2016, Bridgewater will have reached the ripe old age of. . .23.
For the first time in about a decade, the Minnesota Vikings don't have a quarterback issue. Barring injury, they're not going to have a quarterback issue for a very, very long time. Isn't that pretty much the greatest feeling ever?