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Stepping Back From The Ledge

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In this age of instant analysis, people think Teddy Bridgewater stinks. After, you know, one half of one pre-season game. Let's step back from the ledge.

TEDDY BUSTWATER RAWR RAWR RAWR....hardly.
TEDDY BUSTWATER RAWR RAWR RAWR....hardly.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

I really like living in the time we live in.  If this were 30 years ago, we'd only have 20 channels, and there would be no chance to watch the Vikings week in and week out, unless you lived in the Vikings TV viewing area.

The wealth of information at our fingertips today is, essentially, all of man's collected knowledge, throughout history. A person growing up today can, with no formal instruction, dial up as much or as little knowledge about a subject, and with a little initiative, become an expert in that subject if they want to be. Whether you're an auditory learner, a visual learner, or something else, you can find the medium that best suits you and find almost anything you want to learn about.

It's really remarkable, if you take the time to stop and think about it.

But there's also the flip side to that--the instant gratification, instant analysis that is desired and demanded by the American sporting public.  And that leads me to the crux of this story, the first week of pre-season NFL football.

This past weekend, the ‘Big Three' quarterbacks taken in the 2014 NFL Draft--Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, and our own Teddy Bridgewater, played their first game against NFL competition, and all had varying results.  Let's break down their stat lines:

Player

Att

Comp

Yds

Comp %

TD

INT

Rating

Blake Bortles

11

7

117

63.6

0

0

99.4

Johhny Manziel

11

7

63

63.6

0

0

79.0

Teddy Bridgewater

13

6

49

46

0

0

56.2

Manziel, who is also a running quarterback, had 6 carries for 27 yards.  I didn't watch either the Jacksonville or Cleveland game, but in reading the game summaries, both Bortles and Manziel were described as ‘solid', and good for them. I hope they become great NFL quarterbacks, and have long careers.

But in this instant analysis age, if there is a ‘good', or ‘solid', there must also be a ‘bad', or ‘shaky', and that's how a lot of people described Bridgewater's performance.  Which is why, when this tweet came across my timeline yesterday, there followed a bit of panic among some of my followers on the Twitters:

Of all the snap judgement things people say on Twitter, that has to be right up there as one of the most snap judgementy-ish things I've seen.  To be fair, Bridgewater had some shaky moments, but to say who is the ‘most ready' to play in the NFL after one half of one pre-season game is beyond ridiculous.  But that said, let's take this tweet at face value for a minute, and say it is, in fact, 100% accurate.  I'd like to pose this question to you, the fine folks that make up The Daily Norseman and Viking fandom:

So what?

It's one game.  A pre-season game.  And, you know, not even a WHOLE pre-season game.  Would I have like Bridgewater to have gone 13/13, with 240 yards and three scores? Sure, of course. Does it bother me that he didn't?

No, not at all.

RAWR RAWR RAWR TED HOW CAN YOU NOT GIVE US SNAP JUDGEMENTS RAWR RAWR RAWR

Folks, chillax.  Things are going to be fine with Teddy, and I say that for a couple reasons.

1) He came in and played against a first team defense, Bortles and Manziel did not. But that in and of itself doesn't mean a whole lot, although when he did play against a first team defense, he lead the Vikings to a field goal.

2) Bridgewater has the things that matter the most for an NFL quarterback.  For one, pocket presence.  Go back and watch the game film of Bridgewater.  I want you to pay attention to his poise and pocket awareness, and compare it to long time veteran Matt Cassel.  There's little to no difference between the two. He doesn't get nervous, he doesn't get happy feet, and his eyes are always downfield, going through his progression. Now, go back and compare that to almost every rookie that played, and to the guys the Vikings have taken in recent drafts in their first NFL action. It's a night and day difference.

3) Decision making. Bridgewater, for the most part, made good decisions all night. He had that bad fumble on the first drive, but he didn't let two penalties that negated a 21 yard pass to Greg Jennings on his first throw affect him. He might have forced one throw on his second drive, but that could be argued it was a combination of good coverage and a drop on the receiver's part.

If there was one thing that seemed to stick out to me, it was that Bridgewater might not have been used to the speed of the NFL game compared to the college game.  I say that because he seemed to hold the ball a little bit longer than normal, and when he did throw, it appeared to be a checkdown in the 10-15 yard intermediate range. If you have all those other things, the mind will catch up to the speed, and his decision making will remain sound, but speed up.  When that happens, look out kids, because it's going to be awesome.

I say all this not to make excuses, but to try and talk folks off the ledge.  It's one pre-season game,  and although the stat line doesn't show it, there were a lot of things to like from Bridgewater's performance on Friday.

Let's step back, put things in perspective, and have some fun watching this team grow up in front of our eyes, because it's going to be a treat.