This article actually came out much earlier in the week, but issues I was having with getting behind the great E$PN In$ider paywall prevented me from getting to it before now.
Vikings' quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has taken his share of lumps this year. . .some deserved, certainly, but the majority of them have not been. One place where Bridgewater has been particularly outstanding is late in games, according to Mike Sando of ESPN.
Sando took a look at how quarterbacks across the NFL fared in "clutch situations," defined by Sando as situations where a team was trailing by one score (eight points or less) in the fourth quarter and overtime. Bridgewater has had 43 plays in those situations, according to Sando, and his QBR in those situations is a cool 82.4. That figure is good enough for fourth in the National Football League. . .not in the NFC North, not in the NFC, but in the entire NFL.
Here's what Sando has to say about Bridgewater's ability in these situations.
QBR in clutch: 82.4
Stats in clutch: 22-of-30 passing for 314 yards with two TDs, no INTs and six sacks, plus 29 yards rushing.
Signature moment: Bridgewater completed seven of 10 passes for 114 yards during the tying and winning drives at Chicago in Week 8. He threw the tying TD pass to Stefon Diggs on third down with two minutes remaining. Bridgewater then moved Minnesota into position for the winning field goal with a 35-yard strike to Charles Johnson on a pass that traveled 31 yards past the line of scrimmage. This play, with 36 seconds remaining, improved the Vikings' win probability by 36.7 percentage points.
Yes, Bridgewater wasn't good for the first 56 minutes of the first meeting against today's opponent, the Chicago Bears. But he was outstanding in the last four minutes, getting the team the tying touchdown and putting them in position for the game-winning field goal by Blair Walsh.
The three quarterbacks that Bridgewater trails on that list at Cam Newton (who the NFL should just name the league MVP and get it over with already), Marcus Mariota, and Carson Palmer.
As this season has worn on, the Teddy Troofers have been coming out of the woodwork en masse, because Bridgewater isn't throwing for 5,000 yards or 40 touchdowns. Some have even started comparing Bridgewater to former Vikings' quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Christian Ponder.
This is coming from the guy that was probably the last Christian Ponder supporter on the planet. If you're watching Teddy Bridgewater and seeing either Jackson or Ponder, call 911, because you're probably going to require some sort of medical assistance to unjam your head from your rear end. The way he conducts himself in the pocket and on the sideline alone should be enough to dispel any of those sorts of comparisons.
In addition, I'm going to go way out on a limb and suggest that neither Jackson nor Ponder ever had to deal with an offensive line that was anywhere near as bad as the one that Bridgewater is going out there behind every week. Last season, according to Pro Football Focus, Bridgewater was under pressure on just under 40% of the snaps he took, and we thought that figure was obscene. This year? It's somehow managed to get worse.
Teddy Bridgewater is now being pressured on 47.4% of dropbacks over the season, most in NFL. Vikings lead league in 7-step drops.— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 7, 2015
Literally every other time Bridgewater drops back to pass, he either has someone in his face or is running for his life. Because when you have an opportunity to repeatedly make your quarterback take seven-step drops with slow-developing routes behind what's probably the worst pass blocking line in the NFL, you've gotta do it, right?
Bridgewater has been fine this season when Norv Turner hasn't been making stupid, dead end play calls or actively trying to get him killed. If we start seeing more of the kind of game plan we saw against Arizona, with more short passing and less predictability, then I'm guessing things will change. If Norv goes back to "seven steps and chuck it deep" Norv, then this team. . .and Teddy Bridgewater's health. . .are likely going to suffer.
But, as someone that knows a whole lot more about this sort of stuff than I do once said. . .chill out on Teddy Bridgewater. Seriously.