After his first two NFL seasons, there are a lot of people that still like to rail on Minnesota Vikings' quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for his lack of big numbers compared to some of his contemporaries. Frankly, in this writer's opinion, anybody that's down on Bridgewater at this point either a) doesn't actually watch football or b) is really kind of dumb. As we've pointed out before, Bridgewater is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL. . .if not the only one. . .who is generally forced to take a backseat to a running back in his team's offense. If he was allowed to be the centerpiece rather than a member of the supporting cast, his raw numbers would likely be much more impressive.
Enter the folks from Pro Football Focus, who have released a quintet of "crazy good stats" from this past NFL season, and they lead off with one that should make most Vikings fans happy. . .the fact that Bridgewater finished this season as the most accurate passer in the National Football League.
Ever since the Louisville pro day debacle before the 2014 draft, critics have been out in full force on Teddy. He's too slender. He's weak-armed. His release point is too low. His traditional stats haven't helped him much, either. 30 games in to his career (including a playoff game), Teddy has 28 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and a passer rating of 87.0.
What the traditional stats don't show, however, is just how accurate Bridgewater is. The Viking led the NFL in 2015 with an accuracy percentage of 79.3. While this number is inflated by the large amount of short throws required by the Minnesota offense, it is no small feat to be the most accurate in the league. In fact, Teddy scored his best passing grades on throws between 10-19 yards, and broke even on throws over 20 yards.
You have to wonder if Bridgewater's modest touchdown and yardage totals are more a product of the Vikings' offensive style, rather than an indictment of the QB's abilities.
That last sentence really does sum it all up. Teddy Bridgewater has shown all the abilities to be a big time, productive quarterback given the opportunity. Unfortunately, he runs an offense whose strategy is, more often than not. . .
-First down - Handoff to Adrian Peterson
-Second down - Handoff to Adrian Peterson
-Third down - Hope that Bridgewater can make something happen with three or four defenders in his face and/or while running for his life because it's 3rd-and-7 and everyone knows the Vikings have to throw
-Either punt on fourth down or repeat steps one through three
A lot of people aren't going to want to hear this, but at some point this team would probably be best served by making a real, honest-to-goodness commitment to Teddy Bridgewater and his development as a quarterback and, ultimately, the focal point of the Minnesota offense. I'm not sure when it's going to happen or how they're going to go about doing it, but it has to happen at some point. The other quarterbacks that have been drafted over the past few years aren't constrained by run-run-pass-punt, and hopefully there will come a point where Bridgewater isn't, either.
In his two years as Minnesota's quarterback, Bridgewater has shown a propensity to not kill his team with stupid decisions and giving his receivers the opportunity to make plays after the catch. He's capable of significantly more. Hopefully, in 2016, we can find out exactly how much more.