This past Friday, Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson was a guest of Mike Florio's on PFT Live. As Peterson is wont to do when someone puts a live microphone in front of him, he made a statement about his young quarterback that has managed to get some tongues wagging.
He reminds me of a Tom Brady because Tom Brady is great at those mediocre passes," Peterson said. "Those short passes and midrange passes and that's exactly what Teddy does as well. He's the type of guy that needs the receiver that runs routes and that's at a specific location that you're practicing. So I feel like with the additions that we've made to the offensive line and of course me envisioning what I'll be able to bring to the offense as well I think that's going to make his job a lot easier. With that he'll feel more comfortable and he can really get back there and just play his game. So I'm expecting big things from Teddy this year.
(Side note: "Mediocre" passes? Yeesh.)
It's important to absorb exactly what Peterson said here. He's not saying that Teddy Bridgewater is as good as Tom Brady or is on the same level as Tom Brady or will put up the same sort of numbers as Tom Brady. But what Peterson said about Bridgewater's ability in the short and mid-range passing game and how it compares to Brady is absolutely correct.
In his first two NFL seasons, few quarterbacks in the NFL have been pressured more than Teddy Bridgewater has. In 2014, Pro Football Focus calculated that he was under pressure on 39.9% of his pass attempts (third-most in the NFL), and that number actually got worse in 2015, jumping to 46.7% of his dropbacks, the highest number in the league.
Despite his constant need to be on the run for his health and safety, Bridgewater has been one of the NFL's most accurate quarterbacks the past two seasons. In 2014, PFF graded his accuracy percentage at 77.3%, the third-highest percentage in the league. Then, despite being under even more pressure in 2015, his accuracy percentage increased, jumping to an NFL-leading 79.3%.
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.
Well, I'm not sure how much we have to wonder about that, to be honest. I think we can pretty well draw the conclusion that's the case. As we've seen over the course of his first two seasons, when Teddy Bridgewater gets time, good things happen. Even when he doesn't get time, good things happen more frequently than bad things. As far as touchdown totals, Bridgewater is the only quarterback in the league with the option to turn around and hand the ball to Adrian Peterson near the goal line, which cuts into his number of scoring passes.
The Vikings have taken a lot of steps to fix their offensive line woes from the past two seasons. They've also brought in a couple of coaches with offensive coordinator experience in new offensive line coach Tony Sparano and tight ends coach Pat Shurmur to attempt to add some new wrinkles to Norv Turner's scheme. Hopefully the combination of those things can produce an offense that can play more to Teddy Bridgewater's strengths in the short and mid-range passing game and give him an opportunity to really take off in his third NFL season.