I hate to keep relying on Reddit’s /r/MinnesotaVikings as my only view into the general Vikings zeitgeist but I am not a big believer in the “It’s JUST the internet!” excuse when people try to ignore the sheer amount of nonsense that goes on online.
The internet is a perfect peak into the collective psyche of society. People are uninhibited by most anything, most repercussions, most self esteem issues. When it comes to the latter, they most likely are projecting their self esteem isssues. But still. It let’s you know exactly what people are thinking, without the general hindrances of … most anything.
So, what do we see when we look into the average Vikings fan’s perception of our second year Quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater?
Great things! Apparently he’s just a product of any number of variables or factors. Or, basically anything that has to do with the passing game, or offense in general. Name ANYTHING you can think of when it comes to the passing offense, and that’s the reason why Teddy isn’t putting up big numbers, or specifically why things AREN’T his fault.
The offensive line? The play calling? The running backs? The game plan? The coaches? The snapper? The fans? All of the above?
And it isn’t just /r/MinnesotaVikings. It’s everywhere. It’s on The Daily Norseman. Basically, now that people realize it’s not Wallace’s fault, they’ve moved on to the next obvious victim. Adrian Peterson. Clearly, because AD struggles to run out of the shotgun, and Teddy prefers to throw out of the shotgun (whether that’s because of his natural preference, or where he feels most comfortable, or because our line blows and when lines blow the Shotgun is the obvious play calling choice).
So. The consensus is that we should bench or limit Adrian Peterson, to allow Teddy to run the Shotgun with Asiata/Mckinnon, who can block better than AD and allow Teddy to continue his inevitable ascension to the top of the QB heap. I am not kidding you. Or really, I’m just telling you what you already think and angering up your blood by being snide about it.
Here’s a perfect example. I decided to log onto Reddit yesterday, which I typically avoid after we lose because I just don’t like being reminded of trauma. I saw this as the top post at the time, one of 2 “don’t blame Teddy” posts in the top 5.
At least there is SOME note of responsibility or accountability on Teddy’s part. But I felt like this was the best example of not only that users delusions, but that section of the fanbase in general (which at this point represents all Vikes fans). Let’s talk about each of these, as it’s the best way to show people that Teddy actually isn’t just struggling, he’s in a full blown regression.
First of all. Yes. The offensive line does SUCK. Or do they?
15. Minnesota Vikings (21st)
Pass blocking rank: 16th
Run blocking rank: 17th
Penalties rank: 3rd
Stud: Credit to the versatile Joe Berger (+2.6) for filling in for John Sullivan admirably.
Dud: The team likely didn’t expect T.J. Clemmings (-7.6) to have to start. He’s not ready to go one-on-one with players like Von Miller.
Summary: Given the injuries they’ve had, this can be considered something of a win. Matt Kalil is playing better, Michael Harris looks like a different player at guard, and there’s Sullivan’s return to look forward to.
14. Minnesota Vikings (15th)
Pass blocking rank: 14th
Run blocking rank: 17th
Penalties rank: T-8th
Stud: Nobody expected Joe Berger (83.1) to fill in for John Sullivan so well, but he has.
Dud: A disappointing year for Brandon Fusco (44.5) who has given up way too much pressure by his own high standards.
Summary: There’s been an improvement in Matt Kalil (54.8), which has been good to see, but no real standout performances. That said, they’ve done a lot better than expected, given how they’ve coped without two lynchpins on the line.
Perhaps NFL.com is less polite, or maybe they have stats from last Sunday. Currently they have the unit ranked 26th. Which isn’t great. But, the point is that only a few weeks ago, the unit was ranked in the middle of the field, was Teddy struggling at the time? Yep.
The reason I post rankings from earlier in the season is to show that the line hasn’t been perpetually abysmal. But Teddy’s numbers and performance HAS. I remember, vividly, showing a quote from Zimmer after the San Francisco debacle. It was thoroughly mocked for being “From week 1” and “ancient history!”. But these same people are now pointing to Teddy’s 2014 December as evidence that somehow… Adrian Peterson is to blame for his 2015 struggles. It’s that type of fan “logic” that bothers me. Big time.
You could argue that because Teddy has been hit so much, that he’s gun shy and making bad passes because he’s forcing things. I don’t think anyone has ever described Teddy as someone who “forces” things.
Take this Norv Turner quote for example:
“We trust that Teddy’s going to make the right decisions,” Turner said. “I think, for the most part, he does. I agree with Coach Zimmer that he needs to turn it loose. I do think, though, that there is a fine line. We’ve played some good defenses; our defense is playing unbelievable. We’re not giving the defense the ball in plus territory by making mistakes. With a guy like Teddy, who we do really trust, you can take the shots, and if they’re not there, check down, be smart, and [don’t] just force something.”
Talk about a great segue! I heard on KFAN today that the Arizona Sports DJ’s have taken to calling Bridgewater “Check down Teddy”.
“It just happens in this offense if you know where your check-downs are and things like that,” Bridgewater said. “In this offense you always have an outlet in the passing game. Our guys do a great job of being spaced up, understanding passing concepts. For me, I try to get through my progressions fast and not hold on to the football, it just allows those guys to make plays and it showed Sunday, 11 different guys were able to touch the football and make plays for us.”
The problem is that Teddy check’s down more often than not. And as much as I hate Arizona as a whole, the Cardinals as a team and their sports radio DJ’s, they have a point.
“We have the big-play capability,” Bridgewater said. “We call those shots. They’re there throughout the course of the game. But sometimes it may not come up the way we draw it up, and sometimes we may check the ball down, things like that.”
The only big plays that we’ve made are checkdowns that are turned into big plays by the receivers after the catch. For example, the late TD by Diggs against the Bears? That was ALL Diggs. That play seems to be the only first down throw Turner feels comfortable calling for Teddy. The 15 yard button hook that switches from the left side of the field to the right, depending on how the coin flip plays out.
However. No one was really in panic mode, at least to this extent, a few weeks ago. Why? Because we were winning. Our defense wasn’t decimated by injuries, and the line was producing enough holes for AP to be AD. Really, it’s because we were winning. We were literally getting the same amount of yards through the air that we were getting on the ground, and people were happy. Because that was the “game plan”, and Teddy was the “game planager”.
Or was he?
“Coach Zimmer doesn’t like the word game manager,” Bridgewater said. “He says I’m a playmaker. Hearing that from him, that just speaks volumes.”
Oh. Okay. So, they’re actually planning for him to do more? and it’s just not happening?
Let’s ask Zimmer:
“I don’t know what a game manager is really,” Zimmer said, “but I think Teddy has got an extremely bright future, I think he’s a heck of a quarterback and I’m glad he’s mine.”
Me too. Maybe.
So, realistically I don’t think they’ve planned or schemed for Teddy to manage games. I don’t think that the play calls are necessarily “check downs”, I think that Teddy just check’s down because he refuses to take any chances.
I do think that the line has something to do with that, and I do think that Teddy doesn’t play as well under Center as he does out of the Shotgun.
But, realistically. To say that we need to get rid of Adrian Peterson because he can’t run out of the shotgun, is literal insanity.
By saying that, you’re actually pointing out that your QB/personal god has gigantic flaws. You’re saying that Teddy IS NOT a complete NFL QB. That he can only succeed under strict circumstances. That he has to be the sole focus of the offense, and that nothing is his fault.
I know he’s young. And that he can improve. But to say that we need to bench a hall of fame running back who is playing as good or better than he ever has, because the way he runs isn’t congruent with the way Teddy plays QB. Just goes to show you that we have a limited QB who is struggling, by your own words.
Has that ever happened before? Did Elway have to bench Davis in order for the Broncos to succeed? Really?
We can find a balance. Which would limit AD. I have no problem with that. But I do have a problem with people basically implying that the coaching staff that we have seems to do things because they WANT to and not because they NEED to.
They know a lot more about the in’s and out’s than we do. Which is why Zimmer, yet again, criticized sites like Pro Football Focus, because each play is broken down without the insider knowledge necessary to provide REAL grades. As in,you don’t really know what the play call is or was for each individual play. Or what the INTENT was for each player, each time. So, it’s impossible to actually grade people completely without actually knowing the play call.
That extends to this. People are assuming that Teddy is simply being “held back” because the coaches are bending to AD. As opposed to perhaps realizing that we are an offense that’s run by AD because Teddy can’t make the proper throws right now. And that’s not me completely blaming Teddy, either. The line is an issue. The WR’s are a part of it. But, I simply don’t think it’s realistic to continue to go through the Vikings rolodex to find anyone, or everyone to blame that isn’t Teddy B.
It would have been easy for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer to blame his offensive line. Instead, he pointed the finger at his quarterback.
Zimmer was asked after the 20-3 loss to San Francisco how he felt about his retooled line, which gave up five sacks to Teddy Bridgewater and had a hard time opening holes for a running game that had just 71 yards on 17 carries.
“I don’t know that it was all about the offensive line,’’ Zimmer said. “I think some of it was Teddy. You know, probably a lot of it was Teddy. Teddy did not play well.’’
But… We ran shotgun runs… and passes. As well as some Pistol formations. Now, the argument could go both ways. Really.
We could say that Teddy needs to get better at playing under center, or under the I formation. Or that Adrian Peterson needs to play better out of the shotgun, and picking up blitzes. The MAIN difference?
THIS SEASON, Adrian has shown that when he gets the ball under center, he can dictate the entire game and have success. Teddy, THIS SEASON, hasn’t shown the same. We are putting all of our chips on a theoretical hope that Teddy will succeed out of the shotgun, while basically limiting what has been our only successful offensive weapon thus far this season.
The other difference is, Quarterbacks need to be able to play out of multiple formations to be successful in this league. Running Backs do not. There are no “third down” QB’s. So, really, at this point. We have nothing to lose. We can’t win in the playoffs with a QB who can only play at an NFL level, maybe, out of the Shotgun. But, if that’s what we need to do in order to get our passing game going. It’s worth the risk considering we have limited time.
The point is, however. By doing so, people do need to admit that Teddy has flaws and that this is HIS fault. I have no problem with us altering the offense to suit Teddy’s needs. But I’d like people to actually be realistic about it. It’s impossible to balance this, otherwise. By saying you need to limit AD to cater to Teddy’s strengths, you’re clearly avoiding saying that he has weaknesses. And that’s not fair or helpful.
So. Let’s go for it. Why not? We’re up against the #2 seed tonight, the most balanced team in the NFC and probably the league. We are missing our top 3 defensive players, and we’re 4 days removed from a shit kicking the likes of which we haven’t seen around here since the 2001 NFC Championship.
So, let’s revert to a 2014 offense. Let’s give the ball to the 3 yards no matter the scenario Asiata and the “meh” converted QB, McKinnon. Let’s let Teddy take over, like he should’ve last week, and ignore our strengths and weaknesses!
Why not. As long as you can admit that Teddy has some flaws, I’ll admit that we can’t win in the playoffs under the circumstances we’ve had up until now.