Friday’s PFT Live from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis included a visit from the guy who built not the team’s new house but the team that will play there. And G.M. Rick Spielman talked at some length about the first-round quarterback who enters his third NFL season.
At a time when teammates rave about Teddy Bridgewater (“growth” was the most common word used by players we interviewed), some believe Bridgewater won’t become a franchise quarterback, pointing to the fact that he threw only 14 touchdowns passes in 2014 and only 14 again in 2015.
Spielman called criticism of Bridgewater “unfair,” explaining that “he is doing what our coaches are asking him to do.”
“One thing Coach Zimmer does preach to all our players is team first and however we’re going to have to win this game this week,” Spielman said. “If we’re going to have to run the ball 30 times, that’s what we’re going to do. If we have to throw the ball, that’s what we’re going to do. If we’re going to have to play good defense and ball control, whatever we have to do to win this week, that’s the most important thing. Teddy going into his second year last year, to go 11-5 and win the division, to go up there and beat Green Bay in Green Bay [for the NFC North title] and then play well in that playoff game against Seattle. I think people undervalue what Teddy brings to this football team, and the most important thing is when you look at the end of the day is wins and losses and Teddy is definitely a winner.”
When called upon to move the offense late in games, Bridgewater has done that on several occasions. And if Blair Walsh hadn’t missed a chip-shot field goal at the end of the wild-card game against the Seahawks, Bridgewater would have been heralded for setting up the victory by slicing through one of the best defenses in the league.
“There are games if you go through his first two years that he has shown he does have the ability in pressure situations to come through when we need him to make some plays,” Spielman said. “I think he had the least amount of pass attempts last year in the NFL as well, so a lot of that has to do with the game planning and how we’re going to win football games. But I don’t think anyone in our building has any doubt that if we have Teddy throw the ball 40 or 50 times, if that’s the way we have to win or if he has to go out there and throw the ball at the end of the game for us to win that he has that ability to do that.”
He may end up with plenty of chances to do that in 2016, on a national stage. With four prime-time games, a Thanksgiving game, and several other high-profile Sunday afternoon matchups (Panthers, Texans, Cardinals, Packers), whatever Bridgewater does this year will be noticed a lot more than it was in past years.