Despite their poor record, Vikings fans have confidence that their team is on the rise and that is largely due to the continued development of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Mark Craig, the Vikings writer and NFL columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune tells Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune why:
“There was some belief in (quarterback) Christian Ponder at the end of his rookie season in 2011, too. So that probably has some fans spooked because of how badly Ponder’s career flopped. But for most objective observers, Bridgewater is different mainly because of how calm he remains in chaotic situations. Even when Ponder was considered on the rise, he ran from pressure and never really thought his way through it while still in the pocket.
“Bridgewater does that routinely, and I think fans recognize that there could be a bright future with him and [offensive coordinator Norv] Turner united.”
Many will say in hindsight that that signing quarterback Jay Cutler was the lowest point of 2014 for the organization. I disagree. The worst day for the Bears and the rest of the NFC North all year was the day that the rest of the league allowed Bridgewater to fall to the Vikings.
From the minute I saw Bridgewater play in college at Louisville I thought he was going to be a very good NFL quarterback. A blind man could see that he was already playing like one. He moved like one, he thought like one, he threw accurately and with anticipation like one.
The fact that he wasn’t drafted higher and, in particular, that Johnny Manziel was taken ahead of him is a prime example of the stupidity of football personnel men who value outstanding arm strength and athleticism over these traits. The guess here is that football coaches in particular are the worst in this regard. Their confidence in themselve leads them to believe that the traits that Bridgewater exhibits can be coached and that all a prospect needs is physical talent and the right guy to mold it. Cutler is a living tribute to why this approach doesn’t work. You don’t need many years as a neutral observer of the NFL to understand that physical talent is not all you need and, indeed, isn’t the most important characteristic.
Don’t get me wrong. You can’t draft a quarterback without some arm strength and Bridgewater doesn’t lack it. But to emphasize these traits over his obvious talent is areas that make a truly great pro quarterback was, and is, idiocy. With the cap space eaten up by Cutler’s contract and the Vikings’ acquisition of Bridgewater, the Bears may be paying the price for that misconception for a long time.