Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What does it mean if Teddy Bridgewater doesn't beat out Matt Cassel this summer?

Now that the Vikings have drafted Teddy Bridgewater, the question becomes how long will it be until he takes over as the team's starter.

With Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder already on the roster, the Vikings have the luxury of not having to force feed the NFL to a rookie QB. With two players with plenty of experience, but mostly underwhelming results, as starters, the Vikings can break Bridgewater in slowly, and give him more time to acclimate himself to the NFL game and the pressures that come with it before making him the starter.

This sounds great in theory and it would be a fine strategy if the Vikings were already a playoff and Super Bowl contending team. But they are not, and one big reason they are not is QB play. Drafting Ted Bridgewater is supposed to change all of that, and if he's the kind of player I think he is and many football experts think he is, then he'll be the starter when the Vikes open the 2013 season in St. Louis.

Here is the thing though - what if Bridgewater doesn't show he is clearly better than Cassel and Ponder during training camp and the exhibition games and doesn't earn the starting job? As Pacifist Viking pointed out in his last post, young QBs who have proven to be very good have been very good from the get-go of late. If Bridgewater - even as a rookie - can't show he's an immensely better QB than one so-so veteran (Cassel) and one less than so-so veteran (Ponder), how good is he, really?

Football players can improve with experience and better coaching, and some players improve a lot. But if Bridgewater isn't outperforming Cassel and Ponder by a wide margin this August, I'm going to start worrying that the Vikings might be looking for their next franchise QB in the 2017 draft.

I'm not expecting that to happen, but as a Vikings fan you'll have to forgive me as I deploy this defense mechanism. It's just the nature of being a fan of this team.      


  1. I expect Bridgewater to take over sometime between week 6 and week 10, to have some major ups and downs, and to give enough evidence to be named starter next year. Then I expect him to show us whether he's the guy for the next decade+.

    Also, Super Bowl in Minneapolis 2018!

    1. Peter:

      Yeah, just seeing that now. Hopefully the Vikings will reach the Super Bowl BEFORE 2018, and, of course, I'm hoping we don't see the Packers representing the NFC when it happens. Aaron Rodgers should be over the hill by then, huh?

  2. I hope people aren’t getting unrealistic expectations with this kid. I think Peter’s nailed how it will go next year. I know young QB’s have been good early, but that’s a relative good. Playing QB in the NFL is extremely difficult and there’s a definite learning curve involved no matter how good they are. Two recent Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, Rodgers and Roethlisburger (as well as Flacco, Eli, Brees), took time to mature. Even Tom Brady wasn’t the Tom Brady for his first couple years. It is unrealistic to think that Bridgewater has to beat out a veteran like Cassel in August, unless they just hand him the job to get him started on that learning curve. That’s what I would do. Hopefully he shows enough to get in there early.

    Andrew Luck is a special, special player. Cam Newton is a physical freak, he’s straight out of a lab. RG3 was made to look better than he really was and crashed back down in year 2. We’ll see how good he actually is, pretty damn good I think, but they don’t know for sure. Even die hard Skins fans down here are worried. Russell Wilson is very good, but they didn’t ask him to do much most of the time he was like Big Ben, especially his first year. Is Tannehill a bust? Is Nick Foles for real? Sam Bradford was the #1 guy out of college just like Teddy was, and they still don’t know what the hell they have in St. Louis. It takes time to find these things out; will Zimmer be patient enough through the early bumps in the road? He can probably go anywhere from 8-8 up to 10-6 with Cassel. After waiting all this time to lead a team, would he rather fight for a playoff spot now than take his lumps with a youngster? Hopefully Bridgewater’s development will be priority one, but you never know.

    Someone like Andy Dalton is a good example. He was pretty good early, but hasn’t really built much off of that and jumped to the next level like fans had hoped. The leap that Rodgers and Big Ben took hasn’t happened. What if we’re sitting there in 2017 with Teddy Ballgame looking pretty much like a Dalton, is that good enough?

    1. Really good thoughts here. I agree especially with the uncertainty around Tannehill, Foles and Bradford. I think Tannehill can be quite good and I like Miami's offseason so far, but we'll see how it goes.

      Good QBs can have their careers short-changed by bad circumstances. Could Harrington have made some noise in the league with a different team? It's not that crazy. What if Philly and Jacksonville had swapped QBs last year, would Gabbert have looked better than Foles, or would the Jaguars have elevated and the Eagles descended?

      I like Bridgewater and his Louisville fans ought to be happy with the kind of team that drafted him. I have significantly higher hopes for him than I did for Ponder after he was drafted, but I am certainly not expecting an Andrew Luck-like rookie season.

    2. I've said this before, but anyway, Bridgewater is entering a situation that's much better than Harrington, Gabbert and Luck ever did. The offensive line is good and could be great if Kalil bounces back, Fusco continues to improve and Yankey is as good as his press clippings indicate and he replaces Johnson tout suite. You've got Peterson to hand it off to, and Jennings, Patterson, Simpson, Wright and Rudolph to throw it to. That's a pretty nice set of chess pieces for a rookie to work with. Let's get this season started.

  3. I'm not expecting much from Yankey this year. Draft projections be damned, if he was good enough to step in and start someone would have taken him earlier than the fifth round. I know sometimes players fall through the cracks but he was a high-profile collegiate player, not a small-school find like Fusco. The fact he fell as far as he did tells me the pro's see serious holes in his game. Maybe Bacca is ready to step in but I'll be shocked if Yankey is the starter.

    I've got mixed feelings about TB. Normally I'd rather see the rookie sit for a while, but it seems like Teddy is strong in the areasthat most rookies need to develop; reading defenses and seeing the field (what Ponder never could do). A Bortles really needs to sit and develop. Teddy probably needs to play.

    1. shimrod:

      Point taken about Yankey, although guards don't tend to get drafted very high as a rule and with all the underclassman coming out and this being called such a deep draft, especially at WR, QB and DB, it's possible guards were drafted even lower than usual this time. But we'll see.

      I'm excited about seeing what Bridgewater can do, but kind of nervous excitement. If he pans out, he changes the Vikings fortunes very quickly.