Turner has long since turned the page from evaluating to coaching. Although head coach Mike Zimmer said getting his rookie quarterback some time with the first-team offensive line was important in the preseason opener, Turner dismissed the notion that he needs to see Bridgewater more with the starters to get a gauge on him.
“That is so overrated. You get an evaluation of a guy when he plays,” Turner said. “The things that are going to happen to him with the seconds are the same exact things that are going to happen to him with the ones. … I am not interested in evaluating Teddy. I’m interested in coaching him, and continuing to help him get better. We evaluated Teddy before the draft and we know what he is capable of doing. Now we just have to keep coaching him and coaching him, so he knows exactly what he needs to do on each play.”
Zimmer said he and Turner have talked about the quarterback plan for Saturday night’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, but he hasn’t talked to other coaches or players about who will start and how much they are expected to play.
However, Monday night’s practice wasn’t an encouraging sign. Bridgewater threw two interceptions in full team work – a red zone interception across the middle that linebacker Audie Cole snared and a pass to the flat that went off the hands of running back Jerick McKinnon and into the arms of cornerback Shaun Prater – and another one during seven-on-seven work.
“There is definitely a lot being throwing at him, but I don’t think his head is spinning,” receiver Greg Jennings said. “I think there was a point probably where his head was spinning. I remember him coming up to me and asking me how I kind of broke the offense down to comprehend everything because it was starting to spin for all of us for a minute, but for quarterbacks specifically because you’ve got protections, you’ve got sight adjustments, you’ve got all these different things that are running through your head while you’re calling the play. And then to actually make that play work, it’s a lot going through your head, especially for a young guy who hasn’t seen another opponent and what they’re going to do.”
During the preseason opener, Bridgewater and starter Matt Cassel each got 10 snaps with the first-team offense Friday night. Cassel’s 10 plays saw him completing 5 of 6 passes for 62 yards and a 109.7 passer rating on his touchdown drive. Bridgewater’s 10 plays with the first-team offense saw him completing 1 of 3 passes for 13 yards to Cordarrelle Patterson.
Neither quarterback had the luxury of Adrian Peterson being in the game and changing the way defenses would approach the Vikings in the regular season. Cassel’s drive was spent with Matt Asiata as the running back and Bridgewater had McKinnon taking carries. Bridgewater also completed his first pass of the night for 21 yards to Jennings, but that was called back for an illegal formation. But after Bridgewater missed on his next two passes, the play-calling seemed to change for the rest of his series with the first-team offense, with more of an emphasis on the running game. Bridgewater’s only series with the first-team offensive line also featured a second-down sack that caused him to fumble, a loose ball that was recovered by Matt Kalil and allowed the Vikings to kick a field goal one play later.
Eventually, Bridgewater completed his preseason debut in the third quarter having completed 6 of 13 passes for 49 yards, a 56.2 passer rating, and taking two sacks.
“The things I look at, Teddy showed all of the things that you need to be a quarterback in this league. When he did things right, he was quick with the ball, he made good decisions for the most part, he got the ball out quick,” Turner said. “He is very elusive. It shows off his athleticism. He is going to have great escapeability. It’s hard for guys to rush you when that is the case.”
Turner said Bridgewater’s best throw was the first one that was called back by penalty after he rolled out of the pocket and connected with Jennings. But Turner said while rolling out of the pocket can help simplify things for a quarterback, it also makes it easier for the defense to see where the quarterback is going with the ball.
“You can’t live on those things. Those are things that are like change-ups that you mix in and he is going to be really good at,” he said.
“He got pretty good pressure a couple of times. He probably could have got the ball out and he will be able to get the ball out as we continue doing it. Whether he gets it out and throws it away, or there was a couple times he could have gotten the ball out and completed a pass or got thrown when he bailed, but I think that comes from playing.”
MONDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.