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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zimmer, Vikings want Bridgewater the pleaser to know it’s OK to speak his mind

By Derek Wetmore

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – The Vikings are seeing Teddy Bridgewater become more aggressive on the field right in front of their eyes. Throws that he might have perceived to be covered in the past – he’s throwing those balls in the past two ballgames. And if his raw offensive statistics are an accurate indicator, that seems to be working for the second-year quarterback.

Now, if he could only be more aggressive off the field.

Bridgewater’s personality in public settings could best be described as low-key. He’s the quarterback, the polite ambassador for the Minnesota Vikings, the diplomat who will never say a word on camera that could be confused as controversial. In head coach Mike Zimmer’s words, he’s a “pleaser.”

And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. On the surface, having a non-controversial leader is decidedly a good thing, especially on an offense that also includes seven-time Pro Bowler Adrian Peterson.

But at times it might behoove Bridgewater to speak his mind a little more, be a little more vocal with his needs and wants as a quarterback. Heck, even if it stirred up a little internal controversy.

“That’s [one] of the things I talk to him about is making sure that you understand that it’s okay to say, ‘I don’t really like that play’ sometimes or ‘I really like this combination of things,’” Zimmer said.

“He’s done better with it this year, but he’s still not to that point yet.”

The guess here is that it comes with time.

Bridgewater, although he’s on the big stage as an NFL quarterback, is essentially working his first full-time job out of college. Confidence is hard to embody, even when it’s there under the surface.

Bridgewater, who recently turned 23, came into a system last year that had Matt Cassel installed as the starting quarterback, and Bridgewater was to be something of a very well-compensated intern, learning the ropes while the quarterback who had been there before took all the starter’s reps. And oh, by the way, the offense Bridgewater would take over one day in the future also had Peterson, perhaps the best runner ever to wear an NFL uniform.

Well, a few fractured bones in Cassel’s foot, and Bridgewater was thrust into some on-the-job training. Things went relatively well for the Vikings, considering all the adversity (the injuries the league’s stiff-arm of Peterson, the first-year coach and coordinators) even though they finished with a losing record.

Now, though, expectations are different. There have been injuries this year, but Peterson is playing at a Pro Bowl level once again and Zimmer and company have the defense back in the discussion as one of the best in the league when healthy. The team is very likely headed to the playoffs, and all that’s left to be decided is where that first game will take place.

Bridgewater’s also a year older, and so the expectation must be that he’ll start to become more comfortable with in his company.

As an example, it seems from an outside perspective that Bridgewater is more comfortable operating from a shotgun formation than he is from under center, because he doesn’t have to drop back while he’s surveying his receivers on the field. That may or may not be an accurate assessment, but either way, Bridgewater is not the type to directly answer a questionable framed around that observation when he’s speaking with the media. That’s perfectly OK; no need to give away trade secrets in that setting.

But you’d expect he’s at least communicating these things clearly with his coaches – with Zimmer, with offensive coordinator Norv Turner and with quarterbacks coach Scott Turner. If Bridgewater’s more comfortable in the shotgun, for example, or more confident throwing fade routes on the left side of the field versus the right side for some reason, that’s valuable information for the coaches to know.

If the coaches ask him to do something that he’s not comfortable with, they ought to empower him to speak up and at least spark a discussion, even if he’s not the type to overturn the directives given to him.

“Well, we try to rely on Teddy. Sometimes Teddy is not as vocal as he should be because he’s a pleaser and he wants to do whatever [coaches say],” Zimmer said.

Bridgewater’s had two nice games in a row, including what might have been the best of his young career in a win against the Chicago Bears. To take the next step as a passer, a little dissension may not be the worst thing in the world.

“He can do a lot better with it, he can be a lot more vocal. I’ve expressed to him to be more vocal with it,” Zimmer said. “You know how he is, he’s pretty nice.”

The post Zimmer, Vikings want Bridgewater the pleaser to know it’s OK to speak his mind appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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