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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Wetmore: Mike Zimmer, Teddy Bridgewater both know it: QB needs to play better

By Derek Wetmore

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – The last time the Vikings played the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota was trounced on its home turf, 38-7.

The circumstances are different this time around and the stakes are much higher. One thing remains the same: Teddy Bridgewater will need to be better to win.

In the first matchup, Bridgewater completed 17 of his 28 passes (60 percent) for 118 yards, with zero touchdowns and one interception. The only reason the Vikings weren’t shut out is because Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kick for a touchdown.

In the three games after that loss, Bridgewater was much better, and the Vikings averaged nearly 36 points per game between the offense, defense and special teams. In those three games – against the Cardinals, Bears and Giants – Bridgewater completed 70 percent of his passes and passed for six touchdowns without throwing an interception. He picked up 9.06 yards per attempt, a very healthy mark for a quarterback of any age or experience level. He was getting the ball out more quickly, he was fitting it into tight spots, he put pass-catchers in position to pick up yards after the catch, and he even hit receivers downfield. Just for good measure, Bridgewater also ran for a touchdown.

That stretch of strong play stopped Sunday, when the Vikings beat the Packers to win the NFC North despite a poor performance from Bridgewater: 10-of-19 for 99 yards, no touchdowns and a left-handed interception.

[You can read a full analysis of Bridgewater’s day here, complete with film review.]

“Oh man,” Bridgewater said Sunday when asked to evaluate his performance after the biggest team win of his career. “I could have done a ton of things better.”

Head coach Mike Zimmer agreed, declaring Monday that Bridgewater “needs to play better.”

And that’s probably true. Yes, having a full complement of healthy defensive starters should help the Vikings close the gap that exists between their team and the Seahawks. But in a pass-heavy league, Bridgewater won’t have the luxury of simply tagging along for the ride in this one. The way Seattle is rolling, it’s hard to imagine the underdog Vikings beating the Seahawks without a much better performance out of Bridgewater.

“He just wasn’t as sharp [Sunday] night as he’s been these last three weeks,” Zimmer said. “I thought he moved in the pocket too much. He didn’t take some of the easy throws he had. He may be trying to do a little too much, I don’t know… He needs to play better.”

On the first drive of Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field, the Vikings took two deep shots, but Bridgewater missed them both. On one play, Jerick McKinnon was open on the outside, and Bridgewater overthrew him. Bridgewater also misfired on a shot to MyCole Pruitt during that drive, which might have stalled without points if not for a bit of trickery on Adam Thielen’s 41 yards off a fake punt.

Zimmer said that the Vikings have run that same pass play to McKinnon often in practice, and according to Zimmer, Bridgewater “throws it perfectly” and hits his intended target every time. Bridgewater said the throws were there Sunday. Receivers were open enough, he just didn’t hit them.

“Yeah, definitely. Green Bay did a good job with covering some things also, but we had a ton of opportunities out there [Sunday] and we just missed them,” Bridgewater said.

In the first matchup between Seattle and Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium, the Vikings picked up just nine 1st downs. Minnesota was 2-of-10 converting 3rd downs (and 0-of-1 converting 4th downs).

Zimmer said Monday that Bridgewater is good about understanding when he’s screwed up, and the head coach had a lot of colorful language for the second-year quarterback after the confusing decision to try to throw away a ball with his left hand Sunday turned into an untimely interception. (Bridgewater later called it a bone-headed play and said it was one of the dumbest plays in his career.)

This is less of a criticism and more a statement of fact: for the Vikings to exceed expectations and get by the Seahawks to advance in this year’s NFL playoffs, Teddy Bridgewater will have to play better than he did Sunday in Green Bay.

The post Wetmore: Mike Zimmer, Teddy Bridgewater both know it: QB needs to play better appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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