The Minnesota Vikings began Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers with the goal of getting Teddy Bridgewater in a rhythm early, and they succeded. Bridgewater hit his first five throws of the day, all on short passes or a screen that Charles Johnson took for 24 yards, and finished the day throwing 15 of his 21 passes less than 10 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
But the Vikings want to build an offense that can stretch the field, and it was on the two downfield throws Bridgewater made that coach Mike Zimmer saw progress. He put a 45-yard throw just beyond Johnson's reach in the third quarter -- on a play where Johnson wanted interference on Panthers cornerback Josh Norman and Zimmer said he "thought we could have went up and got after a little bit better" -- and came back four plays later with a 35-yard strike to Jarius Wright on third-and-3.
On both plays, Bridgewater passed up shorter options to take shots downfield when his read of the Panthers' coverage told him he could do so. That, Zimmer said, was a sign of maturity.
"It's third-and- and he's throwing the ball 40 yards down the field and puts the ball on [the] money," Zimmer said. "He got the right look. There were a couple times he had the right look defensively and went to the right place even though it wasn't the safest throw. Those kinds of things are the things I'm talking about when I see his progression and he's always getting better."
The story went on to say that Bridgewater has talked about his need to play faster on several occasions this year, and as he said on Sunday, that has more to do with making quicker decisions than it does with the speed of his release. When Bridgewater is able to trust what he's seeing before the snap and know where to go with his first read, he's more confident in his ability to find his receivers downfield. It also doesn't help that WR Cordarrelle Patterson didn't see a lot of playing time, which took away that guy who was supposed to be their biggest threat. The Vikings will have a lot of work to do on the offense before 2015, and the hope is Bridgewater starts to show up on the QB2 fantasy radar by then.