Mike Zimmer is pushing Teddy Bridgewater to be more aggressive
The Vikings QB was one of the NFL's most conservative passers last season
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater tends to be pretty conservative with the football. That's clear watching him on tape, and it's especially clear when looking at his numbers. Only 27 percent of Bridgewater's passes last season were thrown at least 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. That was tied with Joe Flacco for the lowest rate in football.
The average depth of a Bridgewater pass was just 7.5 yards, a figure which ranked 32nd among 36 quarterbacks that took at least one-quarter of their team's snaps in 2015, per Pro Football Focus. He also led the same group of players in the percentage of passes that were thrown away, spiked, or batted down at the line of scrimmage. Bridgewater's percentage was 12.3; the next closest player (Andrew Luck) was at 9.8 percent. That 2.5 percent difference was the same as that between Luck and the 16th-ranked player on the list, Eli Manning.
The conservativism helped Bridgewater's passing efficiency (he finished the season ninth among regular quarterbacks in completion percentage and 12th in interception percentage) but didn't necessarily do much to push the Minnesota offense beyond its capabilities. The Vikings ranked 16th in Football Outsiders' overall offensive DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, which adjusts performance for down, distance, and opponent) and 19th in passing DVOA.
Now, head coach Mike Zimmer wants Bridgewater to be more aggressive and take a few more chances with the ball. Here's a quote from Zimmer, from a Q&A session with USA Today.
Q: Can you live with that, if he makes more mistakes but also makes more plays?
A: Well, I think every situation is different. Certain games, we want to be a little more conservative. But no, I'm actually pushing him to (be aggressive). I want him to be able to have that mentality. We want to be able to practice, 'Hey, this is the day we're going to be aggressive.' The thing about Teddy, and everybody talks about this and talks about that - he knows how to win, and what else is there with the quarterback? I'm not going to mention names, but there's a bunch of quarterbacks throwing for 300 yards and their team doesn't win. They make mistakes. They don't play right in the critical situations of the game. And (people) say, 'Oh, his arm strength.' His arm strength is fine. He's been throwing the ball 55 yards down in practice all the time. Ask what kind of arm Joe Montana had or any of these other guys. It's just so fantasy football now. Our team is built a certain way, and that's how we're going to play. That's just how we are and who we're going to be, and I'm not going to apologize for it.
There's some equivocation in there and a weird digression about fantasy football, but it's good to see that Zimmer wants his QB to expand his horizons. The Vikes will still base their offense around Adrian Peterson, but in order to take advantage of the attention AP draws, Teddy has to use all parts of the field and take some chances to generate big plays. He has a lot of talent, even if he's not the best deep-ball thrower there ever was. He just has to put it to use.
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