Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is completing 60.4 percent of his passes this season, 26th in the NFL. He's been sacked 18 times, though just three times in two wins before the bye week.
Brace Hemmelgarn/Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Teddy Bridgewater wants to play with more feeling.
No, the Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback isn’t ditching his gloves — especially with his first cold-weather NFL game approaching this weekend in Chicago. Bridgewater isn’t trying to tap into his sensitive side, either.
Feeling, in this case for Bridgewater, is more anticipation and trust.
"Feeling it and not seeing it," Bridgewater said Wednesday. "I have a tendency of wanting to see wide receivers open before I throw the football. Sometimes I have to just feel it and trust that guys are going to be in the right area at the right time."
Cohesiveness between Bridgewater, with five NFL starts under his belt, and his receivers is still a work in progress. The chemistry needs time to produce the bond.
Bridgewater is completing 60.4 percent of his passes this season, 26th in the NFL. He’s been sacked 18 times, though just three times in two wins before the bye week. Both numbers point to Bridgewater’s biggest areas of improvement.
During the bye, Bridgewater took a hard look at his first six NFL games. He saw some good trends to build on, but also need for development. Getting the ball out of his hands quicker and having more of a feel for the game were foremost on his improvement list.
"I came away impressed in some areas and I learned that I still have a long way to go," Bridgewater said. "I know that there is a ton of improvement needed to be made. There are a ton of adjustments. But I’m going to continue to just get better, work hard each week, continue to just trust my teammates."
Getting rid of the ball and anticipation go hand-in-hand. Trust leads to the feeling for Bridgewater.
Much of the focus has pointed to missed chances between Bridgewater and Cordarrelle Patterson after Bridgewater overthrew Patterson twice in the last game and only connected on one of seven passes in Patterson’s direction.
Patterson has had more than two catches in a Bridgewater start just once. Vikings’ coach Mike Zimmer agreed that Bridgewater and Patterson haven’t been on the same page.
"It’s nothing between the two, it’s they’re not precise enough," Zimmer said before the bye. "We’d love for (Patterson) to be involved but . . . guys have to make sure that they’re in the right places more."
As he’s done throughout his first season as a starter, Bridgewater took responsibility for the missed connections with his receivers. He denied saying time or cohesiveness was the issue.
"I think it’s more me just trying to be right and trying to be perfect," Bridgewater said. "I want to see the throws to make sure that I’m going to be able to make the perfect throw instead of throwing an out-cutting route to an area and allowing the wide receiver to run up under the throw and make a catch."
Bridgewater can also look back on his first five starts which have included three wins, all in fourth-quarter comeback fashion.
"We like for him to be ahead a little bit more," Zimmer said. "I just think the game is not too big for him. He sits in there and understands what he has to get done. There’s a heightened sense of urgency, not just with Teddy but with everybody. We’d like to play like that a little more often than just in the fourth quarter."
In the three victories, Bridgewater has avoided interceptions and been sacked just three times.
There’s no doubting Bridgewater’s been at his best when he plays instinctual — with feeling — which has come in hurry-up situations and fourth quarters. Bridgewater’s overall 74.9 quarterback rating improves to 83.3 in fourth quarters.
"I think I’m just able to think less, play football, distribute the ball to the playmakers on the outside and those guys make plays," Bridgewater said.