Why the Vikings should sit Teddy Bridgewater for a year

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Just over a week ago, the Minnesota Vikings moved back into the first round of the draft to select quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If everything goes as planned, he will become their franchise quarterback for years to come.

The hype since the Vikings selected Bridgewater has run the gamut. From people roaring that general manager Rick Spielman should have drafted Johnny Manziel to delight and the belief that this was the greatest pick ever.

The debate has already begun on whether he should start right away or sit and learn from Matt Cassel. Personally, I love this pick as much as anyone, but I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves just yet. I may be in the minority, but I do not think that Bridgewater should take over the starting quarterback job this season. In order for both Bridgewater and the Vikings to be successful in the future, he needs to sit.

First off, I am a believer in the old school model of holding a clipboard for a while, a la Aaron Rodgers. The jump from college to the NFL is huge and when you a draft a quarterback, it needs to be approached as a long term investment.

The goal is to develop a guy who can be the best player possible for the next 10 years or more. Despite what we have seen in the past few years from players like Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck, throwing a quarterback to the wolves can be a dangerous proposition.

This is the case both in terms of long term health and future development. We saw what can happen first hand with Christian Ponder. He never recovered from the hits and mental mistakes he made early on in his career. I’m not a fan of Ponder, but you never know what could have happened if the Vikings took a different approach with him.

The team can’t afford to have another miss at quarterback or they’ll end up in a perpetual state of rebuilding. Bridgewater needs to be given the best opportunity to succeed and in my opinion that means learning for a year behind Matt Cassel.

Along those lines, quarterbacks are rarely ready physically or mentally when they reach the league. Some scouts thought Bridgewater was too small. So why not take some time to have him work with the trainers to make him more NFL ready?

On the mental side of things, there is something about learning the playbook before actually implementing it in game situations that can be very helpful. A year of learning from offensive coordinator Norv Turner will ensure Bridgewater is ready when his number is called.

The final reason why I would have Bridgewater sit a years is because the NFL is a league of parity. It doesn’t take much to get into playoff contention. Look at what Kansas City did last season. We can’t forget that the Vikings were a playoff team two years ago and they still have one of the league’s biggest game changers in running back Adrian Peterson.

That means trying to win now is still important. It’s debatable, but at this point, Cassel gives the Vikings the best chance to win right now. A veteran presence is important, especially with a new coaching staff. So if the competition is close in training camp, the edge should be given to Cassel due to the fact he has been there before.

Sitting Bridgewater may be difficult considering he was a first round pick, but this time around they need to be more cautious than they were with Ponder. Neither Spielman nor head coach Mike Zimmer can afford for Bridgewater not to work out. The only way I can see starting him right away is due to injury or if he is head and shoulders better than Cassel (which I don’t see happening).

Sorry folks, but for now I think we need to be patient until we can give Bridgewater the best chance possible to be the Vikings quarterback of the future.

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  • Bill Ritchie

    If you had a Brett Favre for Teddy to learn from I might agree with you. But you don’t. You have a mediocre at best QB in Cassel and a waste product in Ponder. Your best bet to win now while you still have Peterson to help is Teddy.

    • Justin

      I like how a guy who went 11-4 (I think) in his first year as a starter then took another team to an AFC champions ship game is a ‘mediocre’ QB. I agree Cassel is certainly no Brady, Manning Brees, or Rodgers, but there is a medium between the top level QBs in the league and the bottom of the barrel. Cassel is a capable veteran player, which is why he was sought after in the offseason and such a high priority for the vikings. Besides the point of the article is that the latest 1st round prospect is viewed as a long term investment “winning” now, while important is not the sole point of emphasis. And as much as I love AP, if you have a well a established QB there is not so much of a need to rely on his talent. You can ease his burden and allow him to continue to flourish into his 30’s and still be effective. Our offense was not a huge problem last season, and if you assume Cassel is better than Ponder (which we all do) then it is not too much of a stretch to think the offense should be a bit better. So there is no pressing need to do any of what you are suggesting.

  • Clayton

    Those are valid points. However the comparisons with Christian Ponder don’t fit this situation for a few reasons. Ponder was selected in panic due to a rush on QBs because of the NFL lockout that year, not allowing teams to address FA needs. There was little research/scouting done outside of game film due the lockout as well. The problem was made worse with a rushed training camp that Ponder had little participation in and then thrown into the starting lineup when McNabb was benched and later cut.
    With Bridgewater, the Vikings had proper time and opportunity to watch and scout him. He’s already impressed during rookie mini-camps so far. I’m not saying hand him the job, but I don’t agree with just making him sit for a year either. Rookie QBs over the last 3 season have shown they can produce immediately. The best thing for the Vikings to do is to let him compete for the starting job and see where he is. If he shows he level with or better than Cassel is now, then they should start him because at that point, he gives the Vikings their best chance to compete.

  • Tom Bratulich

    I totally agree. I would have also grabbed Mettenberger in 5th rd & sat him too. Keep 4 QB’s this yr: Cassel #1, Ponder #2 . Lose Ponder nxt yr, now you have the choice of draftees, whichever performed better. You now have your choice of 2 talented college QB’s, increased your odds of getting the driver of your bus for nxt 10-15 yrs. And if you wind up with 2 (TWO) winning QB’s…icing on the cake. I’m pretty sure there will always be teams in the NFL who are looking to trade for a franchise QB, at minimum, mid rd & up! And what would that have cost the team to do that, being that QB is arguably the most important position on the team.

  • Jim

    Yes yes I agree 100% old-school letting him sit for a year or longer then starting him at quarterback once he’s learned everything.

  • Anonymous

    100% agree. First and foremost, Teddy needs to work with the PTs on adding some bulk and arm strength. Playing outside in MN for two years won’t be a picnic and you need a strong arm to play at Soldier and Lambeau late in the season. I can see him starting later in the season, though… Once Cassel starts slipping, you know those Bridgewater chants are coming.

  • John Pedersen

    Thanks for the comments everyone! Some very good points. I won’t argue that some quarterbacks can start right away and be successful but it’s not ideal. In a perfect world, Bridgewater is amazing and he starts from day one but that just isn’t likely. At least this time around, we have Cassel who is at least competent. The same couldn’t be said for McNabb when Ponder was a rookie. McNabb, like Farve before him had no interest in being a mentor to someone. It sounds like Cassel is open to it. The bottom line is…if Cassel plays well, he will keep the job this year, if he doesn’t it means the season is lost and we will at least get to see Teddy in action. As far as not wasting Peterson, wouldn’t you doing just that if you put in a qb that isn’t ready over one that is adequate. Plus I don’t buy into all the hype of his decline just yet. He has defied odds and logic every step of the way. He has done nothing to make me think he can’t keep this up for another four years.

  • Matt

    Start the best guy. If Teddy wins the starting job, he gets it, end of story. Every situation is different and comparing Teddy and Matt’s situation to Rodgers and Favre is shortsighted and foolish. Cassel is hardly an all time great still playing at a high level a la Favre, and Teddy is coming out of college with polish in a pro-style system. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t drafted to “sit and learn,” it’s just the way it works out when you’re established starter is the ultimate ironman.
    Teddy was drafted to be the starting QB. If he wins the job, it’s his. Otherwise, he sits until he does.

  • Skip

    I think you are all forgetting that this is a completely new Defensive/Offensive coaching staff. A quarterback with some NFL experience is going to have the leg up but they all are starting from the beginning. I definitely would sit Bridgewater for now. But if he get’s the playbook quicker, he should start and learn on the side from Cassel. He did say he was willing to mentor.

  • jeremy

    I hope bridgewater can be better in turner’s offense than brees was. Minnesota’s weapons are better, but is h20 as good as brees? I think the answer is pretty obviously no. Brees passed the eye test in college, so did wilson, so did brady and so does Mettenberger. I didn’t see a pro quality qb when i watched h20. His game lacked polish, passes lacked zip and he lacked the savvy that i saw in the games of the others i mentioned. That said, the vikings were 10-6 with ponder once. If h20 can play better than ponder did(and he will) the vikings could win plenty of games. The big game, i don’t know? This is all contingent on AP still being superman as well.