Howls of protest weren’t aimed at Teddy
MINNEAPOLIS -- Yes, they are just a little bit worked up around here. "I'd appreciate it if they didn't yell 'Teddy!' when we are on offense," Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer noted. They can't help it, coach. With each passing week, it looks ...
MINNEAPOLIS - Yes, they are just a little bit worked up around here.
“I’d appreciate it if they didn’t yell ‘Teddy!’ when we are on offense,” Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer noted.
They can’t help it, coach. With each passing week, it looks as if they are going to have an honest to goodness NFL quarterback leading their team. Teddy Bridgewater is showing signs of being the real deal. And someone of his caliber has been a long time coming. Besides, it doesn’t have the same impact if they yell “Teddy” while the Vikings are playing defense.
“I was telling one of the coaches before the game, I love this kid,” Zimmer said.
A lot of people in purple face paint feel the same way.
It was a busy day at TCF Stadium on Sunday as the Minnesota campus suddenly became a hotbed of social unrest.
It was like the 1960s all over again. Power to the people. Stick it to the man!
“The Man,” depending on which cause you were rallying behind, was either Dan “the Stereotyper” Snyder or Zygi “the Bird Killer” Wilf. There was a lot of protesting going with regard to the two NFL owners. The Bird People gather each week, chirping about the new stadium lacking bird-friendly glass. That’s part of the Sunday routine.
Meanwhile, many of the locals got all worked up about the name “Redskins” this week and their large protest gathering clogged arteries leading to the stadium prior to kickoff. No doubt they saw it as karma when the two Washington team buses were involved in a traffic accident on the way to the stadium.
Once the game started, however, the focus inside TCF turned to football and a game that the Vikings certainly were capable of winning. After a first half best described as “soul-crushing,” the Vikings snapped to and performed very well. Bridgewater got off to a slow start in which he overthrew a couple of wide open receivers deep downfield. Then he stepped up his game and everything changed.
He performed especially well after Zimmer took a bite out of his behind late in the second quarter. Bridgewater, who is very mobile, seemed reluctant to run. And on fourth-and-2 from the Washington 39, he threw incomplete rather than take off for what appeared to be an easy first down on foot.
Zimmer was waiting for him on the sideline.
“Once I came over to the sideline, Coach Zimmer was right there in my face telling me to, ‘Just run it! Just run it!’ ” Bridgewater said. “I told myself: ‘What am I doing?’ I know that I have the ability to keep a play alive. I know that if something isn’t open down field I can take advantage of my legs and make a play.
“Right there, I just have to have better judgment. I should have run it. It was only two yards.”
From then on Bridgewater did not hesitate to run when necessary. That opened up the game and threw a jolt into Washington. During a seesaw second half, Bridgewater led the team on three long touchdown drives, making some lovely throws in the process.
“Coach Zimmer told me something before the game today,” Bridgewater said. “He said, ‘Don’t try to be perfect. Just play football.’ ”
Here’s the thing: When Bridgewater first arrived here, he was a bit of a loose cannon. Nothing major, just that he spoke his mind on any given topic. Clearly, the Vikings’ PR staff has worked overtime to make him as bland as instant mashed potatoes. A quick study, Teddy already is very close to being classified a “Stepford Quarterback.”
“I try not to get rattled because I know that I have 10 other guys in the huddle who are depending on me,” he said.
Anyway, bland off the field is better than bland on the field. And Bridgewater has become anything but when he has the football in his hands.
“He’s a great quarterback and we’ve known that for a long time now,” tight end Chase Ford said. “He just needs to get his games in.”
Which is why folks got a little nervous when Washington’s Keenan Robinson bodyslammed him to the turf in the second half. Robinson received a 15-yard penalty for that WWF move. Bridgewater, meanwhile, heard little birdies singing, which will be tougher to do once they start crashing into the sides of the new stadium.
“I just had the wind knocked out of me,” Bridgewater said. “I just needed a second to catch my breath.”
It was an impressive victory that highlighted the development of the franchise quarterback. Oh, and power to the people.
Tom Powers is a sports columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press