Have you ever heard anything so stupid? As last nights pre-season game versus the Kansas City Chiefs was being played, if you just happened to switch to the NFL network, you would have seen commentators discussing Teddy Bridgewater. As they are showing Teddy Bridgewater's first TD of the evening, some pin head states that Teddy is playing well because all the pressure of having to start in the season opener has been deflated as Matt Cassel will be the obvious opening day starter. Then moments afterward, you here them restate the same incredible statement again when Teddy tosses his second TD strike of the evening. Well that just might be true but then how do you explain his substandard pro day ... or his so called first NFL play versus the Raiders ... was that somehow related to Matt Cassel too. The statement is ridiculous.
What is of fact is that Teddy Bridgewater is elated to have Matt Cassel as both his mentor and tormentor. Teddy's elated to be in Minnesota ... the cradle of NFL excellence ... in that it allows it's players to evolve without being chewed up in typical fashion in an over inflated media market. Teddy is elated to have Norv Turner's mastermind at the controls of an offense that actually works (Remember: First down ... hand the ball to Peterson, 2nd down ... hand the ball to Peterson). Teddy's elated knowing that once he's named starter, he's going to have Adrian Peterson ... maybe one of the NFL's greatest running backs ever ... in the backfield with him. Teddy has a bunch to be grateful for but no quarterback that I've ever seen played well in the NFL due in part to anything else but his ability to cope with everything that's being thrown at him at a million miles per hour. What Teddy is doing is playing somewhere up in the stratosphere and that my friend is pushing the coaching staff of this franchise into a trap as any argument for not starting Teddy Bridgewater borders upon insanity.
"Yeah, but he's playing both with and against 2nd and 3rd team players ... Of course he's going to play well." A good knowledgeable statement but of course that statement falls short on so many levels. Look throughout the league and there very few that can play anywhere near these levels. Last week Teddy went 16 for 20 and at least 3 of those passes were drops (hitting hands) and one of them was a long pin point strike into the end-zone. To be direct, you can only discount Teddy's abilities if you play him both with and against first team players and that only happened briefly in his first ever NFL action ... not a fair indicator.
Now consider Matt Cassel's performance both last week and versus the Kansas City Chiefs. To be direct, if Teddy was to run as often at Matt did last week, you'd be screaming for his head. You'd be saying he's too inexperienced where he'd leave the pocket rather than find targets down the field. Matt Cassel on the other hand gets a pass by extending the drives but overall do you think his game was as clean as everyone seems to portend. Last week, after Cassel played the entire first half, we were behind 14-13, and that was having faced the 2nd team defense at the end of the 2nd period. In the first half this week, Matt had only a 45% completion percentage with a strip sack fumble in the end zone for a safety and an interception resulting in a 10-5 lead. Knowing that our defense came up with two (2) red zone interceptions that could have easily resulted in two KC touchdowns ... we could be looking at being behind 10-19 at the half. In short, Matt's performance was no where near stellar and was closer to pedestrian.
What wasn't discussed or even contemplated is Matt Cassel's performance under duress. What duress you might ask? Well he was staring his un-ceremonial collapse in KC right in the face which some could compare to facing the elites in our playoff future. Another comparison might be Teddy Bridgewater's first appearance with the #1's in his first NFL appearance versus Matt Cassel last night. Bridgewater was immediately written off for his performance however Matt was given a pass. To be direct, Matt Cassel's performance doesn't cut it and major flags should be going off throughout the Viking Nation if we have any hope of traversing the landmines known as the playoffs under Matt Cassel. Hey ... we love the guy ... but it is what it is. Just because we are winning in the pre-season doesn't mean that we can view Matt Cassel actual performances through the proverbial rose colored glasses.
You know that the jig is up when you have commentators throughout the nation starting to make excuses trying to explain why Matt Cassel should be the starter. Having endured the incredible excuse machine under the Ponder regime we should all be well versed in recognizing WORDS for what they are.
Now let us all touch upon the obvious. Look at the people that Teddy is working with ... Thielen & Reisner ... to name just a few. The players around Teddy ... each and every one of them are playing inspired ball. Maybe the backups are not capable of maintaining a clean pocket but inspiration helps to achieve just enough to be successful. High level inspiration just doesn't happen in the NFL. It happens when someone's hind quarters becomes so massive that the field tilts in their favor (Favre). Ask yourself, who's play is inspired ... Matt Asiata or is it the play of Dominique Williams. Allow me to answer that question. Teddy Bridgewater just made Mr. Williams a very wealthy NFL player regardless of whether he makes this Viking roster or not. Tell me again ... how many people did Steve Mariucci and Jon Gruden say that Brett Favre made very wealthy? See the connection.
The defense is playing inspired ball. Is it the new defensive coordinator? Could it be the inspired attacking defensive philosophy of Mike Zimmer? Sure that's part of it but unless there's a very positive light at the end of that tunnel, then why bother ... coast. Did that light show up last year? Sure ... in bits and pieces when the momentum changed in our favor ... but we lost a key opportunities to make the playoffs last year because we lacked inspiration when we needed it most. It is either there or it's not.
Did Sherels just get beat again? Last week he was running with the #1's posting 9 tackles for the game. Due to the lack of depth, Sherels might be the last rostered DB that should makes this ... primarily to mentor the others, but when he steps on the field as a corner ... we are in trouble.
The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: August 24, 2014