Teddy Bridgewater vs. Bears – 17/20, 231 yards, 5 total TD’s

Teddy Bridgewater does not put up stats like most QB’s leading playoff teams (2nd fewest TD’s of QB’s with 10 or more starts), but he doesn’t have to. Adrian Peterson carries the load for the Vikings most of the time, leading the league in rushing attempts and yards. Bridgewater’s job is to complete passes when he needs to and to not make mistakes, he is 6th in the league with a 66.3% completion percentage and has 8 interceptions, which is 8th lowest in the league. In week 15 against the Chicago Bears, Bridgewater put together his most complete game of the 2015 season completing 85% of passes for 231 yards and 14.55 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A). The Vikings offense needs Bridgewater to make the proper read and easy throws in order to keep the defense honest for their ground game. Bridgewater did a great job of keeping drives alive in week 15 by converting 6 third down conversions. Let’s take a look at the film.

Play 1: 3rd & 10. -18. 10:07 1st.

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel

Coverage: 2-man Under

Bridgewater 1

The Bears are blitzing on this 3rd and long which will force Bridgewater to get the ball out of his hands quickly. The Bears secondary is in man-to-man coverage with two Safety’s over the top. In situations like this, Bridgewater’s job is to locate the mismatch and deliver the pass on target. The Vikings are in a trips formation to the field side, the two outside WR’s run vertical routes to clear out their defenders and take the safety help with them. The TE who is the inside WR in the formation, has a defender guarding him with inside leverage. The TE runs a quick out route, running away from the trailing LB. Bridgewater takes his drop and delivers the ball right as he sets his feet and hits his TE in stride where he is able to pick up 12 yards and the first down.

Play 2: 3rd & 4. -36. 9:03 1st.

Offensive Personnel: 01 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 1

Bridgewater 2

The Bears are in Cover 1, but there is a lapse in coverage which allows this to be an easy third down conversion for the Vikings. With the Bears in man-to-man coverage and a single Safety over the top, the Vikings run a three verticals concept to try to win a 1-on-1 matchup. The Bears have some confusion in their underneath defense which allows the drag route to come free. Bridgewater’s job once again is to find the open man to convert the third and short, and it is an easy throw for Bridgewater for another first down conversion.

Play 3: 1st & 10. 29. 7:33 1st.

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 1

Bridgewater 3

Bridgewater doesn’t break the pocket much but he has the ability to and can be very effective on rollout plays such as this one. The deep routes ran by the twin WR’s take the man-to-man coverage down the field with them. The play action stretch play, takes the defensive line and linebackers to the opposite side of the rollout. Once Bridgewater completes the play fake, he is 1-on-1 with the containing defender. The Vikings send their single WR from the right side, all the way under the formation and into the open space vacated by the twin WR’s. Bridgewater does a nice job of putting enough touch on the ball to get it over top of the closing defender and right into the hands of his drifting target. The play results in a gain of 7.

Play 4: 2nd & 8. 15. 5:44 1st.

Offensive Personnel: 01 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 1

Bridgewater 4

For the first time this game, Bridgewater really shows off his ability on this play. The Bears are again in Cover 1 and the single Safety is in the center of the field. To the left side of the formation, the Vikings outside WR runs a quick screen, drawing his defender up immediately. With one defender left on that side of the formation, the WR runs a fade route and it is his job to beat the defender 1-on-1. Bridgewater makes a great throw here, placing the ball into the back corner of the end zone and dropping it right into the bread basket of his WR for a TD. Bridgewater shows his talent on this play, he doesn’t always have to make throws like this one but it is nice to know that he is capable.

Play 5: 1st & 10. -46. 2:34 2nd.

Offensive Personnel: 12 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 2 Tampa

Bridgewater 5

Another impressive throw from Bridgewater on this play, showing nice arm strength and ball placement. The Bears switch it up a little bit on this play and run a cover 2 Tampa defense or Tampa 2. The ‘Tampa’ refers to the MLB gaining extra depth in his coverage drop to take away the deep middle of the field left open by the departure of the two Safeties and made famous by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Vikings are running a good play to counter the Bears coverage. The slot WR runs a seam route and does a nice job of avoiding the SLB’s jam and continuing on his route. Once he is free of the jam, the WR only has to beat the dropping MLB and with his speed he is able to get behind him. With the route being up the middle of the field, it is a different throw than one to the outside part of the field. Bridgewater throws a beautiful pass right over top of the trailing defender. Although the ball appears to be behind the WR, that is the placement that Bridgewater intended, keeping the ball away from the closing Safety and protecting his WR.

Play 6: 3rd & 7. 17. 0:26 2nd.

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 0

Bridgewater 6

The Bears bring the blitz again on this third down and almost get to Bridgewater on this play. In the secondary, the Bears are in Cover 0 (no Safety) and having a LB covering the underneath. The Vikings run deep combo routes but the Bears are able to cover the WR’s while the blitz closes in on Bridgewater. Bridgewater is forced to check down on this play to the wide open RB in the flats and he does the rest taking it in for a TD. What makes this dump off impressive is Bridgewater hanging in the pocket to make the correct decision when he knows he is going to take a hit on the throw.

Play 7: 3rd & 7. -48. 12:37 3rd.

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 1

Bridgewater 7

Again the pressure gets to Bridgewater on this play and he is able to deliver a nice pass for a completion. The Bears actually play this play fairly well, their man-to-man coverage in the secondary takes away the deep options for the Vikings on this play. The Vikings run a drag route across the formation and the SLB is waiting for the WR to come across the formation. Bridgewater gambles on the throw and shows nice ball placement to get the ball over the diving defender and into the hands of his WR while taking a hit in the pocket. This is a risky throw but it is nice to see Bridgewater take a chance in what is otherwise a very conservative passing game. The ball is completed and results in a first down.

Play 8: 3rd & 6. 33. 10:40 3rd.

Offensive Personnel: 10 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 1

Bridgewater 8

Another drag route from the Vikings which is a very popular and effective strategy against man-to-man coverage. The Bears choose to switch on the drag route this time rather than the defender getting picked off going through traffic. Switching on this play happens to be a mistake, the WR gets up to full speed while the Bears defender has to change direction and get up to speed with the dragging WR. The outside WR to the right side of the formation runs a dig route, taking the CB with him. Bridgewater is able to find the open man once again and once the WR makes the catch he has a wide open field ahead of him and runs in for another TD.

Play 9: 3rd & 9. 12. 8:45 4th.

Offensive Personnel: 11 Personnel

Coverage: Cover 1

Bridgewater 9

Bridgewater shows his ability to run when necessary on this play. The Bears run a blitz to the outside of the formation with a cover 1 look in the secondary. The two inside WR’s run corner routes into the end zone, taking their defenders with them as well as taking the Safety into the end zone as well. The routes leave the middle of the field open, as well as the blitz which creates an opening in the center of the line allows an easy path for Bridgewater to get through the line and outrun the defenders on his way to the endzone. Bridgewater rarely runs unless he has to, but he is fairly effective when he chooses to which is a nice option to have to keep drives alive.

Teddy Bridgewater showed it all in week 15. He showed the ability to make deep throws with touch as well as ball placement, he showed the ability to make the throw under pressure and also showed that he can run when he needs to. What impresses me most about Bridgewater is his ability to make the correct read and decision time after time. He won’t make the flashiest throws or the longest throws but Bridgewater does a great job of completing the passes that he needs to complete and continuing drives time after time. Although he has a smaller frame, Bridgewater shows toughness by taking hits in the pocket and still making accurate throws and completing passes. The ball placement and accuracy on his throws are very impressive time and time again, putting the ball where his WR can catch it and run and also putting the ball where it needs to be to protect his WR. I don’t expect Bridgewater’s numbers to continue to go up each week from here on out but as the playoffs inch closer and the NFC North heats up, Bridgewater will be crucial to the Vikings offense and continuing their powerful running game.

Derek Willems

Derek was born, bred and fed in the Dawg Pound as a Cleveland Browns fan. Currently he is a student assistant with the Kent State Football program, his primary focus being Defensive Backs. He eventually hopes to coach high level football but for now in his spare time he enjoys breaking down film and writing to inform the readers of things he is seeing. For all of Derek's articles: <strong><a href="">Click Here</a>.</strong>