Last night at Minneapolis, Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium (temporary home of the Minnesota Vikings for 2014-2015), the Minnesota Vikings got their 2014 preseason underway against the AFC West’s Oakland Raiders.
Heading into the game, I was expecting to see rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to show off his impressive skill-set in his professional debut, and potentially take the lead in the ongoing three-way quarterback battle between him, Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel in Vikings camp.
Instead, we saw the Louisville product make a very shaky debut, and perhaps even lose a step or two in the battle. Going just 6-of-13 for 49 yards in Minnesota’s 10-6 victory, Bridgewater’s passing was very erratic, as he missed multiple open targets, was sacked twice and even fumbled the ball in the red zone––though his offensive tackle Matt Kalil managed to recover it.
His first pass attempt went for 21 yards to veteran wideout Greg Jennings along the sideline. Although it got called back for illegal formation, it was still an impressive, NFL-level throw from the mobile signal caller. Past that, Bridgewater’s accuracy wasn’t up to par and he overthrew and under-threw receivers for his seven incompletions.
Personally, I think this just looked like nerves from the 21-year old quarterback. Given that he left school a year early, Bridgewater is one of the youngest quarterbacks in the NFL, so I think preseason jitters means little to nothing in terms of how he’ll fare once the regular season comes around. But that doesn’t mean his struggles last night won’t be used against him by the Vikings’ coaching staff when it comes to making a decision on Week 1’s starting QB.
Lets face it, veteran Matt Cassel out-performed Bridgewater by a long shot last night, going 5-for-6 for 62 yards and appearing poised and confident in the pocket during his lone drive––a 10-play, 70-yard drive that was capped with a one-yard TD run from RB Matt Asiata. The 32-year old, in my opinion, currently leads the QB battle in Vikings camp. But it’ll be interesting to see how the young Bridgewater responds in practice this coming week.
With just one of four preseason games in the books for the Vikings, this battle is long from over. In fact, it could just be getting started. So, will it be Ponder (probably not), Cassel, or Bridgewater in September?
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images North America