Despite Slow Start, No Need to Worry About Teddy Bridgewater in 2015

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst ISeptember 29, 2015

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws in the first half of an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers in Minneapolis, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Through three weeks, Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings rank dead last in the NFL in passing yards per game. 

Despite the numbers—and the fact Bridgewater has just a single touchdown pass on the young season—there's still no need to start worrying about the second-year quarterback. 

Bridgewater completed 13 of 24 passes with one interception during Minnesota's Week 3 win over the San Diego Chargers. He set a new career low with just 121 passing yards, and his 50.9 passer rating finished as the second-worst mark of his 16-game career. 

The Vikings are now averaging just 147.5 passing yards per game to start the 2015 season. Only three teams currently average less than 200. Bridgewater also has two games without a passing score (the Vikings are the only NFL team with just one passing touchdown), and his 80.1 passer rating ranks 23rd in the NFL. 

Teddy Bridgewater: First 3 Games of 2015 Season
Cmp/AttYardsTD/INTPasser Rating
at SF23/322310/179.0
vs. DET14/181531/0120.6
vs. SD13/241210/150.9
Vikings: 2-1

The numbers paint an ugly picture, with the quarterback directly at the center of the mess. But the detailed explanation of Bridgewater's quiet start is far less morbid. 

The Vikings ran just 55 offensive plays on Sunday against the Chargers. Of the 55, 30 were designed run plays—including 20 to running back Adrian Peterson. Minnesota received a vintage day from No. 28, as Peterson rushed for 126 yards and ripped off two touchdown runs. 

Overall, the Vikings gained 163 yards on the ground. There was simply no need to force the game with Bridgewater, especially after Minnesota went up big early in the second half. Over the final 30 minutes, Bridgewater attempted just eight passes. 

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The second-year quarterback wasn't perfect in the first half, but he was far from terrible. 

Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

His interception was the result of a poor throw under pressure, and there's no excusing turnovers down in the scoring area. But the giveaway never would have happened had tight end Kyle Rudolph caught his chance at a touchdown one play earlier. His bad drop of a catchable attempt set up the turnover.

Bridgewater also made some big throws. 

On Minnesota's first touchdown drive, Bridgewater extended the march with a 19-yard strike to Mike Wallace on 3rd-and-9. He stepped up in the pocket and delivered a perfect throw to the out-breaking Wallace near the sideline. 

Three plays later, Bridgewater felt pressure and got the ball out to Matt Asiata for six yards on 3rd-and-3. The conversions set up Peterson's first score since November of 2013. 

Pressure also played a role. 

Teddy Bridgewater: Pressure Factor in 2015
Under PressureNo Pressure
Passer Rating33.3103.9
Source: Pro Football Focus

According to Pro Football Focus, Bridgewater was under pressure on nine of his 24 dropbacks. He completed just two passes under duress, including the short dump-off to Asiata. 

When not pressured, Bridgewater completed 11 of 15 passes for 94 yards. 

Nearly the same script played out a week earlier against the Detroit Lions

The Vikings ran 61 plays, while Peterson carried 29 times and gained 192 total yards. Minnesota led the entire contest and held leads of 14-0 and 26-10. Bridgewater attempted just 18 passes. 

Again, there was no need to force the passing game. The Vikings rode Peterson, played dominant defense and protected leads late in the contest. 

Over the last two games, Peterson has carried 49 times. Meanwhile, Bridgewater has just 42 passing attempts. The Vikings scored 57 points and won both games comfortably. 

After three weeks, Bridgewater doesn't have the numbers many were expecting from the sophomore quarterback. He's been limited by a rejuvenated Peterson dominating the football and a defense taking much of the pressure off of the Minnesota offense.

Don't always rely on the box score. The stats don't tell the full story on Bridgewater's start to the 2015 season. 

Zach Kruse covers the Vikings for Bleacher Report. 

Follow @zachkruse2