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- Teddy Bridgewater is heeding Christian Ponder’s advice.
- Teddy Bridgewater has been sacked 13 times in the past two games.
- Bridgewater aims to perform better in the Vikings’ next games.
Struggling Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is taking the advice of veteran play caller and teammate Christian Ponder.
Bridgewater, who has thrown five picks since his 317-yard passing game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 28, has turned to Ponder for some much-needed counsel. Ponder advised the rookie to keep playing hard even if things aren’t going his way, per The St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson:
“The Vikings have a struggling rookie quarterback. A quarterback who not so long ago dealt with his own struggles as a rookie is lending a helping hand.
“Teddy Bridgewater had an electrifying debut in his first career start, passing for 317 yards in a Sept. 28 victory over Atlanta. But in two starts since then, he has thrown five interceptions in a pair of losses, dropping his season passer rating to 67.4 — dead last among NFL starting quarterbacks.
“Bridgewater’s rating is even worse than Christian Ponder’s 70.1 as a rookie in 2011. And it’s hard to call that year much of a success, because Ponder was 2-8 as a starter.
“Ponder is in his fourth season with the Vikings and is now Bridgewater’s backup. The rookie said Wednesday that Ponder has been offering advice as the Vikings prepare for Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.
“‘He just tells me that everything isn’t going to be perfect,’ Bridgewater said. ‘You’re going to have some throws that get away from you. You’re going to have some throws that get away from you. You’re goig to have some days when you’re off. It’s all about having short-term memory. Forgetting the previous game, forgetting the previous play and move on to the next.’
“Ponder said he tells Bridgewater to ‘keep chugging away’ and ‘keep your head up.’ Ponder said it’s not just rookies who struggle in the NFL playing a very tough position.
“‘Look at Tom Brady,’ Ponder said of New England’s future Hall of Famer. ‘A couple of weeks ago, they were asking if they were going to start (rookie Jimmy) Garoppolo ‘Every (quarterback is) going to go through it,’ and (Bridgewater is) handling it well.’
“Bridgewater, the No. 32 pick in May’s NFL draft, took over when Matt Cassel was lost for the season with a broken foot Sept. 21 at New Orleans. Bridgewater said Cassel also has been providing advice since he’s become the starter.
“After compleing 19 of 30 passes for 317 yards in the 41-28 victory over (the) Atlanta (Falcons), Bridgewater has thrown for barely that many yards the past two games, losses to (the) Detroit (Lions) and Buffalo (Bills). He completed 38 of 63 for 345 yards in the two games while being sacked 13 times.
“‘He acts the same way, no matter if things are going really good or if things aren’t going so well,’ Ponder said. ‘And that’s good to see, especially in a young player, that he doesn’t get too emotional. He’s even-keeled, and that’s a big part of playing this game.'”
ESPN Minnesota Vikings writer Ben Goessling chimes in on how the recent number of sacks has been affecting Bridgewater’s game:
“The Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback has been sacked 15 times in just four games, or on 11 percent of his dropbacks.
“In other words, according to ESPN Stats and Information, Bridgewater is on pace to be the most frequently-sacked quarterback in the league since the Dallas Cowboys’ Chad Hutchinson in 2002. He’s been pressured on 27.9 percent of his dropbacks, and he’s thrown just one touchdown pass against five interceptions so far.
“…It’s true that the list of the most-sacked rookie quarterbacks in history (usually passers playing for bad teams behind leaky offensive lines) including a number of busts: Carr topps the list at 76, followed by Tim Couch at 56, Jake Plummer at 52, Dieter Brock at 51, Tony Banks at 48 and Rick Mirer at 47. But then we come to names like Warren Moon and Jim Kelly (albeit after time in the CFL and USFL, respectively), and Andrew Luck, who was taken down 41 times as a rookie and pressured on 28.8 percent of his dropbacks while playing for a team that threw the ball 627 times. Phil Simms took 39 sacks as a rookie. Russell Wilson was sacked 33 times, Joe Flacco 32 and Ben Roethlisberger 30.
“It’d be one thing to worry if Bridgewater was showing signs of letting the rush affect him, either by taking off early or hurrying throws to avoid sacks. We’ve seen him rush throws on a couple occasions, but not to the point where I’d attribute it to something more deep-seeded than a rookie still figuring out his timing in the NFL. He rebounded from two interceptions on Sunday, making some of his best throws when he stood in the pocket and fired decisively to a receiver, and offensive coordinator Norv Turner sounded pleased on Thursday with how Bridgewater has remained in the face of all the pressure.
“‘He’s got good sense in the pocket. He’s getting better at getting the ball out,’ Turner said. ‘He threw the ball away a couple times Sunday when there was nowhere to throw it, where against Detroit (on) those plays he took sacks. We’re working on getting him a lot quicker, we’re working on design to help get the ball out quick, we’re working on protection so we don’t have to have the conversation about how he handles it.'”