Teddy Bridgewater: Should we be worried about a sophomore slump?


We see it all the time in the NFL.

It seems as if every year, there are a few rookies that make a big splash in their first season playing in the NFL. Unfortunately, some of those players also endure what is known as a sophomore slump. For those of you who don’t know what a sophomore slump is, just ask Cordarrelle Patterson. He may know a thing or two.

Teddy Bridgewater made a pretty good sized splash as a rookie. The quarterback out of Louisville took over as the starter in Week 4 of last season and showed plenty of promise as the quarterback of the future for the Minnesota Vikings.

Despite a mediocre stat line that included just under 3,000 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions (which I believe is misleading), the most important thing to note about Bridgewater’s rookie season was how much he improved during the season. Pro Football Focus, a website that ranks players and teams based on analyzing every single play, was very high on Bridgewater, especially down the stretch last season.

Here, you can see Bridgewater’s steady, yet rapid improvement from his first few weeks as a starter to the final four games of the season. It would be extremely difficult to find another rookie quarterback in the history of the NFL that has ever shown such quick improvement in a rookie season.

Additionally, Bridgewater actually earned the best PFF grade of any quarterback in the league over the last five weeks of the 2014 season.

For me, the most impressive part of these stats is that Bridgewater did all of this with a relatively weak supporting cast. PFF ranked the Vikings offensive line 21st overall in 2014 (25th in pass protection, 17th in run blocking). Moreover, for a majority of the season, Bridgewater handed the ball off to Matt Asiata, who is anything but a threat in the backfield (except in short-yardage situations, I’ll give him that). Lastly, Bridgewater’s receiving corps was nothing special, either. Greg Jennings? Meh. Cordarrelle Patterson? (Fart noise). Kyle Rudolph? Injured.

I’ll give credit where it’s due, though. Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright both became reliable receivers for Bridgewater last season as he became comfortable. But let’s remember something: Neither of these guys were big-time players in college or in the NFL before last season. Especially Johnson, who began 2014 on the Cleveland Browns practice squad.

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  • The point is that Bridgewater was able to rank first in PFF’s quarterback rankings over the last five weeks last year with a weak offensive line, Matt Asiata at running back, and a pretty mediocre group of receivers.

    In 2015, at least to begin the season, Bridgewater’s supporting cast will be exponentially better than that of 2014. For starters, Adrian Peterson is back. No need for further explanation there. Furthermore, Kyle Rudolph is back and healthy (at least for now), and Bridgewater has voiced his excitement about that. Also, Mike Wallace still has a lot of talent as a receiver and seems to have his head on straight.

    If you ask me, it would be pretty tough to Bridgewater to have a sophomore slump with a supporting cast that is that much better.

    Lastly, there’s one more stat from PFF that I think is the most impressive stat regarding Bridgewater’s rookie season. As I mentioned, the Vikings’ offensive line was pretty weak last season, especially in pass protection, so Bridgewater was under pressure often. Needless to say, that didn’t phase Bridgewater in the slightest.

    For a rookie, this is utterly insane. Matt Kalil was absolutely horrible for most of the season last year, but Bridgewater’s incredible performance while under pressure saved him from being scrutinized even more. With reports of Kalil struggling in training camp this season, this stat from last season does give some reassurance (although I’m still very scared for Bridgewater’s well-being).

    Is a sophomore slump a possibility for Teddy Bridgewater? Of course it is. It’s a possibility for every player entering his second season in the NFL. But when you look at Bridgewater’s improvement during his rookie season and his supporting cast this season compared to last season, it makes that sophomore slump far less likely.

    Additionally, I didn’t even mention that this is Bridgewater’s second season under offensive guru Norv Turner, which would’ve been a good thing to mention I guess.

    Also, this article from the Star Tribune illustrates how Bridgewater worked very hard in the offseason and is becoming a leader in the huddle.

    Oh yeah, and “skinny-knees” Bridgewater bulked up before training camp this year. So, yeah, I guess that’s yet another reason.

    Basically, my point is that there are a ton of reasons pointing to Bridgewater avoiding a sophomore slump. Frankly, there’s more than I have time to write about, so this is what you get (this article turned into raving about the awesomeness of Teddy Bridgewater for 800+ words). Bottom line, I’d be shocked if Teddy Bridgewater suffered from a sophomore slump in 2015, and that should be the case for you as well.

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