Daily Focus: Teddy Bridgewater was a top-15 QB last season

Why the discussion that Vikings third-year starter can't be a franchise QB looks premature. Plus, can Amari Cooper fix his drops problem?

| 2 months ago
(AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

(AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

Daily Focus: Teddy Bridgewater was a top-15 QB last season


Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.

Teddy Bridgewater was a top-15 quarterback last year: Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spieman has come to the defense of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, after reports that some people don’t believe that Bridgewater has the potential to develop into a franchise quarterback. Taking a dive into his PFF grades shows that he might not be there yet, but with the 13th-best grade among quarterbacks in the NFL last year, he’s on his way to getting there if he continues to improve.

Bridgewater has thrown just 28 touchdowns over his first two seasons in the league, but at the same time has thrown just 21 interceptions in that span. Our adjusted completion percentage takes into account drops, batted passes, spikes and passes where the quarterback is hit as he throws the ball. Bridgewater had the best mark in the NFL last year at 79.3 percent, after finishing third as a rookie at 77.3 percent.

Pressure didn’t overly affect that, either, with Bridgewater having the fifth-best adjusted completion rate on throws under pressure at 70.7 percent. He did grade negatively under pressure, however, with six of his nine interceptions coming here. It was a similar story in 2014, too, so this is obviously an area where he needs to take a step forward if he is to develop into a top-tier quarterback in the coming years.

Bridgewater was solid in the Vikings’ playoff loss against the Seattle Seahawks, with just one pass where he received a negative grade, and he did complete a pass that set the Vikings up on the 18-yard line with 1:26 left in the game. Four short plays later, kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal that would have won the game, and if it wasn’t for that, the narrative at the end of the game would likely have been about Bridgewater driving the Vikings downfield for the game-winner against one of the NFL’s best defenses.

The Vikings have made an effort to improve the playmakers around Bridgewater, and while Stefon Diggs, who was the highest-graded rookie wide receiver in the NFL last year at 82.0, was last year’s top target, hopes will be high that 2016 first-round draft pick Laquon Treadwell can have an immediate impact. Heading into the draft, we thought Treadwell was overvalued as a potential top-5 or top-10 draft pick, but as the draft played out, he made a lot of sense for the Vikings at pick 23.

Treadwell

Treadwell showed the ability to get off press coverage and go up and win the ball downfield, like in the clip above, but he also impressed after the catch. Forcing 17 missed tackles on 82 receptions in his final year at Ole Miss, he’s a more complete receiver after the catch than former Vikings first-round draft pick Cordarrelle Patterson, and the Vikings will hope he can give Bridgewater a solid underneath target who can make people miss with the ball in his hands.

With Diggs’ success as a rookie, the addition of Treadwell, and a solid tight end in Kyle Rudolph, the onus is firmly on Bridgewater to take that next step forward. He hasn’t quite hit the heights that he needs to yet, and second-year signal-callers Derek Carr (Oakland) and Blake Bortles (Jacksonville) took bigger steps forward in their second seasons in the league, but Bridgewater has shown enough that he is now in position to make that happen heading into his third season in the league.

Amari Cooper led the NFL in drops as a rookie: One of the best prospects heading into the 2015 NFL draft, at least in our minds, was Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. Drafted by the Oakland Raiders, Cooper looked like the complete wide receiver, good enough to make plays downfield, and similar to Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown with the ball in his hands. That’s lofty praise, but it’s the level of performance we saw from him at Alabama.

In truth, his rookie season was something of a disappointment, with Cooper leading the NFL with 18 dropped passes from the 90 catchable balls thrown his way in 2015. That gave him a drop rate of 20.24, which wasn’t just bad, it was historically bad. Not since Braylon Edwards dropped 19 of the 74 catchable passes thrown his way for the Cleveland Browns in 2008 had we seen a starting wide receiver drop passes as often as Cooper did.

There were many bright moments from Cooper, however, and he forced 14 missed tackles on 72 receptions, helping him to a 1,070-yard, six-touchdown rookie season. The key for Cooper going forward will be eliminating those mental errors from his play, allowing everyone instead to focus on his incredible footwork and ability to make people miss in space. If he can do that, everyone will be quick to forget his rookie struggles with drops.

How Darnell Dockett graded during his career: After not playing in each of the past two seasons, Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett is calling time on his career. In the eight years of grading we have on Dockett, from 2006 through 2013, he didn’t finish a single season with a positive grade against the run, routinely grading poorly in that regard.

Where he did impress, however, was as a pass-rusher. Grading positively in all but two of those seasons in that regard, he registered 43 sacks, 85 hits and 182 hurries. Perhaps he would have been better-suited to a more one-dimensional role, with limited work against the run, but the NFL has changed significantly since 2006. Back then the role of the sub-package interior pass-rusher wasn’t as frequently used as it is today, and were Dockett in his prime today, he’d likely find his skill set very much in demand.

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Nah

    Teddy Bridgewater is as mediocre as they come

    • crosseyedlemon

      Last year the Broncos proved you can get by with mediocre QB play provided you put the rest of your house in order.

      • Nah

        I know, but PFF tries to make Bridgewater look like a top QB

        • enai D

          Not really- #13 isn’t a “top” QB, its an ever-so-slightly-above-average QB, which is pretty much exactly what Bridgewater is at this point.

    • Brent Schoepf

      Yeah, having the best adjusted completion percentage in the entire league is pretty mediocre :/

      • Nah

        Easy when you throw it 3 yards every time

        • ANonnaMoose

          Which is also not true, given that he ranked 3rd in yards/attempt on passes between 16-20 yards and sixth in completion percentage.

          https://twitter.com/ArifHasanNFL/status/751850892517781505

          Honestly, nobody cares what the boxscore jockeys think about Teddy Bridgewater. You’re just embarrassing yourself here.

          • Nah

            And how many attempts did he actually have in that range?

          • Josh Winters

            Arif to save the day! Unbelievable that even after an article, clear and unbiased, lays out the facts of just how great Bridgewater is in so many areas. We still have tools that say he’s mediocre. It’s funny because I guarantee you guys will be scared when your team has to play the Vikings.

    • ANonnaMoose

      Boxscore scouting at its finest. Try actually watching the guy play.

      • Nah

        I’ve seen the guy play. His inability to throw the ball down field is one of the main reasons the Vikings lost to the Seahawks (despite holding them to 10 points).

        • SpencF

          To many Madden playing reporters in football for me.

          • RJ

            Too and To are very different words

          • SpencF

            Yes you are correct. I made a mistake. Thanks!

      • enai D

        “Boxscore scouting” is exactly what it is- making judgments purely and entirely on the basis of basic boxscore counting stats. Noobery at its finest.

        (I’ll likely steal that phrase btw, its perfect)

    • SeattleSteve

      Agreed… you know a guy is pretty mediocre when he struggles to throw for more than a 100 yards against the PACKERS!

      The Packers defense looking like the Legion of Boom? C’mon! Guy is trash.

      • pzebich

        Keep doubting.

      • Jordan Golde

        How many yards did he put up against the No Fly Zone last year? How about the Cardinals what was his QBR there? If I remember right Two Minute Teddy pulled though in a comeback win against the Bears at their stadium last year, and he is the reason Walsh even had the opportunity to shank the field goal against SEA in the playoffs. Teddy has shown enough flashes of greatness to earn more time to break out.

      • Josh Winters

        Lol, you’re trash and thanks for the joke

    • Tom Clancy

      I am a HUGE Vikings fan, but still believe the biggest mistake they made was trading up for Teddy Bridgewater when they could have stayed put and taken Derek Carr.

      • crosseyedlemon

        Unfortunately GMs don’t have a crystal ball to see how the future will unfold. You can look at past drafts and find a “coulda woulda shoulda” situation for every team in the league.

      • Jordan Golde

        Teddy has only been around two years. He hasn’t shown elite QB status, but he has shown flashes of greatness (2 minute Teddy). He is the first Vikings QB to put up 4 Passing and 1 Rushing TD in a single game since Fran Tarkenton, and last year we won our division with him. Don’t give up on Teddy, he deserves more time.

      • Josh Winters

        Ehh, I’ll take Bridgewater and the division crown every year over Carr.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Coaches aren’t really bothered by a mediocre performance provided the QB plays within his limitations and keeps the ball safe. Andy Reid got Alex Smith to do that last season and it resulted in a playoff berth for the Chiefs.

  • jdg3

    Cooper has an incredible work ethic and will fix his drop issues. Jerry Rice had the same issues as a rookie and he was able to correct them through hard work.

  • pzebich

    Keep doubting Teddy, keep overlooking the Vikings.

  • Rolo Tomassi

    Ayyy fuuuny
    Aron Rogets issa numero 20 las yeer