What We Learned from the Vikings Quarterbacks in Preseason Week 1
The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Oakland Raiders 10-6 in the preseason debut, and eyes were focused on the quarterback competition. Once the game finished, the race was a little more lopsided than initially thought.
Let's get something clear first. This was the very first preseason game. The season isn't starting tomorrow, and there is a lot of time left for moves to be made. When looking at the quarterback position though, it's clear after one week that this is Matt Cassel's job to lose.
Cassel had a great showing in his preseason start. Cassel participated in one series for the Vikings leading them on a touchdown scoring drive, the only Vikings touchdown on the night. Cassel was just a half-yard short of having the Vikings touchdown as a passing TD, but Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was called out of bounds before breaking the end zone. Matt Asiata finished the job on the opening series.
With chants of "Teddy, Teddy" ringing over the temporary home for Vikings football at TCF Bank Stadium, fans were ready for the debut of the rookie quarterback. Bridgewater played the majority of the game, and showed Vikings fans that he still needs work.
Granted, there were positives that have been lacking of the past "franchise quarterbacks" that have taken the reigns under center. Bridgewater can complete the check-down pass, showed signs of not forcing the ball (outside of two passes), has a great play-action setup, showed the ability to see multiple wide receivers on the field at once, and understands to live for another play by stepping out of bounds when nothing is available. Overall, his movement is smooth.
The negatives though were also apparent. Bridgewater fumbled in the red zone the first time he was sacked in the contest. On top of that, he was not able to connect with his receivers off the play-action, threw into double coverage, and constantly looked for the check-down once he scrambled. He finished on the night 6-13 for 49 yards, which is rather unimpressive.
Fortunately the negatives that Bridgewater displayed are fixable. He came off looking like he was participating in his first NFL contest, which he was. There is plenty of room to grow, and this is just the beginning for the rookie. One preseason showing isn't going to determine his entire NFL career, but his first appearance certainly didn't pull him in front of Cassel by any means.
While there will be plenty of discussion regarding Cassel and Bridgewater, I feel like there one constant is being overlooked from this past preseason game. Christian Ponder is still terrible. I think that was made apparent as he struggled against the second and third team of Oakland.