Wetmore: 2-minute drive is nice, but 'Teddy time' will have to wait
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MINNEAPOLIS - The competition should be over.
Judging by the team's two preseason games and the distribution of snaps during training camp, the Vikings have selected their starting quarterback for week one.
Matt Cassel played the entire first half Saturday in the Vikings game against the Arizona Cardinals. He also started the first preseason game, but left after one series and rookie Teddy Bridgewater got to work with the first-team offense. That was not the case Saturday, though.
Bridgewater didn't enter Saturday's game until the third quarter. Given that -- and against the backdrop that the plan is to withhold playing Bridgewater until he's ready -- it would be shocking if Cassel is not the Vikings' week 1 starter. No formal announcement has come, of course. That's a mere formality at this point.
A reporter asked Bridgewater after the game what he thought about a couple teammates suggesting that it's 'Teddy time.'
"It's not. I'm still a young guy here," Bridgewater said. "I still have a lot to prove, I still have a lot to work for. I'm just going to continue to come in each and every day and try to get better."
Cassel completed 12 of his 16 passes and connected with Kyle Rudolph on a crossing pattern for a 51-yard touchdown. He racked up 153 yards (12.75 yards per completion) and ran for 30 yards on three carries. Cassel played the politically correct card after the game.
"Right now, I'm not even looking into the race. I'm just focusing on trying to become a better player each and every week," he said.
"Inside the locker room it's a day-to-day operation. We're grinding through camp and obviously we're all competing out there on a daily basis.
"At the same time, we're all trying to get better at what we're doing at our craft, learning a new offense. I think that there's a lot made of it I'm sure on the outside, but on the inside we're all competing each and every day," Cassel said.
It's not as if the Vikings have tried to cover up their intentions for their week 1 starter. Perhaps the official announcement will come this week that Cassel will be the guy.
Bridgewater didn't get in the game until more than 10 minutes had gone by in the third quarter thanks to a lengthy Cardinals drive to open the second half.
He succeeded when given his chance to run the two-minute offense, after a bizarre Cardinals fumble-turned-touchdown gave Arizona a 28-24 lead late in the game. Bridgewater marched the Vikings down the field on a seven-play, 75-yard drive to score the winning touchdown. While that's sure to be a confidence booster for the rookie, it shouldn't be taken as a sign that he's the guy. Consider the players that were on the field for the Cardinals at that time: second- or third-stringers, some of which might not make the team.
Bridgewater finished 16-for-20, including a late touchdown to Rodney Smith to win the game, and a strike across the middle for a touchdown to Allen Reisner. (Then he found Jarius Wright for the two-point conversion.) Bridgewater also had a couple nice connections with Adam Thielen, and one throw that came after he avoided pressure, rolled out of the pocket and completed a pass on the run.
Bridgewater had said toward the end of training camp that he overthinks certain situations and that he was getting more comfortable doing advanced things, like reading pressures and changing protections at the line of scrimmage. That continued Saturday, he said.
"I've been trying. For me I'm the young guy and a lot has been thrown at me and I tend to overthink things," Bridgewater said. "Coach Zimmer tells me, 'Just do what you do best.' That's play football and have fun. So today I was able to just go out, play relentlessly, not over think plays and just trust everything that Coach Zimmer has been telling me."
It's clear the fans in attendance have high hopes for the first-year quarterback, as chants of "TED-DY, TED-DY" rung out in the second half of the game. The announced attendance was 51,763, but there weren't that many fans in the seats when the chants began.
Those fans more than likely will have to wait.
Bridgewater may well be the future at quarterback, but the future is not here yet.