Mike Zimmer dismisses Teddy Bridgewater criticism

The Minnesota Vikings won the NFC North in 2015. Will that year be viewed as a stepping-stone season that ultimately ends in a Super Bowl appearance or an aberration buttressed by disappointment?

Your answer to that question likely depends on your Teddy Bridgewater take. For many, the Vikings starting quarterback is a low-ceiling game manager without the tools to vault into the top 10 among NFL signal-callers. The theory follows that if Bridgewater never leaps into the upper echelon, neither will Minnesota.

In a Q&A with USA Today's Tom Pelissero, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer doused that hot take with some cooling water.

"The thing about Teddy, and everybody talks about this and talks about that -- he knows how to win, and what else is there with the quarterback?" Zimmer said. "I'm not going to mention names, but there's a bunch of quarterbacks throwing for 300 yards and their team doesn't win. They make mistakes. They don't play right in the critical situations of the game. And (people) say, 'Oh, his arm strength.' His arm strength is fine. He's been throwing the ball 55 yards down in practice all the time.

"Ask what kind of arm Joe Montana had or any of these other guys. It's just so fantasy football now. Our team is built a certain way, and that's how we're going to play. That's just how we are and who we're going to be, and I'm not going to apologize for it."

The Vikings will remain a run-first team, as long as Adrian Peterson's wheels still work. Yet with an improved passing corps thanks to the addition of rookie Laquon Treadwell, the Vikings' air attack is ready to perk up.

Zimmer believes that in his third season, Bridgewater's metal acumen will begin to outweigh any physical deficits.

"Two days ago, I sat up there and watched all of his interceptions. That reel's short as heck," Zimmer said. "And a lot of them were earlier in the year when he made some mistakes. But once we started getting going -- until that one bad one against Green Bay -- most of them, guys are going to make some plays. He threw one yesterday or the day before and (Lance) Kendricks made a great play on it -- diving, laying out.

"Teddy's my guy, and I'm glad he's my guy. If he's wrong, I'm going to tell him he's wrong. But this kid is the makeup, the mentality, the confidence that he has just continues to grow. There was a play yesterday in practice, and this is kind of the evolution of Teddy in my opinion: He was standing back and the quarterback, I think (Joel) Stave was throwing it, so he drops back and throws the ball and (Bridgewater) says, 'I would've thrown that ball over there, because I would've looked off the free safety and I know that that corner can't run.' "

(Sidebar: Can anyone confirm or deny whether that was a subtle shot at Vikes 75-year-old corner Terence Newman?)

The Vikings won't put the entire offense on Bridgewater's back anytime soon, but clearly Zimmer believes there's more upside to his quarterback than meets the eye -- regardless of what round he's drafted in your fantasy football league.

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