NFL Off-Season: Top QB Competitions

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Jun 17, 2014; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) and quarterback Christian Ponder (7) and quarterback Matt Cassel (16) stretch at practice at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings
Christian Ponder vs. Matt Cassel vs. Teddy Bridgewater

What Has Been Said:
Head Coach Zimmer
“We are working with the three different guys. Obviously it’s hard to get three ready. I want to give everyone an opportunity and make sure it’s a legitimate opportunity for all of them. The thing I want to guard against most, is rushing into a decision where we make a decision quickly as opposed to making the correct decision. So our focus now is making the correct decision not so much for the fans or the media or anybody else on this football team. To me we’re still competing, everyone’s still competing for jobs.”

“I thought Teddy did well. He did a nice job in the two minute situation. He had a nice long ball there. Took them down, scored. He’s doing well. He’s a worker, he wants to be really, really good. He’s going to be a good football player for us. I like how hard he’s been studying, working. Watching the quarterbacks that we have, they have improved a lot in the short time since we had the first mini camp.”

Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
“[Teddy] knows how to work. He’s very instinctive. He’s a very natural player. I knew he’d be very accurate, I knew he’d make great, quick decisions, but he’s been outstanding throwing the ball deep, which some people thought was going to be an issue. I think he can make all of the throws he needs to make.

“You’ve got to take advantage of every snap you get. I think that we’ve all made a lot of progress. Teddy came in as a great quarterback obviously. I think that he was well coached in college. He does a great job picking up the system. He’s aware of defense and really knowledgeable of it. So I think he’s done a great job up to this point.”

“I’m able to learn from Matt and Christian. I watched the little details of those guys’ passing game where there’s footwork when they’re throwing the deep ball. I watch Matt and I watch Christian and see how those guys have had success throwing the deep ball. Try to apply the things they’re doing to my game also. I’m gaining that confidence every day. I’m feeling very comfortable right now knowing that I have a lot of room for improvement. I feel like competition makes the team better. Now if all the guys at the quarterback position are competing then it’s going to make the entire position much better. I feel that we have the best interests for the team. We’re all in for the team and nothing else matters. Whenever I’m not in, I’m trying to take mental reps and visual reps when either Matt or Christian are going. I think in the play action game, Matt is one of the best in the game. I have a great group of guys in front of me with Matt and Christian. Like I’ve said, those guys have had success in the National Football League. I think the biggest thing is knowing who my weapons are and what I have on the field. Knowing the play in and out and knowing where to go with the football.”

Quarterback Name/Playing Style
NFL Experience
Career Passing Yards Per Game
Career Touchdown-Interception Ratio
Career Completion Percentage
Average Passer Rating
College Stats
Christian Ponder (Dual-Threat)Three NFL Seasons183.1 in 2013, 178.8 career 38-3460.2%77.32,255 yards, 62.0% completion, and 16 touchdowns per season at Florida State University.
Matt Cassel (Primarily Passing)Nine NFL Seasons200.8 in 2013, 206.26 from 2008-201393-6659.0%80.548 career yards, 60.6% completion and zero touchdowns per season at University of Southern California.
Teddy Bridgewater (Primarily Passing)Zero NFL Seasons251.71 lifetime at University of Louisville72-24 68.0% 154.7251.71 yards per game, 68.0% completion, and 24 touchdowns per season at University of Louisville.

As stated above, the Vikings QB situation last year was most certainly complicated. This year it is complicated as well, however it is complicated for all of the right reasons. Last season the Vikings didn’t have a starting QB because they weren’t prepared to have Ponder get injured. In 2014 the Vikings have a healthy dose of QBs to work with in the off-season. From Matt Cassel (1,807 yards, 11 touchdowns and 60.2% completion) to Ponder (1,648 yards, 7 touchdowns and 63.6% completion) to new rookie Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings will have no problem in having a QB for 2014. The only true problem for the Vikings will be in choosing who that QB will be. Teddy Bridgewater could potentially be the starting QB next season.

In 2013, Bridgewater was able to throw for 3,970 yards, 31 touchdowns and a 71.0% completion rating all while only throwing four interceptions all season. While ranking 10th in the NCAA for total passing yards (3,970), 10th in yards per attempt (9.3 yards per attempt ), Bridgewater ranked 2nd in total completion percentage (71.0%), top-12 in touchdowns (31 touchdowns) and ninth in completions (303 completions). Along with being named to the second team All American Athletic conference, Bridgewater was also a Maxwell award semifinalist. At 6’3″, 208 pounds, Bridgewater doesn’t necessarily have the body of that of a typical NFL QB; however he makes up for it with technique and precision accuracy. According to numerous scouts and Bridgewater’s tape, the former Louisville Cardinal has a great combination of short-range accuracy and athleticism. As far as the individual work outs are concerned, Bridgewater played well. The former Northwestern High graduate was able to jump 30 inches, run a 4.79 40-yard dash and 9’5″ broach jump at the combine. When looking at Bridgewater’s overall skill set and abilities, one defining characteristic is Bridgewater’s short game. Throughout the season at Louisville, TB showed he was able step back in the pocket, wait back for receivers to get open, use his feet when needed and fire an accurate throw. He has pretty good size for an NFL QB, however his weight and muscle definition could be a question mark seeing as that ankle and wrist problems have plagued Bridgewater at the University of Louisville.

However, while Bridgewater may have the youth and accuracy under control, Matt Cassel and Ponder do have the NFL experience to take this team far. Whoever proves to be the better passer in 2014, they are going to have a lot of great receiving talent to choose from. With Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and TE Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings have an underrated receiving corps. As you can tell from Zimmer’s comments, there is not a sure-fire starter as of yet. I believe though the way it has been looking, Bridgewater does have a nice chance at the starting spot, if he does well during pre-season and the rest of the training camp practices. I think that Cassel is edging out Ponder in terms of play, however all three QBs do have the opportunity to make their mark and be the starting QB come week one. I think the way Cassel has been commanding the offense, he is looking like the starter, however Teddy Bridgewater’s progress especially in deep-passing has shown me that this race isn’t so one sided. I think that Bridgewater, out of all the rookies, probably has the best chance to be a starting QB by the end of the season.

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