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Better Off Ted: An Early Taste Of Zimmerball

Over the last 24 hours, give or take, Minnesota Vikings fans and pundits have collectively wondered why quarterback Teddy Bridgewater actually stayed sidelined during their 18-11 victory in Seattle. A preseason contest that would normally be given the nuanced “meaningless” label received an electric shock of intrigue by Bridgewater’s absence and head coach Mike Zimmer’s unwillingness to definitively satisfy the mass curiosity.

Zimmer’s mysterious approach to the situation clearly annoyed local members of the media, along with some fans. This approach might be old hat in New England, but it is new to Minnesota, and if it is a sign of things to come then I think it is safe to say that Zimmer’s status as a media darling could be in danger.

The theories have run rampant since Shaun Hill took that first snap, and there were some fun ones, but we are still getting trickled-down information that can help provide some clarity on the matter. We’re going to take a look at what is currently known.

IT WAS NOT DISCIPLINARY

If you were anything like me last night then your first concern was that Teddy Bridgewater had gotten himself into a “personal situation,” as the Vikings public relations team would deem it, like we’ve seen happen so many times before. There is obviously no reason to suspect Bridgewater of any wrong doing, there is no history or pattern to worry about, but I’ll be the first to admit that it crossed my mind.

A comment from a source to Vikings Territory perfectly placed my worries in perspective, however.

“Teddy’s girlfriend owns her own bejeweling business,” said the source last night. “He doesn’t have personal situations.”

If that wasn’t enough, Zimmer openly scoffed at the idea of Bridgewater being punished, and didn’t shy away from setting the record straight on that front.

“You think there was a disciplinary issue with Teddy Bridgewater?” Zimmer said last night. “He’s like the nicest kid in the history of life. It was my decision. Do I have the right to do that?”

Okay, so I think it is safe to say… Bridgewater is not in trouble.

It Could Be An Injury

The other natural thing to wonder throughout the game last night is whether or not Bridgewater was injured. That could explain the secrecy, as the NFL is full of injury secret (they make movies about it), and Zimmer has developed a bit of a reputation for toying with misdirection in regards to injured players.

Bridgewater seemingly put that to rest during an in-game televised interview, but it is starting to look like a sore shoulder may have actually played a part in this whole drama.

Ben Goessling of ESPN reports tonight that Bridgewater was held out due to the sore shoulder. The report cites two sources and says the issue wouldn’t have kept him from playing had it been a regular season game.

The insignificant injury angle certainly seems plausible. I’d be a little miffed as to why Coach Zimmer would feel it necessary to set off a storm of media speculation and fan frustration, but there is no denying that he has the right to do exactly that.

Toying And Tinkering Season

The games aren’t real yet, but the process of constructing a roster is a complex one that can have an impact throughout the upcoming season and beyond. That makes August the season of evaluating chemistry dynamics, tinkering with schemes, and putting players in situations where their ability to swim instead of sink can mean all of the difference in the world.

Perhaps, and this purely speculation, Zimmer and company simply wanted to see how their backup quarterbacks performed on short notice… as that is the primary function of a backup quarterback.

Perhaps a new wrinkle in the pass protection was worth evaluating, but too risky for the starting quarterback to endure in the face of a notoriously ferocious Seattle defense.

Maybe that defense was just too dangerous and this was a case of cold feet and a bad gut feeling. It could have been meant as a message to the offensive line as a while and the lack of trust that currently exists.

It could be that Zimmer was using the last minute decision to pull Bridgewater, whether injury played a factor or not, as a teaching moment for the other players on the roster.

Maybe it was even a chance for Bridgewater himself to sit back and learn another thing or two from the veteran Shaun Hill, who certainly didn’t seem to hesitate and hold the ball as long as Bridgewater did in Week One of the preseason (no statistical stopwatch analysis to back that up – I’m just going off of what my untrained eyes suggest as truth). The far less athletic Hill certainly never seemed momentarily torn between passing and scrambling the way Bridgewater has a tendency to look, and that lack of scrambling and sudden changes in direction might have been a welcomed relief to an offensive line that needs an injection of confidence.

These are all just theories, of course, with other wilder ones out there. I cannot pretend to know if any of these are even close to accurate.

The injury aspect is the only one that has any evidence accumulated, and we may never know the whole truth, but it certainly gave the team a chance to play under unique circumstances – which isn’t terrible experience regardless of whether or not it was intentional.

Zimmer, perhaps emboldened by his new contract extension, likely didn’t make any friends with the local media on Thursday.

And Zimmer, perhaps emboldened by his new contract extension, likely doesn’t care.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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24 Comments

  1. I just want to say kudos for the title shout out to one of the most underrated comedies in the last decade. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, go check it out on Netflix. Ridiculous it only lasted 2 years.

  2. I’ve seen speculation elsewhere that Zimmer was testing the ability of his backup to step up with little notice. If that’s the case, does Zimmer want to verify that, even after the fact? The NFL is a competitive league of copycats. If you think you’ve found a way to improve/test your backups the last thing you want to do is confirm that idea to the rest of the league. Add this to the impression I have that Zimmer is a basically honest person and uncomfortable with lying. Zimmer’s crankiness with the reporters could well be his discomfort with lying (he didn’t) while trying not to disclose his methods to the rest of the league. I think most coaches would have no problem spinning some plausible BS and walking away with a clean conscience.

  3. Boy, the media really has their panties in a wad over this thing. A few are comparing him to Childress? Brother. Geez…everyone knows the truth will come out. And this isn’t the 1st time he’s done this sort of thing. Remember when he started Newman at safety in Arizona? He straight up lied when asked. I liked his answer about that one. He said his 1st responsibility was to the Vikings, didn’t want to give the Cardinals any info. Makes perfect sense. The media didn’t like it…”He lied to me.”
    Then this off season when he fired the O-line coach….”Because I didn’t want to”, was his answer as to why they didn’t resign Davidson.
    So, why didn’t Teddy play? Because Zimmer didn’t want him to… his decision.
    Sounds like the same old Zim to me. I appreciate the media’s attempts to write story’s…I like reading them. And finding out injuries and stuff, I do. But if a coach or player doesn’t want to disclose things that might give advantage to the opposition…I’m fine with it. And they should be too. They do it all the time. Adam just did it here…the old “a source”. Why not just tell us who it is? He doesn’t have to tell us who, and I’m okay with that. I understand.
    These guys…Reusse, Powers and others….why are you crying over a guy trying to do his job?

    1. So Adam, it’s NOT a source in the Viking organization. Haha, just a source. Could be anyone.
      Could you give me a clue as to who this source is?

  4. 1500 ESPN has been drilling this topic all day, withJudd Z plainly saying “it’s not a big deal”.. and yet.. it must be a big deal since literally every media/blogging outlet in MN is making it a big deal. Itn reality, it’s just a bunch of media rodents making a mountain out of an ant hill. There were five different threads the media could have ran with, but this low hanging, easy-to-reach fruit has been chosen. Zimmer could hold Teddy out for 20 games, he’s the damn coach and he can make the lineup however he wants. Get over it.

    The icing on the proverbial cake? Using a known twitter troll like Reusse as evidence of public hatred against Zimmer. That guy says anything to get a rise out of people. He spews out hotter takes than Skip Bayless, but gets 1/32 of the attention. Not worth anyone’s time to read his opinions, he’ll say anything for some extra website traffic.

    1. Reusse’s articles are total and complete crap. Zimmer owes you NOTHING Patrick!! He has the right to make decisions for his team without having every decision to the press. To claim that HE demanded a stadium so therefore.. Just plain crap.. Just keep discrediting yourself Patrick. You are just one reason why I dropped my subscription to the PP. And as long as you are writing I am unlikely to change my mind.

    2. The cause of the problem is Zimmer. If he said, “I am resting TB” or “he has a sore shoulder” then it wouldn’t be much of a story. The ridiculous “I benched him because I wanted to” sort of paranoid statement was bound to make the issue bigger than it deserves. What is with that attitude? Zimmer basically disrespected Vikings fans. Fans make him rich, but he can’t be straight with them. Grow up, Zim.

      1. You have no room to demand anything from Zimmer. You don’t pay his salary and you aren’t a part of the management team that runs the Vikings. If Mike Zimmer thought you knew as much about football and the Vikings as you obviously think you do, he would’ve texted you ahead of time for your permission to sit Teddy. Grown-ass people getting worked up ’cause they’re not “in the know”. Get over it. Jesus Christ at the entitlement that runs rampant in this country.

  5. with heinicke out they could’ve wanted to give more time to the back-ups, too. if TB’s shoulder was hurtin, then it makes sense, but zim should’ve just said so unless he is conditioning the press to give him his space on injuries. it was an awkward moment in the press conference, but i don’t think it will bother zimmer at all. if he gets us a title, he can serve ’em crap sandwiches for all i care

    i like that we went to the west coast and played a prime time game and won, even if preseason

  6. I think it had everything to do with Zimmer wanting to put Hill in a real life game situation to see if he still has something left in the tank and Seattle was going to be the best test for him. Short notice, get out there and give it a go just like it would be in the regular season if Teddy gets hurt.

    1. I think this is probably right, and Hill played well enough that any talk of going out and getting another veteran signal caller can and should be put to rest.

  7. That Reusse guy is still around? Unreal. Back in the mid seventies, that no talent hack once hosted a radio show that played at night. I only remember this because one night he ate a mary jane brownie while on air. The idiot Reusse was trying to be hip. He giggled the entire last hour of his show. My brother and I were traveling by car, so we listened just to see if this was for real. I can’t believe a guy with room temperature IQ is still employed over 40 years later.

    1. Also a good point, so I can understand some degree of paranoia among the press and the fans. Also, don’t forget that one of Zimmer’s mentors is Bill Parcells, and while I know Parcells was notorious for playing mind games with his players, I assume he did so with the press, too. Zimmer might want to be careful with this kind of coyness and presumption, though; only consistent winners like a Peterson or Parcells can get away with it for long.

  8. You media types are really reaching for anything aren’t you ?
    Coach Zimmer doesn’t owe you shit !!!!!
    Get over your school girl temper tantrums.

  9. Right on bigdawgdaddy!!!!!! Couldn’t say it better myself! Bunch of self important journalists! Once again making a mountain out of a mole hill…

  10. Furthermore, in addition to, and moreover, Coach Zimmer refused to address the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

    It’s outrageous!

    Zimmer, at long last, have you left no sense of decency?

    1. Perhaps they did not specify African or English swallow? If that was the case then it would not be possible to give the correct answer. I think he did answer when asked “What is your quest?”.

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