FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan doesn't view Sunday's matchup with the Minnesota Vikings and rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater any differently than an other game.
True, it will be Bridgewater's first NFL start, and he hasn't seen a lot of different looks from NFL defenses just yet. But Nolan won't approach the game assuming the Falcons will be able to rattle the rookie. Remember, the Falcons lost to rookie quarterbacks Geno Smith of the New York Jets and Mike Glennon of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season.
"Well I'll say this: We never take a rookie lightly," Nolan said. "After all the years I've been in .... last year, Geno Smith, his numbers weren't great, but he did enough to win the game. On the last drive, that's where he made hay. Otherwise, we should have won the game. But, it is about winning, and that last drive obviously cost us the ballgame.
"But there have been other quarterbacks over the years. Every now and then, the young guy will rise up in an occasion like that and do a great job. So, we'll take (Bridgewater) serious. By all means, there will be no relaxing on the fact that he's a rookie."
Bridgewater entered the lineup last week against the New Orleans Saints after starter Matt Cassel suffered a few broken bones in his foot. Bridgewater completed 12 of 20 passes for 150 yards and was sacked twice in a 20-9 loss. He also ran the ball six times for 27 yards with a team-long run of 15 yards.
"He's not a running quarterback, but he's very mobile," Nolan said of Bridgewater. "I think that's a credit to him. He keeps plays alive with his legs. I mean, guys who are mobile around the league ... Aaron Rodgers is very mobile, keeps a lot of plays alive in that offense, which is kind of a key to a West Coast attack.
"There are a lot of mobile guys. Now, do they run their zone read? No, but they're mobile. And they give you fits because of it. And that's what I would say (Bridgewater) is. I think he's a very mobile quarterback. It was very evident last week in the game. He didn't run the read-option in the game. Nonetheless, they had plays designed for him to run. They got down in the red zone, they opened up the middle, he ran. Couple other times, he pulled the ball down and ran. A young player will do that if he's got good legs. Some even try to do it when they don't have good legs."
The Falcons are coming off their best game in terms of generating pressure as they recorded three sacks and seven quarterback hits in a 56-14 win over Tampa Bay. The fact that they jumped out to an early lead allowed Nolan to ramp up the pressure.
Nolan explained the challenge in preparing for Bridgewater.
"The most difficult thing about a rookie is, it's almost like a coordinator: A first-time coordinator is hard to get a bead on because he doesn't have any tendencies; he's new," Nolan said. "A quarterback is no different. You don't have tendencies. They're new.
"In some ways, it can be a problem for you because a lot of times, you play a guy a lot and you know what his tendencies are and you identify them and work on all that. But when a guy is new, who's to say what his tendency is or who's to say much about him at all? So, that actually makes it a little bit more difficult."