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Teddy Bridgewater: Quicker release would help protection

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater continued to heap a large portion of the blame on himself for the Detroit Lions' eight sacks on Sunday, saying Wednesday he thought he could have gotten the ball out quicker on "the majority of them."

"Sometimes, the defense is just going to cover a play pretty well," he said. "But there were multiple times on Sunday where I found myself holding onto the ball, where a guy was running wide open down the field or running across the field wide open."

That's nice of Bridgewater to say, but as we discussed yesterday, he was already among the league's quickest QBs to deliver the ball Sunday. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bridgewater's average time before throwing was just 2.49 seconds, which was the ninth-fastest among the 30 quarterbacks who played in Week 6. His average time in the pocket was only 2.29 seconds, also ninth-fastest in the league.

Looking back at the film, there might have been a couple of plays where Bridgewater could have avoided a sack by releasing the ball sooner. There's a case to be made he could have hit Greg Jennings (matched up on linebacker DeAndre Levy on a crossing route) on his second sack, when he appeared to be focused on his outside receivers. He also appeared to be looking at Cordarrelle Patterson in single coverage on his fourth sack, though pressure from Bridgewater's right arrived in about 2.5 seconds, just as he was about to start his throwing motion. But Bridgewater took four of his eight sacks on third downs, when the Vikings repeatedly needed more than a few yards to pick up a first and the Lions were able to pressure aggressively.

We've seen plenty of instances where young quarterbacks throw an ill-advised pass in the name of avoiding a sack, only to admit in a press conference later that he should have picked the lesser of two evils and taken the sack.

"It's usually whenever you take that fifth step, the ball should be gone," Bridgewater said. "You should be allowed to take at least one hitch to throw to a wide receiver. If you're on your second hitch, or you're moving up in the pocket, it usually means you're getting the ball out of your hands to a checkdown. I can count numerous times where I was taking more than two hitch, or more than one hitch, holding onto the ball. ... We have plays designed to get the ball out of your hands quick."

One thing that's worth asking is if the Vikings will have to adjust their playcalling to help Bridgewater get the ball out faster. It's hard to find receivers on quick throws when they're running routes that take 12-15 yards to develop, and if the Vikings are struggling to protect Bridgewater against another aggressive pass rush Sunday, they might need to think about giving him more quick-developing routes where he can hit receivers on a three-step drop. But I'm not sure Bridgewater resolving to make quicker throws will solve the pass protection problem and give the Vikings a more effective offense, without some other parts of the machine firing more smoothly.

"I told the team this today: When you get sacks, it's not just the offensive line," coach Mike Zimmer said. "It's the receivers not getting open, or missing the sight [adjustment], or missing the hot adjustment, or the running back missing the blitz, or the offensive linemen not blocking their guys, or the quarterback holding the ball too long, throwing it to the wrong place, or getting the protection redirected the right way. It's a team issue -- I know everybody focuses on the one part -- but it's a team issue, and we've got to get it fixed."