EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner said this week that although Teddy Bridgewater is the "type of person you want to be around on a daily basis," he encouraged the quarterback to take some time away from football for "a little bit" as the season came to a close.
Turner joined Vikings play-by-play announcer Paul Allen on Allen's radio show on KFAN Monday for a phone interview. Turner called into the show from his desk at Winter Park to discuss Super Bowls of the past and this Sunday's game between Seattle and New England. He also reflected on his and Bridgewater's first season in Minnesota.
Bridgewater is among five finalists for Pepsi Rookie of the Year (click here or visit nfl.com/rookies* *to support the 32nd overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft). Voting continues through Jan. 29, and the winner will be announced Saturday during the Fourth Annual NFL Honors program. Bridgewater set 91 franchise records, including for starts (12), wins (six), completion percentage (64.4) and passer rating (85.2) by a rookie.
Turner said the advice to Bridgewater as he packed up for his hometown of Miami was to relax for a little bit and then shift into an offseason program that involves strength training with the goal of packing on a few pounds.
"We know where he's going to be, what he's going to be doing, in terms of lifting," Turner said. "He's never going to be a real big man, but he's going to be a guy that eventually is 220-225. He played most of the year about 212, so continue to work and get stronger and put on a few more pounds, and he will gradually, but that strength, I don't want people to think I'm talking about getting his arm stronger, no.
"I think durability is a key at the position, and all the things you do to help your body physically help you stay on the field and make you quicker, stronger and more durable, so that part of it," Turner continued. "When he gets back here, we have plenty of time to start working on the things that he can improve. We all saw him get better right in front of our eyes in most of the areas, and then we just, he's been through it, we've been through it with him, let him come in here and have a great offseason and continue to build chemistry with the players we have."
Bridgewater drew credit from coaches and teammates for the way he led the team on the field and his approach since his arrival at Vikings headquarters.
View the top 20 images of Teddy Bridgewater from the 2014 season.
"He's the type of person you want to be around on a daily basis," Turner said. "He's genuine, he cares a great deal about it, he understands how to work, he understands how to prepare. Those things, sometimes it takes you two or three years to get a young guy to understand that, and you waste time while you're doing that. We're not going to be in that position. He's going to continue to improve dramatically once we get him back here."
A season-ending injury in Week 3 to veteran Matt Cassel accelerated Bridgewater's path to the starting spot, and he excelled in his debut as a starter in Week 4 against Atlanta.
"You saw all the things you needed to see in that game, and it was one of those things that just came up perfect," Turner said. "So many plays came up good, and we caught them off guard a little bit. They didn't think we were real good and they weren't ready for some of the things they did. We all know we struggled a little bit as we went through the next month, but that was more our struggles than it was Teddy's."
Bridgewater didn't have the benefit that Adrian Peterson would have provided in the rush attack, worked behind an offensive line that dealt with multiple injuries, including the loss of starters Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt, and worked around the absence of a big pass-catching target in Kyle Rudolph because of multiple injuries to the tight end, but fared better than all other rookies at the position.
The level of play encouraged teammates, as well as the personnel department and coaching staff who are now working to build around the QB.
"There's certain things he can do that you don't coach, and those things are the things that are going to make him really good and the things we can help him with coaching," Turner said. "We're putting tapes together and we're again trying to identify the areas of little things he can do better and the thing I've always said with quarterbacks, if you want to see how good they really can be, then keep getting playmaking players around him and good players around him so you have a chance to use all their skills."