Thursday, October 9, 2014

6 comments Mike Mayock Thinks Norv Turner Makes Teddy Bridgewater Successful, Ignores Norv Turner's Evaluation of Bridgewater When It's Convenient to Do So

Sean Jensen writing for Bleacher Report, though he doesn't write for them as a full-time gig, has an article about how Teddy Bridgewater is ready to play well for the Vikings after sliding on draft day. Jensen of course has quotes from Mike Mayock in the column on Bridgewater. Mike Mayock, if you don't recall, is the draft expert who had Bridgewater as his #1 quarterback prior to Bridgewater's Pro Day. Then Mayock thought Bridgewater had a bad Pro Day and ignored absolutely every piece of game film he had seen on Bridgewater and all of his prior opinions on that game film to bump Bridgewater down to tied for 5th in his quarterback rankings.

Mayock's February rankings. 

Mayock's late March rankings. 

Mayock's May rankings.

So Bridgewater fell pretty hard in Mayock's opinion, which has happened to other draft prospects, but not always for the reason Mayock knocked Bridgewater down. He gave no other reason other than Bridgewater had a bad Pro Day. That's it. Maybe it makes sense to some people, but not to me. It's like loving an NBA prospect, but because he couldn't dribble around chairs and wasn't shooting the ball well in a private workout you would ignore everything you have ever seen on tape of his play and drop him down the board. I don't think it makes sense. Would an MLB scout ignore a prospect whose play he loves because that prospect doesn't hit well in batting practice on a certain day? It just seems like the height of idiocy to ignore all this volume of information Mayock had in favor of one day where Bridgewater looked bad in a completely scripted workout.

So anyway, Mayock still isn't giving Bridgewater credit and thinks Norv Turner is who makes him look good. That's partly true for every rookie QB, but give the quarterback a little credit. Andrew Luck looked good as a rookie partly because he had good coaching, Cam Newton looked good because the offensive coordinator played to his strengths during his rookie year, it's just that good coaching is essential to a quarterback's development. Still, the rookie QB has to get a little credit and Mayock doesn't seem to want to give Bridgewater any.

In March, before the University of Louisville’s pro day, NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock rated Teddy Bridgewater his top quarterback of the 2014 class.

Then Bridgewater had a bad Pro Day and Mayock was all, "Fuck this, he looked terrible on this one certain day. I will ignore all of the other information that caused me to rank him the #1 quarterback and start to drop him down the board because he isn't good at scripted workouts."

Mayock arrived at that evaluation based on extensive study of Bridgewater’s play at Louisville, where he spearheaded a 12-1 record last year and posted impressive statistics, most notably throwing 31 touchdowns against just four interceptions.


That was—in Mayock’s eyes—until Bridgewater’s 30-minute workout cast doubt on his 39 collegiate games.

When put that way, it sounds really silly.

"A pro day is set up where you’re practicing 60 or 70 throws for a month, with the same receivers," Mayock told Bleacher Report. "It’s really a simple process, and every quarterback gets an A.

I have a few questions about this:

1. What's the point of a Pro Day if it is a useless process? Is it just to make sure a quarterback can follow a scripted workout? If so, I get that, but the NFL isn't a scripted league. There's no script a quarterback can definitely follow during a game.

2. If it is assumed that every quarterback will get an "A," then doesn't that mean a quarterback who has a bad Pro Day is already set up for failure? Anything less than perfection is considered failure. Even in an environment where perfection is "easy" this seems like forcing high expectations on a quarterback.

3. Why would a simple process where everyone gets an "A" somehow override everything Mayock saw on game film? Was the fact Bridgewater didn't look good in a scripted environment lead Mayock to believe everything he had seen on film was a lie? That's a lot of lies over a multi-year span of time.

"I’ve never seen a highly rated quarterback have a pro day that was that bad," said Mayock, who later dropped Bridgewater behind Manziel and Bortles. "That was unchartered territory for me. I felt like Teddy Bridgewater was the most difficult quarterback evaluation I’ve done in the last 10 or 12 years."

See, Mike Mayock didn't just drop Teddy Bridgewater down in his rankings for no good reason. He dropped Bridgewater down in his rankings for one reason, but he really struggled with this reason. It was so hard to ignore all logic that the game film showed Bridgewater may be a good NFL quarterback and base an entire evaluation on a scripted workout.

His slide was reminiscent of another top-rated quarterback: Aaron Rodgers in 2005, who went No. 24 overall.

I'm surprised Mike Mayock didn't see Aaron Rodgers throwing to some kids on a playground shortly before the 2005 draft and was disappointed in how the football was rotating, so he dropped Rodgers from the best quarterback in the 2005 to a projected undrafted free agent. 

Against the Falcons, Bridgewater completed 19 of 30 passes for 317 yards and ran five times for 27 yards, including one for a touchdown. He didn’t have any turnovers in a 41-28 Vikings win.

Great job, Teddy Bridgewater! Wait no, that's great job Norv Turner!

"You couldn’t expect that," Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner said of Bridgewater’s strong debut. "Everything had to go right."

That wasn’t an accident, Mayock said.

You mean it's not an accident because Teddy Bridgewater performed well in games during college, so the fact he performed well in a game in the NFL isn't a surprise? Because that's the direction I would lean in this situation.

"The game plan that Norv put together and Teddy executed was as good a game plan as you could have for a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start," Mayock said.

Yes, be careful not to credit Teddy Bridgewater too much. In fact, let's just not credit him at all. It's easier that way. I'm not going to overreact and say Teddy Bridgewater will be a great NFL quarterback based on one performance, but at least credit him for a good performance. I would wonder if that's too much to ask, but it's clear that it is too much to ask.

All Bridgewater had to do was walk on the field and the game plan would execute itself. It's that easy!

Mayock, though, noted there were circumstances that dramatically helped Bridgewater.

Like being without the best running back in the NFL? Having his starting tight end injured? Or was it the fact the Vikings were without their starting right guard? I'd love to hear Mayock talk about how Bridgewater stepped into circumstances that dramatically helped Bridgewater the week before when he relieved Matt Cassel against the Saints. I'm sure Bridgewater had a huge advantage that Mike Mayock could immediately identify.

I don't know how losing his 1st and 3rd best offensive weapons are circumstances that helped Teddy Bridgewater, but then again I'm also not looking to make excuses for why Bridgewater really sucks.

First, the Falcons’ 31st-ranked defense couldn't stop the run and couldn't pressure the rookie quarterback. The Vikings gained 241 rushing yards on 44 carries, along with four scores.

This turned out to be a positive for the Vikings, but Bridgewater still managed to throw for 300+ yards. Obviously Bridgewater threw for so many yards only because the Vikings running game was so strong. The reality is either way Bridgewater still had to execute in the passing game.

In addition, according to Mayock, Bridgewater’s first 10 passes were within 11 yards of the line of scrimmage, many of them quick screens or checkdowns to his running back.

Working hard to discredit Bridgewater isn't he? Matt Ryan averaged 7.3 yards per attempt and Bridgewater averaged 10.6 yards per attempt. Maybe Bridgewater's receivers were able to take the short passes and run for more yardage, but the bottom line is Bridgewater was able to recognize when to checkdown to his running back. After all, of the 19 completions on the day 4 of them went to the running back or the fullback, so it seems Bridgewater was checking down a lot...except he didn't checkdown a lot.

I won't argue that Bridgewater played outstanding and is the sole reason the Vikings won, but he did what he had to do win the game in his first start as a rookie and Mike Mayock is working hard to make it seem like events conspired to help Bridgewater play well when that's not the case. Mayock says many of the first 10 passes were within 11 yards of the line on checkdowns to his running back, yet running backs only caught 4 passes on the day.

By my count, 3 of the first 10 passes were to running backs. I don't know, maybe that's "many," but if Mayock worked as hard to fairly evaluate Bridgewater prior to the draft as he is working to discredit Bridgewater, then maybe Bridgewater wouldn't have fallen so far and quickly on his board.

"Point being, Norv gave him a bunch of opportunities to be successful early," Mayock said. "He got comfortable, and he got confident.

Which is Norv Turner's job as the offensive coordinator and it's Bridgewater's job to execute that game plan, which he did. Give him some credit rather than inventing or working hard to find reasons other than Bridgewater's performance why Bridgewater played well against the Falcons.

"It’s a phenomenal situation [for Bridgewater]," Mayock said. "Norv has seen everything, and he’s quarterback-friendly, and he puts quarterbacks in places where they have opportunities to succeed. It’s a great place for Teddy to develop."

I'm not disagreeing, but just give Bridgewater a little credit rather than chalking up all of his success to either: (1) Great circumstances that somehow fail to include Bridgewater was missing two of his top 4 offensive weapons, (2) a game plan that Mayock acts like would just execute itself no matter what Bridgewater did, and (3) checkdowns to the running back, as if a rookie quarterback taking what the defense is giving him is a bad thing.

That's the thing about evaluators like Mike Mayock. Even when presented with short-term evidence he may be wrong, he's not going to back down. He will protect his reputation and past opinions rather than just say, "During this one game, Bridgewater looked good." He just doesn't want to even give the slight appearance he could be wrong, so he refuses to give Bridgewater credit, ignores any setbacks Bridgewater may have faced and gives Norv Turner the credit for the performance of the Vikings' offense.

Norv Turner was at Louisville's pro day, along with Mayock, and three NFL head coaches. Representatives from 29 NFL clubs were present.
After the workout, Mayock approached Turner, whom he admired and respected.

Mike Mayock probably went up to Norv Turner and said, "Boy that offensive coordinator for Louisville really put Teddy Bridgewater in a position to succeed. There's all that top-shelf talent on the offense and notice how Bridgewater doesn't force throws where he shouldn't and manages the game. What a wimp, am I right? It's so clear the Louisville offensive coordinator deserves much of the credit for Bridgewater's success."

"I asked him what he thought because he’s a veteran," Mayock said, recalling his conversation with Turner. "He’s been around forever. He said, 'Mike, it wasn’t that bad. Everything is correctable. It’s no problem.'"

And then Mayock thought about all 39 games he watched Bridgewater play in college, took the well-respected opinion of the offensive coordinator who has "seen everything and he's quarterback-friendly" and then completely dismissed it because dammit, those Pro Days that don't mean anything really meant something this time.

Turner didn’t address his conversation with Mayock on Tuesday after the Vikings' practice, but he bristled at the negative perception of Bridgewater’s performance during his pro day.

Oh, so this horrendous Pro Day that Bridgewater had wasn't universally thought to be so terrible? So at this point, Mayock has ignored all of the tape he saw of Bridgewater, ignored the opinion of a well-respected quarterback-friendly coach, and decided this one Pro Day is representative of the type of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be in the NFL. I have no idea why, but it's a special kind of stupid who takes the #1 quarterback on his draft board and drops him to the #5 quarterback for having a bad Pro Day. If Mayock liked Bridgewater, what does a Pro Day matter? It's all on the tape and it wasn't a universally accepted idea Bridgewater's Pro Day was so terrible. In fact, the same guy who Mayock thinks is a play-calling genius, Norv Turner, thought Bridgewater didn't have a bad Pro

"First of all, because someone said [Bridgewater] had a bad pro day doesn’t mean he had a bad pro day," Turner said. "I didn't think he had a bad pro day.

Yeah, but Mike Mayock only wants to pay attention to your opinion when it suits his needs. Norv Turner is a genius offensive coordinator when Mayock wants to discredit Bridgewater's performance, but when Mayock disagrees with Turner's evaluation of Bridgewater's Pro Day then he doesn't think Turner is all that smart. Norv Turner is brilliant when his actions support what Mike Mayock believes.

"Then when you watched the tape, you said, 'Hey, he’s going to be an outstanding quarterback in this league.'

Mike Mayock did watch the tape. That's the stuff he chose to completely ignore in favor of basing his evaluation on one bad day Bridgewater had.

Added an AFC general manager, who spoke on the condition of anonymity: "It wasn’t that bad. Everyone wanted to script it for TV so it was like a reality show. That’s not a real workout. It’s a circus."

Yeah, but a quarterback should get an "A" for it and Mike Mayock did NOT see an "A" performance. Plus, Bridgewater was only good against the Falcons because Norv Turner is a genius whose opinion is brilliant until Mayock decides it's not brilliant.

"There are certain things—I don't care who you are and how long you’ve been doing it—that you can’t teach," Turner said. "He’s got a naturalness about him that you’re not going to teach."

Yeah, but...the bad Pro Day. What about that?

The Vikings have had a tumultuous start to the 2014 season. Perennial Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson hasn't played since child-endangerment charges surfaced last month, and the Vikings have lost several other key players, including tight end Kyle Rudolph.

Mike Mayock things losing good players helps Teddy Bridgewater out because it forces Norv Turner to be more creative in his play-calling. So really, it's an advantage to Bridgewater that these two players are out.

Yet Bridgewater was widely praised for his performance against the Falcons.

Mayock knows Norv Turner deserves all the praise. All Bridgewater had to do was go out and execute the game plan. That's the easy part, executing a game plan against an NFL defense.

I'll let this whole "Mayock loved Teddy Bridgewater until his bad Pro Day" thing go at some point. Not today. It's still nonsensical to me. Mayock loves Bridgewater until a bad Pro Day and then he's all of a sudden the 5th best QB in the draft?


Chris said...

How does Mayock not see the inconsistent logic in Pro Days not mattering but then shitting all over Bridgewater because of his pro day? I also like Mayock seeming to prefer to toss a rookie qb into a baptism by fire with no gameplan or system to help him get used to quarterbacking in the NFL and hoping everything works out in the end.

Of course I have very little faith in any draft prognosticators especially since Kiper dropped Winston from basically 1st overall to out of the first round because he shouted some stupid phrase in college.

franc said...

i'm guessing every nfl coach knows pro days are media days and basically exist to pump up prospects, not for serious player evaluation. i don't know much about mayock, but this seems like nothing but excuses. he made a stupid mistake (maybe he wanted to grab some attention) and now he can't admit it. it's always a good thing when scouts remain stubborn and don't learn from their mistakes, right?

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I don't think he cares about the inconsistent logic. He only cares that what he saw at the Pro Day chased him away from Bridgewater as the #1 QB. It's hilarious how he thinks so highly of Norv Turner as an OC and thinks he's brilliant, but Turner's own evaluation of Bridgewater's Pro Day has no impact on Mayock. It's like his mind is made up and no amount of respecting Norv for being so smart will change that.

Norv is smart enough to make Bridgewater successful, but not smart enough for Mayock to consider maybe he is personally wrong about Bridgewater's Pro Day. He gives Norv credit for Bridgewater's success b/c it fits what he saw at the Pro Day. Mind made up, nothing will change it.

I have very little faith in these prognosticators overall too. They are guessing.

Franc, exactly. Just say, "I was wrong" but he doubles down and essentially says Turner set Bridgewater up for success. Of course, that's what an OC is supposed to do with a QB starting his first-ever NFL game, but that's beside the point. The point is Bridgewater had to execute the game plan and Mayock immediately tries to discredit Bridgewater.

JBsptfn said...

You said that the NFL isn't scripted. This guy here seems to think otherwise:

Superfraud blog

He makes some good points, but he is basically calling for the NFL to be shutdown on an almost daily basis.

HH said...

"Point being, Norv gave him a bunch of opportunities to be successful early," Mayock said.

Huh. Why don't more coaches do this? In fact, why even bother drafting a QB? Pick up an undrafted free agent and have the coordinator give him opportunities to be successful. Clearly Bridgewater's skill has nothing to do with it. Why bother getting someone with skill if it's only the coaching that matters?

Bengoodfella said...

JB, I can agree with some of that. I have to say, I don't know if sports are fixed or not, but I know a lot of people feel that way. If so, Jeter would be in the World Series this year I think. I had a friend growing up and his dad swore all sports were fake. He used to tease me about loving sports by saying it was just pro wrestling. I don't like pro wrestling so he knows it annoyed me. I love a good conspiracy and I think sometimes games have been fixed by officials but I don't think sports are fixed really.

HH, that's a good point too. It's not as easy as "Make him successful and it will happen." I don't think Bridgewater is going to the HoF, but I think he's a great leader and the best QB in the class. Norv helps make Bridgewater successful in his first game? That's called helping a rookie QB get confidence.

The real point being, Mike Mayock will wait until he absolutely has to and then give Bridgewater some credit or say there is a chance he overreacted by basing his entire evaluation on a Pro Day.