Can quarterback Teddy Bridgewater thrive in Denver?
By: Steven Johnson
Coming off of a spectacular start to the NFL season, all Bronco eyes are on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. After winning the competition at quarterback this offseason, Bridgewater threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns on 28 passing attempts in week one. These numbers helped the Broncos stamp a definitive win on their week one matchup against the New York Giants. Bridgewater finished with a 95.7 QBR, the highest of any quarterback in week one. This performance is exactly the type of play that many in the organization and fanbase needed to see from Teddy to put their faith in him as the face of this Broncos team.
Following up week one, this Sunday the Broncos headed to Florida to compete against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bridgewater once again was able to perform reminiscent of his pro bowl season in 2015. The Denver quarterback threw for another two touchdowns and 328 yards this time. Bridgewater was able to avoid any interceptions or fumbles and complete a positive 76% of his passes on the day. The average yards per pass attempt was higher this week as well, a 9.6 average compared to week one’s 7.3 average. Teddy was able to not only build off of his week one performance but put on an even better showing for Denver and its fanbase. So far, Bridgewater and these young receivers of the Broncos are pulling off a 592 yard-4 touchdown-ZERO interception effort through the first two weeks. These two weeks, while a small sample size, has given hope that Bridgewater can return to the youthful promise he showed early in his career.
Looking back at Bridgewater’s previous seasons there is hope for exceptional quarterback play. In his second season with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015, Bridgewater threw for 3400 yards and 17 touchdowns to earn his first Pro Bowl nod. This seemed to put Bridgwater firmly in view as the Vikings’ quarterback of the future. In the year that followed, Teddy’s major ACL injury kept him sidelined and almost ended his young career. After working his way back, injuries and bad luck played a part in keeping him off the field and away from competing. While playing for the New Orleans Saints in 2019, he seemed to have a resurgence as he stepped into the starting role, leading the team for an injured Drew Brees. Bridgewater led the team to a 5-0 record while throwing for 1300 yards and 9 touchdowns. The following season he would leave the Saints to play for the Carolina Panthers. Bridgewater dealt with an offense plagued by injuries. With an injured Christian McCaffrey, the offense became one-dimensional. Still, Bridgewater finished the season with a respectable 3700 yards and 15 touchdowns, although also throwing 11 interceptions.
This offseason after Leaving the Panthers to come to play for Denver, Bridgewater has stumbled into an offensive situation much more lucrative than he had during his time in Carolina. While he continues to grow with the Denver offense, he will undoubtedly become more comfortable and recognize the best way to utilize his weapons. If the Broncos’ offense gives their talented defense enough opportunities to rush the passer and close out games, it will be a very tough group for anyone to compete against this season.
Bridgewater’s most impressive feat early this season is his ability to stay cool in the pocket while showing enough mobility to extend plays for big impacts. Many who criticized Bridgewater cite a lack of aggressiveness in his play. Worried that Teddy will only take underneath throws or refuse to take shots downfield, Bridgewater showed that he will take chances and even went a stunning 5-5 on fourth down conversions so far this season. Bridgewater is showing poise and awareness in the pocket that brings a sense of confidence to the huddle. The ability to sit and take big hits while delivering the ball shows a veteran mindset and understanding of the game. While not known as a running quarterback, Bridgewater’s ability to extend plays so far this season has resulted in electric plays and success for the Denver offense as a whole. Losing Jerry Jeudy to injury in week one will hurt the overall playmaking ability of the offense, however, Courtland Sutton returning to form could be a formidable duo with Bridgewater building their chemistry.
As of week two, Bridgewater is on pace for over 5,000 yards, 43 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. While not realistic to sustain these numbers, it is an impressive comparison to start the season. If Bridgewater can channel anything similar to those averages throughout the entire NFL season, he would be in immediate contention. This goes not only for Pro Bowl consideration but league MVP as well. With the strong defense in the Broncos locker room and an offense full of young playmakers, the sky can be the limit for this team under “steady” Teddy Bridgewater.