Teddy Bridgewater’s assumed flaws proving to be strengths

Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

After a somewhat uninspiring quarterback competition over the Summer, Teddy Bridgewater is proving his assumed flaws are actually…strengths?

Unfortunately in the world of NFL talking heads, it’s not cool to admit you were wrong about something. It’s still very early in the season, and it’s fair to remain at least somewhat skeptical, but it appears as though many (including myself) were wrong about Teddy Bridgewater.

The Denver Broncos acquired Teddy Bridgewater in a trade the day before the 2021 NFL Draft. Just about everyone was confused as to what the acquisition meant.

Did Bridgewater’s arrival mean that the Broncos liked Drew Lock more than anyone anticipated they would after a new general manager took over?

Did Bridgewater’s arrival mean the team actually wanted him as the starter for 2021?

Did Bridgewater’s arrival signal drafting a QB in round one as a certainty?

When the Broncos passed on quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft, I assumed that it meant George Paton was more fond of Drew Lock than anything else. Bridgewater was coming off of an okay year with Carolina, but the Panthers moved on from him in favor of former third overall pick Sam Darnold one year after signing Teddy to a three-year contract worth more than $63 million.

The Panthers are now paying Bridgewater more than $7 million this season to play for the Denver Broncos, and he’s counting over $17 million against their salary cap with the bonus he received in the 2020 offseason.

The Denver Broncos are only paying Teddy Bridgewater just over $4 million this season, a bargain for the way he has played thus far.

Teddy Bridgewater’s historic start in 2021

Through two games, Bridgewater has completed 77.1 percent of his passes for just under 600 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.

As crazy as it seems, he has been almost the exact opposite of what many people assumed he would be coming to Denver from Carolina.

Isn’t this guy a journeyman?

Anyone can get hot for a couple of games, so we shouldn’t buy into Teddy Bridgewater at this point, right?

Again, it’s fair to remain slightly skeptical. The Denver Broncos have played two games against the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars. With that being said, the fact that there have been detractors after Bridgewater’s incredible start is even more predictable than Teddy Bridgewater’s tendency not to attack the ball downfield.

Speaking of that claim…

Through two weeks of the 2021 NFL season, only Russell Wilson has more intended air yards per pass attempt than “check-down Teddy” with the Broncos.

Bridgewater is averaging 10.0 air yards per pass attempt behind Wilson’s 10.2.

Considering everyone apparently knew “what” Bridgewater was going into the 2021 season, I’d say: Leading the NFL in QBR (83.3), setting a Denver Broncos franchise record by completing 77.8 percent of his passes in week one, ranking second in the league in air yards per attempt, and ranking second behind Baker Mayfield in completion percentage (Mayfield has thrown 21 fewer passes) through two games, is all very surprising.

Bridgewater’s efficiency as a quarterback was an area of contention among Denver Broncos fans because he was not overly careful with the ball all of last season with the Panthers.

So far through two games, he’s perfect in that area.

Not only that, but Bridgewater’s 5.7 touchdown percentage through two games would also be the best of his NFL career if that holds up over the course of the season. He finished last season in Carolina with a career-low 3.0 touchdown percentage and fans who didn’t want him to be the starter in Denver this year noted the fact that he’s never thrown more than 15 touchdown passes in a given season.

That is obviously a fair concern, and nobody should be rushing to conclusions after two games.

With that being said, it would be a different story if Bridgewater were consistently checking the ball down or completely whiffing on open receivers downfield. He hasn’t been doing that. As strong as his first two games were, they could have been even better if not for:

  • A dropped pass by KJ Hamler
  • A missed penalty against a Jaguars DB on Courtland Sutton
  • And yes, some misses from Teddy Bridgewater himself

Again, Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t been perfect but anyone who says they could see this start coming from miles away is not only lying to everyone else, but also themselves.

Sure, on paper the Denver Broncos should have been expected to start the 2021 season no worse than 2-1, and at this point, they should undoubtedly be expected to be 3-0 after this Sunday’s matchup against the New York Jets.

Despite the expectations everyone had for the team on paper going into the season, show me the person that put money on Teddy Bridgewater setting a Denver Broncos franchise record for completion percentage in his debut.

Show me the person who put money on Bridgewater leading the league in QBR through two weeks.

Show me the person who put money on Bridgewater ranking 2nd in the league in air yards per attempt at any point in the season, much less after the first two games.

At least as of right now, so much for the check-down Teddy narratives. So much for the idea that Bridgewater is “just a guy” who is clearly a known commodity and has maximized his potential in the NFL.

Time will tell if he can keep it up, but over the first two games of the season, fans should be giving Bridgewater the respect he deserves for lighting up the first two defenses put in front of him.