The biggest decision the Denver Broncos organization will have to make this summer is the verdict on who will be starting quarterback. GM George Paton has set the course for a fierce competition between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater.
The decision will likely decide whether the Broncos go on to make a playoff run and, potentially, the fate of the coaching staff. To his credit, Paton kept his word about adding competition to push Lock. The third-year QB will have to win it to keep his job as the starter.
The Broncos traded a sixth-round draft pick to the Carolina Panthers for Bridgewater and Paton is familiar with the veteran signal-caller from their time together with the Minnesota Vikings. The camp battle will stir Lock’s competitive juices and potentially help take his talent to the next level.
Today, though, we're breaking down Bridgewater — his story, his skill-set, and what he brings to the Broncos.
Bridgewater has navigated both the mountains and valleys of an NFL career. He was a first-round pick of the Vikings and was selected to the Pro Bowl following his 2015 campaign after leading his team to an NFC North crown and a playoff berth. He has also experienced the lows of a near-career-ending ACL tear, leading to his eventual departure from Minnesota and bouncing around the NFL.
The realities of the game are nothing new to Bridgewater. When asked during a press conference about the possibility of Aaron Rodgers joining the team Bridgewater stated, “In this business, you have to wear big-boy pants and I wear them."
Bridgewater’s NFL experience should help him manage the pressure of the camp competition. Throughout his career, he's passed for 11,385 yards and 53 touchdowns with 36 interceptions, and a passer rating of 89.5.
In New Orleans in 2019, Bridgewater replaced an injured, future Hall-of-Famer in Drew Brees for five games, leading the Saints to a 5-0 record. Landing in Carolina the next year on a three-year, $63 million free-agent deal, Bridgewater completed 340-of-492 passes for 3,733 yards and 15 touchdowns with 11 picks for a passer rating of 92.1. Additionally, Bridgewater rushed for 279 yards and whopping five touchdowns last year.
Bridgewater is a poised quarterback in the pocket and is known for his accuracy on short and mid-range passes. Early in voluntary minicamp, he and Broncos' second-year wideout Jerry Jeudy have connected on several big-time plays.
Bridgewater leverages the experience gleaned from working in five different offensive schemes — including Norv Turner, Pat Shurmur, Jim Bates (temporarily), and Joe Brady — to find weaknesses in coverage and attack where they're most vulnerable. Along with his athletic gifts, Bridgewater has a high football IQ and has been known for his well-respected leadership abilities.
In his first practice with the Broncos, Bridgewater flexed his leadership by delivering route expectations, tips on timing, and getting teammates pumped up.
Bridgewater throws with precision but not high velocity. Although capable of stretching the field, Broncos Country should not expect him to total a huge number of 300-yard passing games.
While able to sense the pocket is collapsing and be an efficient scrambler, Bridgewater has not shown the speed needed to gain large chunks of yards while rushing. Although outside the building, media are buzzing that Bridgewater has taken a slight lead over Lock in the quarterback competition, it's way too early to judge who has the edge.
Lock and Bridgewater both deserve a fair chance to compete with the first-teamers and showcase their respective talents. There’s still time, so fans would be wise to slow down and trust the process.
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