Teddy Bridgewater is a known leader. The veteran quarterback, now hanging his hat with the Denver Broncos, steps into a locker room and immediately commands respect.
How could that be? After all, Bridgewater is still a relative pup in regards to his NFL experience with 49 career starts. He made a Pro Bowl in his second year but that was five long seasons ago.
For Bridgewater, it starts with a reputation that precedes him. The Broncos locker room had heard tell about 'Teddy Two-Gloves' long before he arrived.
But how did Teddy get that reputation? In an interesting conversation with Bridgewater's former Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, Sean Keeler of The Denver Post was able to glean some insight into the question.
“It starts with giving (Bridgewater) the opportunity. And he knows he has to earn it," Watson told Keeler. "That’s the beautiful thing about Teddy: He accepts that nothing will be given and he has to be ready to earn everything. I think that where he has come from is different than most everybody I’ve ever been around. He can take a team to another level. He really can.”
The Broncos are hoping to reach another level this year after five straight seasons of missing the playoffs, the last four of which were sub-.500 finishes. However, as much as we know Bridgewater believes he'll have to earn it, incumbent starter Drew Lock stands in his way of winning the job.
By watching the pair of Bridgewater's Zoom pressers during OTAs, fans could divine that the QB really does take an interest in his teammates. He actually cares about these men that he's known for a matter of weeks.
Teddy's teammates feel that and respond in kind. When a group knows its leader is willing to take a figurative bullet for them, it will go to great lengths to reciprocate and go to war for that guy.
“Teddy, he’s a giver,” Watson told The Denver Post. “There are two types of people in the world: Takers and givers. He is a giver.”
The best quarterbacks in the NFL are very much like a point guard. Their job is to get the ball to the playmakers and keep the plays running on schedule. 5he 61-year-old Watson used a mixed-sports metaphor to describe Bridgewater, his former pupil.
“He elevated everybody to play their best,” recounted Watson, 61, now the quarterbacks coach at Northern Iowa. “Because he understood what it meant to be a quarterback, to distribute the ball, to get the playmakers’ hands on the ball. He understood schematically what we were trying to do. He’s a point guard. He gets the ball out to those guys.
“He knows how to make the big throw, the big play. He could throw open guys like nobody I ever had … he was gritty and tough in the pocket. Yet he could extend plays or create plays with his feet. An unbelievable decision-maker.”
It will be interesting to see how Bridgewater's competition with Lock unfolds when training camp arrives on July 28. Both QBs will have to sing for their supper.
We knew Bridgewater was a special leader. Alas, it takes more than that to succeed as a QB in the NFL. It also takes football acumen, which Teddy has in spades, and talent.
Bridgewater has talent but his arm is NFL average. He has to rely on his football brain to, as Coach Watson said, "throw guys open" because he doesn't have the arm strength to rifle the ball into a small window.
Lock, meanwhile, has a howitzer on his right shoulder but is likely trailing Bridgewater in the football acumen department. If the Broncos could somehow combine these two signal-callers to get one super QB, this team would have it made in the shade.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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