Teddy Bridgewater may have flamed out in Carolina but he's no joke. The eighth-year pro brings 49 career starts to the table for the Denver Broncos and a wealth of experience working with multiple top-shelf play-callers like Sean Payton in New Orleans and Joe Brady in Carolina.
Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is another guy Bridgewater had crossed paths with prior to Denver, though the former Louisville star never got the chance to play in a regular-season game with him due to that career-threatening injury the QB overcame. Shurmur has a familiarity with Bridgewater as a result.
Since Bridgewater arrived in Denver to participate in voluntary OTAs, Shurmur has gotten his hands back on the QB and has been able to see just how he's grown since their time together in Minnesota circa 2016-17.
“He’s more experienced. He’s been in a couple different situations since the time we were together—one where he’s the backup and one where he was the starter," Shurmur said last week. "I see [it] when he’s out there executing. He’s been able to pick things up very quickly. There’s a lot of similarities to some of the things that we did [along with] some of the new stuff. He picks up quickly and he’s a quick decision-maker. He determines quickly whether he has what we’re looking for down the field, and then he’ll check it down."
As much as Shurmur might find relief in a quarterback with no compunction about checking it down, that's the chief criticism of Bridgewater as a pro; he doesn't take chances. On one hand, that can be a good thing because it doesn't put his team in unnecessarily bad situations.
On the other, it can hamper the development of an offense because in today's NFL, teams have to push the envelope in order to hang with juggernauts like the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens.
There's a happy balance somewhere and maybe Bridgewater will find it in Denver. But he's got to vanquish Drew Lock first in order to be named the Broncos' starting quarterback.
"This has been a really important time for him, and really for all of us," Shurmur said of Bridgewater. "We’ve got almost a half-season worth of reps in the last few days of OTAs and minicamp. All that work has been really, really good for him. He’s probably a more experienced player than when I was with him. Unfortunately, when I was with him, he got hurt early on in our time in Minnesota.”
Indeed, Bridgewater suffered a grievous knee injury during an offseason practice in 2016, just months removed from earning his first Pro Bowl nod. After doctors saved his knee/leg, it took him a good year to rehab and bounce back but bounce back he did.
Bridgewater was cleared by the Vikings' medical staff in October of 2017 but by then, the team had moved forward with its contingencies at QB: namely, Sam Bradford and Case Keenum. So Bridgewater never really got the chance to shine for Shurmur in Minnesota but there's a distinct possibility he will in Denver.
But Teddy has to get through Lock first.
“You just keep shooting," Bridgewater said last week. "You don’t get carried away in what’s going on. You just keep playing ball. When I’m out there, I understand my job is just to [get] completions, get the ball to my guys and not my opponents, and keep our offense on the field. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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