In his first season as the starting quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater finished with a 4-11 record and tossed for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions while completing 69.1% of his passes.
My overall grade for Bridgewater: C-, borderline D+.
At times, Bridgewater looked more than capable of leading this team not only now but in the future. The only problem was the consistency just wasn't there this past season. He would have some stretches where he couldn't hit his target, but would then follow that up by hitting 10 of 11 passes after already being down two scores.
Obviously, the biggest issue aside from consistency was his inability to lead the Panthers down the field for a game-winning drive and it's not like the opportunities weren't there. Carolina lost eight of their eleven games this season by one score and in many of those games, the Panthers had the ball in their hands with a chance to either tie the game up or win it. Some of those game-killing drives were caused by poor play from the receivers or poor pass protection, but some of them were bad decisions made by Bridgewater. He would either force a ball into a tight window trying to make something happen or would hold onto the ball just a tad too long and take a sack rather than throwing the ball away and living to see another down.
I wanted to reserve my overall judgment on Teddy until the very end of the season because there were a lot of things that were not in his favor. He didn't have Christian McCaffrey for 13 games, he had multiple starters on the offensive line miss several games, and had a rookie head coach and a first-year offensive coordinator to go along with it.
All that said, the final game of the season vs New Orleans proved to me that Bridgewater is not the Panthers' long-term solution. I pretty much had this in my head already, but as I mentioned above, I wanted to get through the season first.
Throwing two interceptions in the end zone just simply can't happen. That's potentially 14 points wiped off the board due to a pair of bad throws that could have really changed the whole feel of the game. What was most staggering about the two interceptions in the end zone is that they were both severely underthrown, which is the last thing you want to do as a quarterback. If you overshoot it or push it too far out of bounds, that's something that you can live with. Underthrowing will get you nearly every single time.
Bridgewater's completion percentage may be a bit inflated due to all of the check-downs that he made, but the majority of plays were designed to go short and underneath, which makes me think the coaching staff didn't have much confidence in his ability to throw the ball downfield accurately and consistently. If you have two receivers like Robby Anderson and DJ Moore and can't take shots with those guys, then that's a major waste of two deep threats.
Head coach Matt Rhule says that he needs Bridgewater to have a "fantastic offseason" but something tells me that the Panthers may already be looking for an alternative solution. Maybe it's the fact that they reached out to Dwayne Haskins just a week after he was benched, then cut by the Washington Football Team.
It was not a pretty season for Bridgewater but I've seen far worse quarterback play, which is why I'm keeping his grade above a D.
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