Teddy Bridgewater has bridged from replacing one Drew in September 2019 to trying to displace another Drew in September 2021.
All the while Teddy Football goes to work as a quarterback “with a smile on my face.’’
But Bridgewater had a fearful frown on Nov. 15. In between Drews, he was the starter for the Panthers and, at mid-season past, setting a pace to complete more than 72 percent of his passes, possibly surpassing the Drew Brees all-time NFL record of 74.4 (2018).
“When I look back on last year, I think I was playing really good football for the first eight or seven games,’’ Teddy said during a media conference Tuesday.
Then he injured the Other knee.
The Vikings’ first-round pick in 2014 suffered a severe torn ACL and dislocated left knee in a noncontact drill in 2016. Doctors were concerned he might not play football or walk properly again before his 18-month rehabilitation. After an astounding recovery, Teddy eventually would appear in only one more Minnesota game and throw two passes. He became a free agent, moving on to the Saints as Brees’ rarely utilized backup in ‘18. Two years ago, though, Brees was injured in the second game, and Bridgewater took over. He won all five starts before Brees returned.
In March 2020, Teddy signed a three-year, $63 million contract with Carolina to follow Cam Newton.
Missing multitalented Christian McCaffrey, three offensive linemen and a defense, the Panthers began with two losses, but won three in a row. They dropped four straight (including three-point defeats to the Saints and the Chiefs). Then, as Bridgewater laments, “we play Tampa Bay’’ and he is hurt. Teddy threw for two touchdowns and ran for one before the Bucs busted out.
In the fourth quarter edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul blitzed Bridgewater and twisted his knee.
His right knee.
The limping Bridgewater was assisted into the blue sideline tent and, the next day, underwent an MRI. He describes the injury now as “something inside my knee.’’
He was declared inactive for the Nov. 22 game, but started again against his former team and his future team. The knee issue “lingered the rest of the season. I should have shut it down, but I just love this game, and I never want to take it for granted,’’ particularly because of the devastating damage he endured as a young man.
Prior to the latest injury, Bridgewater was among the quarterback accuracy leaders with six games of a passing percentage above 70 and one (vs. the Brees team) of 82. He threw 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
After the injury his completion percentage dipped; he managed only two touchdowns with four interceptions, and the Panthers lost four of six.
He shouldn’t have played, but did end up sixth at 69.1 percent completions. Lock’s percentage in 18 career games is 59.1.
The Panthers had seen enough. They decided to dump Teddy and trade for Sam Darnold. Broncos’ George Paton had seen enough of Bridgewater when they were together in Minneapolis. Instead of drafting a quarterback, G-Man traded a sixth-round selection for Bridgewater, and Carolina ate, oddly, 70 percent of his salary.
Bridgewater says his knee has “completely healed.”
Drew 1 has retired. Drew 2 is Teddy’s competition for starter in Denver.
Unless the Broncos, who once briefly became the first NFL team to investigate signing a veteran free agent quarterback who wound up with the Vikings (Kirk Cousins), acquire a veteran QB from another NFC far North franchise.
At the Broncos’ official, required three-day minicamp Tuesday, Lock and Bridgewater continued their duel, which doesn’t compare historically to Hamilton and Burr with pistols at 10 paces, but is most intriguing and will be determined with passes at 10-100 paces.
Sides are divided at Dove Valley, in Colorado and throughout the pro football sphere. Lock is the incumbent, but Bridgewater has the early lead because of more and more productive workouts so far. Coach Vic Fangio somewhat praised the antagonists Tuesday, but the all-important choice supposedly won’t be made until late August.
Asked to define his passing style, Bridgewater, wearing a smile on his face you could pour on pancakes, said: “Catchable pass. I play pitch and catch.’’
It’s The Gunslinger vs. The Floater. May the best quarterback win.