Cam Newton has gotten a huge amount of press for his play with the Patriots and even more attention due to his recent Coronavirius diagnosis, which forced the Patriots-Chiefs game to be moved to tonight — without the services of Superman. Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Jackson, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson and Kyler Murray. They all get their proper share of the ink.
Bridgewater, however, hasn’t been spoken about, but he’s doing his damn thing in Carolina. He outplayed the more-heralded Murray and led Carolina to an upset 31-21 win on Sunday. Everyone expected this to be the Kyler Murray show but Bridgewater threw for 26 of 37 for 276 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and led a Panthers offense that totaled 30 first downs and nearly 450 total yards.
Damn Teddy !
Nobody expected Carolina to do much after switching head coaches, getting rid of Cam Newton, and committing to a rebuild, but they’re currently 2-2 and tied with the Saints for second place in the NFC South.
He also had his first rushing TD since that catastrophic injury that almost ended it all. That’s Teddy B. He’s been a winner, a team elevator, a locker room blessing, his entire career.
The Long Road Back
In 2018, I wrote a piece supporting Teddy Bridgewater as Jets starter over rookie Sam Darnold. But the Jets wanted to rebuild with Darnold and throw him into the fire rather than allow a veteran to hold down the fort as they continued to dismantle the team under coach Todd Bowles.
So at the end of August 2018, the Jets traded Bridgewater and a 2019 sixth round-pick to the Saints for a 2019 third-round pick.
Cam Newton was three years removed from his 2015 MVP season (which was also the last year Bridgewater was an NFL starter) and Super Bowl appearance but played just 14 games in 2018 due to myriad injuries. The new Panthers leadership and new head coach Matt Rhule decided to cut ties with Cam who is writing his own redemption song in New England.
Bridgewater was available and had proven that he was healthy and ready to rock.
He got an opportunity to take over for an injured Drew Brees last season and masterfully orchestrated Sean Payton’s offense to a 5-0 record, highlighted by a 314-yard passing, four-TD game against the Bucs. Bridgewater showed the same poise, accuracy, and mobility that he flexed in his early years as the Vikings franchise QB.
Those five games, combined with Cam’s inevitable departure led Bridgewater to sign a three-year $60 million deal to replace Cam as the Panthers’ new signal-caller.
Teddy probably won’t give you too many jaw-dropping highlights, but he’s a supreme game manager, who can certainly make a play when necessary.
Call him “The Black Nick Foles.”
Bridgwater has come a long way from when ESPN analyst Rex Ryan tried to assassinate any chance of a career revival.
The Miami native was a star at Miami Northwestern High School, where Rivals.com ranked him as the #6 dual-threat QB in the nation. He signed with Louisville and in his three years under center for the Cardinals he threw for 9,817 yards and 72 TDs with 24 Ints while leading the team to an overall record of 30-9. These numbers are one of the reasons why the Vikings selected him with the 32nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
In his two seasons as the Vikings’ starter, Bridgewater threw for 6,150 yards, 28 TDs and 22 Ints, with a completion percentage of 64.7%. While those numbers didn’t make him elite, he did help the team make the playoffs in 2015 and you could see his trajectory as a passer and all-around force was moving upward.
Then came the horrific non-contact injury he suffered in 2016, something that threatened his future career. But he worked through the injury and two years later, he signed with the Jets before being traded to the Saints.
Now he’s leading an NFL team again. And winning. It’s almost a miracle.