Teddy Bridgewater Has Denver Broncos In Playoff Hunt| Steady Teddy Keeps Writing One Of The Greatest Comeback Stories In NFL History

Photo: teddyb_h2o/Twitter

Teddy Bridgewater continues to be the model of consistency, always producing and never getting the adulation afforded other more flamboyant quarterbacks.

The football world has no choice but to anoint him with adulation following his Week 9 performance in a 30-16 upset domination of the Dallas Cowboys.

 

The unheralded Bridgewater is the ultimate pro and a calming humility in a league filled with egos and false prophets hyped by the social media mosh pit. 

Bridgewater’s name is often an afterthought, even in the complex conversations about the handful of Black quarterbacks leading NFL teams. Once the narrative is exhausted on Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and the like, then maybe we get to Steady Teddy B, who at this point in his career is more journeyman than elite prospect. But he still exudes leadership and wins everywhere he goes. 

That’s why teams were definitely knocking on the Broncos’ door before the trade deadline to see if Bridgewater was available.

The Denver Broncos have been searching for a quarterback who can stabilize the offense, make big plays and protect the ball ever since Peyton Manning victoriously limped off the field after his 2015 farewell tour Super Bowl against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. 

Enter Teddy Bridgewater, who has 14 touchdowns and five picks this season with a 101.3 quarterback rating for a Broncos team that is surprising 5-4 and in the AFC playoff hunt just one week after trading the best pass rusher in team history.  

Some might say they got Teddy Bridewater off the scrap heap. He’s actually been a blessing for Broncos head honcho John Elway, who needed a stroke of luck.  

The Trials & Tribulations Of Teddy Bridewater 

The Miami native was a star at Miami Northwestern High School, where Rivals.com ranked him as the No. 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 interceptions while leading the team to an overall record of 30-9.

The Vikings selected Bridgewater with the 32nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft, which was considered low. He proceeded to win the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year Award, punishing NFL executives who had him pegged correctly in April of his junior season (alongside  Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel) as one of college football’s top prospects but fronted on him a season later on draft day as Bridgewater dropped to the last pick of the first round. Bridgewater has been playing with a chip on his shoulder ever since.

The same thing happened to Lamar Jackson four years later. The Ravens became the benficiary of a systemic brainfreeze on the part of the 31 other GMs.

“People thought he was special. He was always underrated,” said NFL analyst and Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter. “That’s why he had to leave the state of Florida and go to Louisville. He was prolific throwing the ball there, winning a whole bunch of games. Then all of sudden the draft comes around, and people start downgrading him for all these types of reasons that were unfounded.”

It didn’t matter.

In his two seasons as the Vikings’ starter, Bridgewater threw for 6,150 yards, 28 TDs and 22 interceptions, with a completion percentage of 64.7 percent. 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. He even made the Pro Bowl after passing for 3,423 yards and 17 touchdowns in his second season, helping the Minnesota Vikings reach the playoffs with an 11-5 record.

Then came the horrific non-contact injury he suffered in 2016. It threatened to end his career. But he miraculously worked through the injury and two years later, he signed with the Jets before being traded to the Saints.

Road To Redemption 

In 2018, TSL 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 moved to New England to write his own redemption song. 

Bridgewater was available and had proved that he was healthy and ready to rock.

He got an opportunity to take over for an injured Drew Brees 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”…But Better & Without The SB Ring 

Bridgwater has come a long way from when ESPN analyst Rex Ryan tried to assassinate any chance of a career revival.

 

Sliding under the radar is fine with Bridgewater. While great quarterback prospects come and go and some never reach their potential, Teddy seems to actually thrive off of being underestimated. He keeps getting in where he fits in. Silent, but often deadly. That’s become his MO.

When we talk about NFL stories that truly reflect the character, perseverance and resilience that the game of football claims to promote, Bridgewater is one of those company faces that never oversells but is always as advertised.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.