The spotlight at quarterback was firmly focused on rookie Sam Darnold heading into the New York Jets week 2 preseason matchup against the Washington Redskins. The third overall pick in the draft was set to start an NFL game for the first time in his career. But it was his back up, Teddy Bridgewater, who stole the headlines.
The addition of Bridgewater in free agency seemed like a questionable move at first for the Jets. They had retained 2017 starter Josh McCown and had already traded up in the draft to put them in prime position to select a top quarterback – which they did by grabbing Darnold. Bridgewater seemed like a surplus. Bridgewater is only two years removed from a devastating leg injury he suffered during 2016 training camp with the Minnesota Vikings but came to New York to help get his career back on track.
Bridgewater looked like a starting caliber quarterback on Thursday night. He didn’t make many mistakes and looked confident under center. He completed 10 of his 15 pass attempts for 127 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. His completion percentage would have been even higher if it weren’t for his receivers dropping catchable passes.
The quarterback showed off his confidence and mobility by making a variety of throws on the run. Whether by design or improvisation he was comfortable leaving the pocket and making smart, accurate throws on the move.
Whether the receiver was able to bring the pass down or not, they were all well placed, some even perfectly placed. These are the passes that really helped him stick out when he was the starting quarterback of the 2015 Vikings team that won the NFC North.
One thing that Bridgewater was criticized for both coming out of Louisville and during his time in Minnesota was his struggles throwing downfield. He sometimes would get too reliant on checking the ball down and had issues hitting deep passes. His weakness looked like a strength against the Redskins, though.
He was willing to test defenses. Bridgewater looked fearless and free but avoided being reckless. Obviously, the preseason environment allows him to be a little more free and willing to take risks.
Bridgewater did take one huge risk that backfired. He threw an interception in the fourth quarter on a pass he should not have even tried.
The quarterback was feeling confident and wanted to continue testing the defense downfield but made a huge mistake. The receiver that he was targeting was well covered by the cornerback assigned to him and a deep safety was coming from the other side to bracket him. There is no realistic way this pass gets completed unless the receiver makes an incredible play on the ball. If he targets the receiver low, then the corner has a chance to break up or intercept the pass. If he places the ball just in front of him, like he did, then the safety is in prime position to make a play. It was a glaring error in what was otherwise a near perfect night.
New York is set to have three starting caliber quarterbacks on its roster this season, making Bridgewater a perfect trade candidate. He still does have a chance to win the starting role for the Jets but it is unlikely that anyone can keep Darnold on the bench for too long. Whatever team Bridgewater ends up with, it is great to see him get back to form after suffering an injury that almost ended his career.
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