- Denver Broncos’ head coach Vic Fangio has named Teddy Bridgewater as the team’s starting quarterback.
- Bridgewater beat out Drew Lock for the starting job in a competition that Fangio characterized as ‘really, really close’.
- Lock started 13 games for Denver in 2020 while Bridgewater played with the Carolina Panthers last year.
Teddy Bridgewater has been announced as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Head coach Vic Fangio gave the official word earlier today after informing Bridgewater and Drew Lock of his decision followed by a team meeting where he informed the rest of the players on the roster. Bridgewater will make his debut as Denver’s starting quarterback on Sunday, September 12 as the Broncos hit the road to face the New York Giants.
Fangio characterized the competition between Lock and Bridgewater as ‘really, really close’ and the ultimate decision to go with Bridgewater as ‘tough’. He had described the battle for the starting QB position as ‘even Steven’ throughout the early days of training camp. As recently as yesterday, he indicated it was ‘really damn close’:
“There wasn’t a lot of separation. Both guys had good camps. They both played well, they both had their down moments, had their good moments. … We just made this decision because it’s best for the team moving forward right now. We have two good quarterbacks, two quarterbacks we can win with.”
“It was really, really close. … We had to make a decision, and we went with Teddy.”
Fangio’s last comment on the competition came the day before the announcement:
“I think it’s close for a good reason. They both have played well. The good news of this competition is we’ve got two quarterbacks that we feel we can go win with.”
Drew Lock was a second round pick of the Broncos in the 2019 draft (42nd overall) after a college career at Missouri. He started 13 games for Denver in 2020 though his development was hampered by the COVID-19 which forced the cancellation of the off-season training and conditioning schedule. That made it difficult for Lock to assimilate offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s designs. He played well at times–he went for four TD passes against the Panthers in December–but had plenty of down moments. He was tied for the league lead in interceptions (15) and had the lowest competition percentage among starting quarterbacks in the NFL (57.3%). The low point of the season might have come off the field–he was required to sit out a November 29 game against the New Orleans Saints. Then again, so was every other quarterback on the Broncos’ roster. Denver was forced to start practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton as quarterback–he got the job because he once played quarterback during his college days at Wake Forest–and he performed like you’d expect en route to a 31-3 loss. Lock demonstrated marked improvement during his preseason outings but ultimately Fangio went with the more consistent Bridgewater.
Fangio explained the nature of quarterback competitions and how they work out one of three ways:
“The first is, one guy plays way better than the other guy, the decision is easy and everybody sees it. Or the other thing is, both guys can play below par and you’re not happy, but you’ve got to make a choice. That didn’t happen either. The third is they both play good and you have to make a tough choice.”
Teddy Bridgewater came into the league with very high expectations and initially lived up to his billing. He was the 32nd overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2014 draft following his college days at Louisville where he was a fixture on sports media highlight reels. He took over immediately as starting quarterback and by 2015 he was playing in Pro Bowl following an 11-5 regular season and a hard fought loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round.
Bridgewater’s meteoric rise to stardom was followed by a shockingly sudden and severe setback. He suffered a torn ACL and would appear in only one game over the next two seasons attempting two passes and completing none. Once considered the future franchise player for the Vikings, they declined his fifth year option after the 2017 season. He signed with the New York Jets in March 2018 but was traded to the New Orleans Saints in August of that year. His career revival with the Saints began slowly. Since he was brought in as a backup to Drew Brees he didn’t get a lot of playing time. He appeared in five games as the 2018 season progressed but his action was limited to taking a knee to close out a game. He finally got a start in the final game of the 2018 season with the Saints having already locked up the top seed in the NFC. He was capable though not spectacular completing 14 of 22 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown, and an interception as the Saints lost 33–14.
The Saints clearly valued him as an ‘insurance policy’ to back up Brees and in March 2019 he signed a one year fully guaranteed contract worth $7.25 million USD. Brees missed some time early in the season due to a thumb injury and Bridgewater played well, finishing with a solid 99.1 QB rating. His performance was impressive enough that he would sign a three year, $63 million USD deal with the Carolina Panthers in the off-season. He started 15 games for a decidedly mediocre team that would finish 5-11. Bridgewater completed 69.1% of his passes for 3,733 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while adding 5 rushing TD’s.
Unfortunately, he’d once again be looking for a job in the off-season due to a personnel chain reaction beyond his control. The New York Jets decided to move on from Sam Darnold and selected BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the 2nd overall pick in the draft. The Panthers decided to bring in Darnold, sending a 2021 sixth-round pick and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022 to the Jets. They then sent Bridgewater to Denver for a sixth round pick which set up the competition with incumbent starter Lock.
Bridgewater is an easy guy to like–New Orleans kept him as the highest paid backup in the NFL due as much to his work ethic, attitude and locker room presence as his considerable athletic ability. His ‘intangibles’ plus his tenacity navigating the highs and lows of playing quarterback in the NFL has endeared him to teammates and earned respect around the league. Immediately after being named starter his first comments addressed his responsibility to help Lock continue to improve as a quarterback and grow as a player along with how much he’s enjoyed getting to know and work with him. He then made it all about the team:
“I’m hungry as well — this entire team is hungry. We know the talent that we have here, we know what’s in store for us, but we can’t sit here and talk about it, we have to go out and put in the work every day.”
Bridgewater is a class act and hopefully he’ll be able to transcend his bumbling coach–Fangio is regarded as one of the worst in the NFL. In BetOnline.ag’s ‘First Coach to Be Fired’ odds Fangio is a +500 favorite. That could be Bridgewater’s biggest potential challenge which is why he’s way down the list of ‘Offensive Player of the Year’ betting interests priced at +8000. The Broncos’ regular season win total is set at 8.5 OV -125 and if Bridgewater can help the team exceed that he could be wearing the orange and navy uniform for awhile.