FanPost

An In-depth Look Into Teddy Bridgewater

Many good athletes that have created a strong season of hype have chosen to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. Among them is the highly touted Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater enters this draft class as one of the top-notch players and is looking to set the stage with a top 15 draft selection come this May. Here’s a deeper look into the character of Teddy Bridgewater.

An eighth grade athlete whose world would soon come to a halt, Teddy Bridgewater showed promise to be a star on the high school football team. He had lived in the Liberty City section of Miami, where he and his mom had grown close, especially through sports. She had always been there for his games and cheered him on to be the best he could be. Teddy grew to love sports and became a potential star at the next level.

But one day, his mom got the news that she would now be battling breast cancer. When Teddy heard about it, he was shocked. He didn’t know what to think, and started believing his mother wouldn’t live. By the start of the next year (freshman year), Teddy had lost interest in sports and began to feel pressure to have to support her - so he wanted to get a job. When he told his mother his plan, she said that God had given him a gift and that he had to take advantage of this gift by continuing sports. He saw the courage his mother had and the belief she possessed that she would make it.

Teddy then signed on to the high school football team. He saw his mother battle through her "giant", as she referred to it, and saw the courage and strength she showed through it. Throughout his season, Teddy’s mom made an appearance to every game, whether she could make it to only a part of it or the whole thing. He saw how she handled the adversity, and then encouraged himself to play strong.

After two seasons, Teddy had been one of the nation’s best offensive player. His mother had finished radiation and chemo, and he began getting looks from colleges. By the time he finished high school, Teddy was on his way to be the first person in his family to ever go to college. He chose Louisville, where he would apply the life lessons he learned from his mother, and then began his tough journey through three seasons of college football.

In 2011, Bridgewater was a freshman backup quarterback for Louisville. In the fourth game of the year, Bridgewater made his first start, in which he threw for 221 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, and added on a rushing touchdown. He would go on to start the rest of the season, in which he averaged nearly 199 yards/game. He also added on eleven touchdowns and nine interceptions, with an additional three rushing touchdowns. But Bridgewater was poised to have a great season in his upcoming year.

Bridgewater’s sophomore season brought a whole new set of circumstances. Teddy was given a high leadership role to command his Louisville offense - and he was determined to succeed. He opened the season against Kentucky where he went 19-for-21 with 232 yards and no touchdowns. Bridgewater would then continue to a nine- game win streak in which he would average 270 yards/game with an 18/4 TD/INT ratio. Afterwards, Louisville would lose two straight games to Syracuse and Connecticut. Bridgewater threw for 755 yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions with a 65% completion percentage in the two games.

With one game remaining, Louisville’s top-notch bowl game chances were in jeopardy. Bridgewater suffered injuries with a fractured wrist and only one fully-functional ankle. But Teddy showed the strength he had once seen in his mother, and played through the entire Rutgers game. It was obvious he was banged up from the way he walked and moved around, but he kept his head up and encouraged his teammates to play a good game. Louisville would go on to win the game 20-17, and Bridgewater went 20-for-28 with 263 yards, two TD’s, and an INT. After the game, his coach went up and hugged him in the hallway near the locker room. He expressed how thankful he was that Teddy played through the entire game because his team needed him.

Bridgewater then had time off to recover from his injuries before bowl season. Scouts were very impressed with his team spirit, and many expected him to come away with a big game in the Sugar Bowl. There, he would face the 11-2 Florida Gators who had the high-flying Matt Elam and Jon Bostic. Bridgewater played a great game with 266 yards after going 20-for-32 with two TD’s and a pick, and ultimately led his team to victory. The star quarterback who was then considered to be one of the best in the nation just finished off a strong season with a Sugar Bowl victory. He ended with 3,718 passing yards, 27 TD’s, 8 INT’s, and a 68.5 comp. %.

And then came 2013. Bridgewater knew a good season would bring about a definite exit out of college and into the NFL. He knew his responsibilities and how much each game would cost him in terms of draft stock. But with all that pushed to the back of his mind, Teddy was set to come up with yet another great season. He would show sudden improvement in playbook knowledge and overall decision-making, and he would try his best to be playing at his highest level throughout the entire season. And then came game one...

Week 1 - Ohio @ Louisville - Home Opener

Bridgewater was ready. He stepped under center for the first time after his team had received the ball first. The snap, the drop-back, then the fake hand-off. Teddy stepped back, planted his feet, looked to his left and released a bullet to Damian Copeland for a 17-yard gain. The rest of the drive was similar, and it ended with a touchdown pass to a wide-open man after Teddy ran a bootleg. Bridgewater would then go 9-for-9 before his first incompletion. He made one mistake that resulted in a pick, but other than that, Bridgewater played a great game. He ended with 5 TD’s, one pick, and 355 yards after going 23-for-28 for an 82.1 comp. %. Louisville would go on to win the game 49-7.

Week 2 - Eastern Kentucky @ Louisville

Bridgewater started out going five-for-five with some nice passes and a touchdown. His second drive brought about two incompletions and a three-and-out after being backed up to his own end zone. He would then go three-for-three with a jump-ball touchdown pass on his next journey to the field. The second quarter was worse as he had multiple incompletions and a pass that should have been picked off. He made some bad throws, but ultimately played a good game. He went 23-for-32 (71.9%) with 4 TD’s, 397 yards and no picks.

Week 3 - Louisville @ Kentucky - First Road Game

This was probably Bridgewater’s worst game. He started out with an incompletion, a throw-away, and a bad pass/miscommunication. Teddy had a few good passes with a nice run on his next few drives, but one of them ended with a fumble by the receiver. The Kentucky defense basically took over. The pressure they put on Bridgewater was pretty intense. Teddy did have a touchdown that was more impressive on the receiver’s part than anything else. He just didn’t look like his normal self. He ended with 250 yards, a TD, a 57.1 comp.% and no picks.

Weeks 4 - 5 - FIU @ Louisville; Louisville @ Temple

Bridgewater would walk away from these two games with a big win in each. The first (vs. FIU) resulted in a 72-0 win, in which Teddy played a very good game with solid decision making. He finished with 212 yards, 4 TD’s, no picks, and a 77.3 comp. % after going 17-for-22. In the second game (at Temple), Teddy played a great game. The team would end up winning 30-7, and Bridgewater threw for 348 yards, 2 TD’s, no picks, and went 25-for-35 (71.4%).

Week 6 - Rutgers @ Louisville - Prime-time Home Game

Bridgewater tore it up on the first drive. He kept getting completion after completion, and on one play he ran a bootleg and tossed the ball forward for a nice gain. Bridgewater would continue this trend, making great decisions and just plain-out beating the Rutgers’ defense. He threw a touchdown early on, but just before halftime he overthrew his man in double coverage on a deep route that resulted in a pick in the end zone. He would end the game with 310 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT, and a 67.7 comp. % after going 21-for-31.

Week 7 - UCF @ Louisville

Bridgewater started out 7-for-8 with a beautiful touchdown pass. He ended the half 17-for-20 with two touchdowns, showing tremendous decision making and game control. In the end, he played a good game - he limited his mistakes, but took his chances; showed good decision-making, and played well when given the opportunity. However, Louisville couldn’t pull it off in the end, and lost the game 35-38. Bridgewater had 341 yards, 2 TD’s, no picks, and went 29-for-38 (76.3%).

Week 8 - Louisville @ USF

Bridgewater started well again. He finished his first drive with a pretty-looking touchdown pass into the end zone right on stride. He would go on to play another strong game with no picks. His overall decision making was good and he didn’t take too many chances. He ended with 344 yards, 3 TD’s, and an 86.2 comp. % as he went 25-for-29.

Week 9 - Louisville @ Connecticut

Bridgewater played very well just as usual. He had a pick toward the end of it, but threw some good passes and made good decisions. His receivers kept dropping passes though, and on a fourth down attempt, he threw a good pass to an open guy who just clearly dropped it - and Bridgewater showed his frustration. He ended with 288 yards, one TD, a pick, and a 56.8 comp. % after going just 21-for-37. Louisville would end up winning, though.

Weeks 10 - 11 - Houston @ Louisville; Memphis @ Louisville

In the first game (vs. Houston) Teddy played very well - better than his stats showed at least. He had his usual performance - good passes, good game control, and good decision-making. He had a beautiful pass that went to Parker, and he almost got a touchdown, but he stepped out of bounds just before he got there. Bridgewater would end up with no touchdowns, only 203 yards, and 65.5 comp. % (19-for-29). In the other game (vs. Memphis), Teddy threw for 220 yards and a TD with a 72.2 comp. % after going 26-for-36. The team would win both games.

Week 12 - Louisville @ Cincinnati - Last Game

Bridgewater’s first drive started with him breaking out a run, and ended with him throwing a touchdown pass. He would go on to play very well after that. He had a pick that resulted from the receiver slipping, and he overthrew a man on a deep route, but he did have an amazing touchdown pass under pressure while being practically blinded. His stats for the game were 255 yards, 3 TD’s, 1 INT, and a 62.2 comp. % after going 23-for-37.

Bowl season was now underway. Again, Bridgewater had time off to prepare and get physically recovered. He would be preparing to face the Miami Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl. By the time the game arrived, Bridgewater was ready to go in and show Miami what he had. This would be his last college game ever.

Bowl Game - Louisville vs. Miami (FL) - Russell Athletic Bowl

The first play started out badly - a safety. Next drive, Bridgewater rolled out and threw a nice pass to Parker near the left sideline. He finished that drive going 4-of-5 but couldn’t score a TD. He then went on to have some nice drives with nice passes. He threw one touchdown to Parker that showed his true faith in him, because he lobbed it into one-on-one coverage. Then he had a beautiful pass where he scrambled, ran around, and dropped a perfect pass into really tight coverage. Then he threw another beautiful pass - this one resulted in a touchdown. Those were probably two of Bridgewater’s best throws of the season. Then he put together a beautiful drive with a really nice deep pass where the receiver stepped out of bounds for an incompletion. Bridgewater then had a really nice drive that ended with him running a touchdown. He showed his strength and resistance where he put up good fights against potential tackles. This was most likely Bridgewater’s best game of the season. He ended the game with 447 yards, 3 TD’s, no picks, and went 35-for-45 (77.8%)

After finishing off a strong season on a high note, Bridgewater opted to leave Louisville and join the 2014 NFL Draft. It was a no brainer decision because at this point, Bridgewater was the highest rated quarterback coming out. Most even thought he’d be the number one pick in the draft, held by the quarterback-needy Houston Texans. But some mixed opinions got even more mixed after the NFL Combine and his pro day. Here’s a brief run-down the events that took place during this time:

-- 2014 NFL Combine (Late February)

Bridgewater decided not to throw, and ended up sitting on the sidelines for most of the drills. But his trip to Indy wasn’t necessarily a waste. He still got his official measurements in, and he also got in some interviews and was able to talk to scouts. Bridgewater weighed in at 214 lbs (9 lbs heavier since the end of the season), and got his height put in at 6’2’’. He also chose not to run at the combine.

--Louisville Pro Day (Mid-March)

This day for Bridgewater was bigger than the combine was, mainly because he didn’t throw there, and this was the one time scouts could all get together and watch Teddy throw in a single setting. Bridgewater had 29 teams watching him. First of all, he dropped to 208 lbs. Then, he ran an unofficial 4.78 40-yard dash, and then decided not to run a second time. Then it was time for him to throw. He went 57-of his-65 passes, and had two drops by his wideouts. That marked the end of his pro day, and mixed emotions/opinions were out there.

The time between the combine and his pro day found Bridgewater sliding down boards. It was more the fact that QB Blake Bortles of UCF was climbing boards - all the way up to the Texans. An inside source of Houston said that Bortles would have been their pick at number one if the draft was held that day. The pro day for Bridgewater was no better. Bridgewater was criticized for a poor performance. This was expounded on more after Blake Bortles had his pro day two days later and made a big impression. But some people didn’t take any of this to heart, and kept Bridgewater as their number one quarterback.

And this is where we are. Differences of opinion are more real than ever as we push day one of the draft. You have one group of people who believe Bridgewater is overrated. Then you have the other side that believes he’s the best QB out there and is deserving of a high draft pick. Opinions are opinions and they’re almost impossible to change, but some things we can at least evaluate - and that’s what I want to touch base on. So I’m going to go through some things that are important traits that make up a QB and then show what people are saying about Bridgewater in that area.

Stats:

Career Passing Stats

Year

Team

G

Cmp

Att

Comp %

Yds

Yd/A

TDs

Int

Sacked

Yds

2011

Lou

13

191

296

64.5

2129

7.2

14

12

33

181

2012

Lou

13

287

419

68.5

3718

8.9

27

8

29

215

2013

Lou

13

303

427

71.0

3970

9.3

31

4

23

174

Career

39

781

1142

68.4

9817

8.6

72

24

85

570

Bridgewater’s stats are not debated as much, but some argument can still be made out of them. One thing I hear coming from his haters is that TD/INT ratio is non-essential when projecting into the NFL. Well, if Teddy had 31 TD’s and 20 INT’s, I’m sure that would be worded different. Something like "TD/INT ratio is one of the most important things for a QB coming out of college". I’m not here to criticize those people, I’m just saying that Bridgewater’s TD/INT ratio does matter, because it shows the type of player he is - a pocket-passing, smart decision-maker who limits his risky throws in games. It’s really a hard topic to debate on, because Bridgewater’s stats were impressive. He even showed better stats than the former first overall pick Andrew Luck out of Stanford in 2011.

The other thing I hear is that Bridgewater played in a weak conference - the ACC. This is true. He didn’t see much competition throughout his college career. Now, someone trying to defend Bridgewater would say that he won his out-of-conference bowl games in 2012 and 2013, and he put up good numbers in both. But those opposite of that argument say that even with weak competition, Bridgewater still barely pulled out some games, plus he lost one to UCF.

Now, Bridgewater’s defenders say that Bridgewater may have been in a weak conference, but Blake Bortles was in the same one, and if you’re going to put Bridgewater down for that, you have to do the same for Bortles. But the comeback there is a simple truth - Bridgewater had better pieces around him. Bridgewater had a great coaching staff with a great organization in Louisville. He had a really good receiver and some other ones that were also good with nice after-the-catch ability. Plus Louisville was a more run-oriented team than most, not to mention a good defense Bridgewater had. So it’s not really a big argument because Bridgewater was on a good team in a weak conference, so his success can be credited by more than just himself; it can be credited by his team and his organization.

Measurables:

At the combine, Bridgewater measured in at 6’2’’, 214 lbs, and had 9 and 1/4 inch hands. Bridgewater then went down to 208 lbs at his pro day, and finished with a 4.78 40-yd dash. The big concern people have with him is his size - his not big. He tried to bulk up and got up to 214 lbs, but he couldn’t maintain that weight by the time his pro day came around, showing that Bridgewater isn’t going to get any bigger. The reason people put so much emphasis on size is for two reasons - the success they’ve seen come out of good size (Andrew Luck, Big Ben, etc) and the extra strength and toughness it adds to a player. But Bridgewater doesn’t need size. Starting with the first thing, Bridgewater isn’t the Andrew Luck/Big Ben type player. He’s a pocket-passer, and you don’t need size to be a pocket-passer - you need an arm and a brain. Second thing, people forget how tough Bridgewater already is. The game against Rutgers where he played through the entire game with a fractured wrist and a messed up ankle is a perfect example. Bridgewater is a tough guy with average size for a pocket-passer.

Then his speed is decent too. For a pocket-passing QB, Bridgewater actually possesses very good speed that enables him to be an effective scrambler and even break out a run if he needs to, which he has done many times throughout his college career.

Probably the worst thing I’ve heard as a knock against Bridgewater’s physical traits is his hand size. It’s a dumb argument so I won’t get into it too deeply, but Bridgewater’s hands are not too small. If they were too small, so are Bortles’ hands. This isn’t a big deal, and just because he may have small hands doesn’t mean he’ll have a fumbling problem.

Skill Set:

Leadership:

First thing first, Teddy is a leader. He’s vocal, he knows how to rally his team up, and he’s a good role model. He’s smart, he can call audibles, and he’s good at reading defenses, all pointing toward the fact that Bridgewater is a leader. Now, although his mental and vocal side is there, that doesn’t mean Bridgewater is flawless. There are some things he needs to touch up on before he can lead an NFL team effectively.

Accuracy:

Off that note, Bridgewater’s accuracy is interesting. It’s what the lovers and haters both like to use to their own advantage. Starting with short accuracy, Bridgewater is good at throwing short passes. He almost never misses on them, and he always leads his target, allowing them to maintain their current speed during the catch. He is definitely good at throwing short passes and screens. His mid accuracy is also good. When throwing to players who are standing still, Bridgewater shows good timing and ball placement. When throwing to those who are running, he tends to be a little more inconsistent. He’s good at throwing it into good spots where the receiver won’t have to break his stride, but sometimes Bridgewater misses his target. This is probably one of those things that makes scouts think again when considering Bridgewater’s arm talent. He shows some inconsistency in that area, but it’s not a lot, and other than that, he has good short and mid accuracy.

However, Bridgewater struggles greatly with his deep ball. He usually overthrows his target. Some defending Bridgewater will say that it’s better to be safe than sorry, meaning that an overthrow is better than an under-throw, so to say, that can potentially result in a pick. But that doesn’t justify his lack of good deep ball placement. Plus, Bridgewater once overthrew his man who was in double coverage and it resulted in a pick by the safety. So this is definitely something Bridgewater needs to work on. His two problems with accuracy are minor inconsistencies in mid-range throws and poor deep ball placement.

Going to his on-the-run accuracy, Bridgewater is actually pretty good. He keeps his head up and constantly looks down field when scrambling. He does a good job of getting the ball where it needs to go and making sure that it makes it to his man with good timing and placement.

Decision-making:

Bridgewater shines in this area. Most GM’s prefer a QB who limits his mistakes but also takes some chances. Bridgewater fits this mold perfctly. He only had four interceptions last year. There were some passes he had that should’ve been picked off, but he did a pretty good job of making good decisions and limiting those plays. He even went a little over board and took the easy throw-out-of-bounds rather than forcing a pass. But if Bridgewater thinks he can make a throw, he’s not shy to throw it there. He has a good arm with great zip to fire it, and he does a good job of noticing his man when he’s on the run.

Under pressure:

Bridgewater had a game in 2013 against Kentucky where he just couldn’t beat the pressure. The defense was blitzing him like crazy and he couldn’t shake it. Bridgewater was able to use his athleticism as much as possible, but he couldn’t beat all of them. He eventually got back to his normal self, at least for the most part, and showed better ability to handle the pressure. This is one of those things that teams are going to watch out for, because if they’re a top ten team looking for a franchise changer, they need a guy who can handle the pressure, and Bridgewater isn’t the greatest at handling it.

However, if you’re talking about game pressure, or big game situations, Bridgewater is good at that. He played in three bowl games throughout his college career and won all three, playing very well in each. He couldn’t pull off the prime-time win against UCF, but there really wasn’t much he could have done - UCF just outplayed Louisville. Bridgewater is good in big-game situations, but when he’s under blitzing pressure, he struggles.

The Spin:

Basically Bridgewater is a good player with pros and cons. Here’s a basic list of the pros and cons I’ve gathered after watching a lot of tape on him and hearing what other people say:

Pros:

Leadership

Short to mid-range accuracy

Stats

Decision-making

Scrambling-ability

Cons:

Size (minor problem)

Inconsistent accuracy

Bad deep accuracy

Bad under pressure

Bridgewater has been sliding down boards like crazy, but some mock drafts still have him going high. It’s hard to tell what will happen in the future with Bridgewater, but mock drafts are sure hard to follow.

My personal opinion on Bridgewater is this: he’s a good quarterback who can help lead an NFL team to the playoffs and even further - But he has a lot to work on, all starting with his accuracy issues. I think that if he is drafted by the right team, he will succeed. In other words, I think that if he’s drafted by the Texans or a team that’s similar with good pieces around them, Bridgewater will be great. But if he’s drafted by a bad team, he’ll be mediocre. I think his ceiling is Matt Ryan level, and his floor is Ryan Tannehill. When it comes to him getting drafted, there’s no way he slips out of the top ten. I also doubt he’ll slide outside the top five. My personal opinion is that he will be the first pick, but it’s too early to tell.

Please follow me on twitter @brettwaltersnfl. Thanks for reading!

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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