Broncos: Teddy Bridgewater’s greatest strength has very little to do with his play

Teddy Bridgewater will open the season as the Broncos’ starting quarterback, and GM George Paton is already leaning into his intangibles.

The Denver Broncos feel they have two quarterbacks they could win with, but ultimately chose Teddy Bridgewater to go into the season as the starter over Drew Lock. Nearly exactly five years to the day from a career-altering leg injury, Bridgewater is a great story.

Essentially, the Broncos chose the steadier presence Bridgewater offers over the more erratic Lock. With a roster that otherwise looks very good, steady quarterback play may be all that’s needed to win a lot of games this year.

The Broncos are already leaning into Teddy Bridgewater’s intangibles

Broncos general manager George Paton was in the Minnesota Vikings’ front office for a long time prior to taking the job in Denver. He was, of course, in the Vikings’ front office when they drafted Bridgewater in the first round of the 2014 draft. That surely informed the decision to acquire him as competition for Lock.

During an appearance on 9News in Denver Saturday, here’s what Paton had to say about Bridgewater.

“Teddy’s a winner,” Paton said. “He’s won everywhere he’s been. Obviously, Carolina was a tough spot for him. He’s a winner. He’s poised, he has quite the confidence about him. We have a young offense. I just thought Teddy would fit with this young offense, help stabilize it, and take it to the next level.”

In his most significant action since that injury five years ago, Bridgewater completed just over 69 percent of his passes for 3,733 yards (248.9 yards per game) with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 15 games for the Carolina Panthers last year. It wasn’t all on him, but the Panthers went 4-11 in his starts.

Bridgewater went 5-0 for the New Orleans Saints filling in as the starter for Drew Brees in 2019. He went 11-5 in his only full season as the Vikings’ starter (2015), with what should have been a playoff win if not for a infamous missed field goal by Blair Walsh. He was 6-6 in 12 starts as a rookie for Minnesota in 2014.

Bridgewater is 26-23 as an NFL starter, and 22-12 without 2020 in Carolina for those who want to leave that aside. But the next time he stands out as a primary reason his team won a game, it might be the first time. Even with other mistakes around him, the perception of Bridgewater’s “clutch gene” went away last year. The Panthers lost eight games by one score or less, with a drive to at least tie the game in the second half in all eight.

When production or physical talent can’t be cited, intangibles are the thing to lean into. Vikings’ analysts who still like to heap praise on Bridgewater five years later still like to stand on that leg, with no other leg to stand on comfortably.

Paton didn’t even hide his inability to clearly praise Bridgewater for anything other than being a “winner.” Being named the Week 1 starter is nice cosmetically, and a testament to Bridgewater’s perseverance, but a bet on Lock starting at least five games for the Broncos this season is definitely one to make.

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