The Jets have made former Viking Teddy Bridgewater their newest quarterback.
Bridgewater, who brings intriguing upside to the table as a former first rounder who is still only 25 years old, missed all of 2016 due to injury and threw only 2 passes in 1 game in 2017. So this is a player who has not started since the 2015 playoffs. Nobody knows how Bridgewater has recovered, but we can take a look at where he was as a young NFL quarterback.
Overall career stats: 30 games, 28 starts, 17-11 record, 551-851 (64.7%, 20-34 average per start), 6,150 yards (205.0 per game), 7.2 yards per attempt, 28 touchdowns (3.3%), 22 interceptions (2.6%), 86.3 rating, 398 rushing yards (13.3 per game, 4.2 per attempt), 4 rushing touchdowns.
- Teddy captained the Vikings to a 17-11 record as a starter over his first two years. They had a strong defense, yes, but the 17 wins is tied for the 13th most ever for a quarterback in his first two seasons. Six players in the top 20 of that category are Super Bowl champions.
- Bridgewater’s accuracy was a plus from the start. He completed 64.9% of his passes from 2014 to 2015, 12th best of 30 QBs with at least 500 attempts over those two seasons.
Pro Football Reference tracks passing numbers relative to league average, with 100 being average in any given category in any given season. Bridgewater had a 109 relative completion percentage over his first two seasons. Only 19 QBs have done that in NFL history (minimum 500 attempts); over the past decade, the only others to do it are Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott. The only others with a relative completion percentage that high AND 13+ wins in their first two seasons are Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Ben Roethlisberger, Marc Bulger, Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, and Kurt Warner.
Teddy completed at least 50% of his passes in every one of his first 29 career games, with at least 18 passing attempts in each. It’s tied for the longest such streak to start a career in NFL history, along with Carson Wentz’ active streak of the same length. Peyton Manning (32 games) owns the longest such streak that began in a player’s rookie season.
Another great tidbit on his accuracy from Pro Football Focus:
- Yards per attempt is often considered the best stat for reading a quarterback, and Teddy was above average in that area in each of his first two years, with a career mark of a solid 7.2.
- Teddy has only lost 3 fumbles in his career; 0 in his rookie year, 3 the following year. That’s absurdly low for a starting quarterback, especially one who does mix a fair amount of runs into his game.
- He improved markedly from year one to year two. From 2014 to 2015, he moved up from 37th in DVOA to 22nd while cutting his interception rate a full 1.0%, very strong improvement in that particular stat.
- Bridgewater’s touchdown production is exceptionally low. With only 14 touchdowns in each of his two seasons as a starter, his career touchdown percentage is 3.3%. From 2014 to 2015, he ranked 29th of 30 in TD% among QBs with at least 500 attempts.
Among players with at least 800 career attempts (about his career total), Teddy owns one of the top 20 worst relative TD% rates of all time, along with names like Geno Smith, Blaine Gabbert, Colt McCoy, Brock Osweiler, and Chad Henne.
However, there could be an explanation for this. From 2014 to 2015, the Vikings threw the ball on just 44% of their red zone plays, the highest rate in the NFL. Perhaps he just didn’t get the opportunities to put up touchdowns? His red zone passer rating is about average.
- Can Teddy be more than a game manager? He averaged 29 pass attempts per game over his first two seasons, a very low number. He has thrown 30+ passes in only 13 career games, with his Vikings averaging a measly 19.2 points in those games (6-7 record).
- He has only thrown for more than 2 touchdowns in one game.
The most interesting split I noticed was Bridgewater’s numbers under center versus in the shotgun. 622 of his career attempts have come out of shotgun versus 229 under center, and for good reason. Out of the gun, he has completed 68% of his passes for 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with a 93.4 rating. From under center, he has completed 57% of his passes for 7 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with a 68.0 rating.
Bridgewater has not played for real since January 2016. It will have been over two and a half years since that point when/if he takes the field this preseason. Nobody will have any idea how he has acclimated physically since that last game.
However, I’m a fan of bringing him in. He was a high round pick who came in and was a winning starter in his first two years in the league while showing off some intriguing tools and improving from year one to year two. The man is still only 25 years old. We’ll see how much of his old self is left. If he can return to form, Bridgewater could still have the potential to be a solid starting quarterback on a consistent basis.
Will Teddy Bridgewater finish 2018 as the Jets’ starting quarterback?
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