Friday night at MetLife Stadium was supposed to be all about New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold’s NFL preseason debut. Another Jets quarterback became the big story.
Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered an awful leg injury just before the 2016 regular season and threw only two NFL passes between then and Friday, looked very good in the Jets’ preseason opener.
Bridgewater completed 7-of-8 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in about a quarter of work. He came in after Josh McCown got a series, and then gave way to Darnold midway through the second quarter.
It might have just been a preseason game, but it was a triumphant return for Bridgewater after there were serious questions about whether he’d be able to continue his career.
Teddy Bridgewater’s first extended playing time since 2016 went well
Technically Bridgewater made his return last season with the Minnesota Vikings, but barely. Bridgewater wasn’t even able to play in the preseason last year. He appeared in one regular-season game, throwing two passes. When Sam Bradford was moderately healthy for the playoffs, the Vikings demoted Bridgewater to their third quarterback, a sign of their concern about where he stood physically.
So when Bridgewater took over for McCown in Friday night’s game, it was by far the most he had played since his horrific leg injury two years ago. It couldn’t have gone much better.
Bridgewater came out dealing. He was in such a comfortable rhythm it looked like he hadn’t missed any time at all. He threw a nice fourth-down pass to Jermaine Kearse, and Kearse made a great catch to extend the drive. Bridgewater hit running back Isaiah Crowell in stride across the middle and Crowell bulled his way into the end zone. That was Bridgewater’s first touchdown, preseason or regular season, in almost two calendar years. The television broadcast showed several of Bridgewater’s Jets teammates coming up to him on the sideline after the touchdown to congratulate him.
Play after play, Bridgewater knew exactly where to go with the ball and delivered it on time. It looked like it was 2015 again.
What’s next for Bridgewater with the Jets?
The Jets didn’t pay much for Bridgewater, relatively speaking. He got a one-year, $6 million deal with just $1 million guaranteed. That modest deal showed that the league was still concerned about Bridgewater’s ability to make it all the way back. But Bridgewater has impressed in Jets camp and played well in his first preseason game.
There are plenty of teams around the NFL who shouldn’t feel too good about their backup quarterback situation. We saw that Thursday night, as 24 NFL teams played preseason games. It’s even arguable that, if Bridgewater’s play on Friday is an indication, a few teams could use Bridgewater as a starter. He is a former first-round pick and had two good seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, after all.
Darnold is the Jets’ future. No matter how well Bridgewater plays in whatever opportunities he has to come with the Jets, that won’t change. New York just spent the third overall pick on Darnold. And with veteran McCown currently holding the No. 1 spot, the Jets could entertain trade offers for Bridgewater. His $6 million deal wouldn’t be too much for a team to take on. Certainly some teams will take a look at the game film from Friday and consider the possibility.
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