Lost in all the buzz about Sam Darnold’s sizzling preseason debut on Friday night was Teddy Bridgewater’s performance. Bridgewater was a pro’s pro, put up big numbers in the New York Jets 17-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
There is every right for Darnold to grab the headlines based on his first ever game as a professional, who went 13-of-18 for 96 yards and a touchdown. And while the future is undoubtedly in the ‘Samchise’s’ hands, Bridgewater’s showing should not go entirely unnoticed.
Bridgewater, brought in as a free agent this offseason, looked every bit an NFL starter, going 7-of-8 for 85 yards with a first-quarter touchdown against the Falcons’ starting defense.
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He suffered a serious knee injury last year and threw just two passes but didn’t show any rust in his preseason debut.
“I think it’s great for him to get back on the field. It was great for him just to enjoy himself and have some success early,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said. “I know he had a big smile on his face. I’m just happy for him.”
The return of Bridgewater, where he looked sharp and decisive in the pocket, is good news for the Jets. While Darnold looked the part in Friday’s debut, he isn’t necessarily the Week 1 starter as there will be inevitable highs and lows in his progression. The Jets are blessed with two veterans on the roster capable of starting, meaning that Darnold won’t have to be rushed along ahead of schedule.
But Bridgewater looked like a starter and might be a valuable commodity for the Jets if he can piece together another performance or two like the first game of the preseason.
Not only does it let them groom Darnold at a more moderate rate, but Bridgewater’s stock on the potential trade market might soar.
Inevitably, some team somewhere will see a quarterback hurt in preseason or a young quarterback underperform. Bridgewater could emerge as a potential trading chip that could land the Jets a Day 2 pick to help their rebuild.
“You definitely appreciate the situation that you're in. Competition not only makes the team better, but it makes you better as an individual. At the end of the day, it's not about Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Josh McCown, it's about the New York Jets,” Bridgewater said.
“Whoever wants to give us the best chance to win football games. All of us have that mindset that we're going to continue to make each other better every day, we're going to lean on each other. At the end of the day, we have the best interest at heart for this team. We're excited about the room that we're in. Talk about three guys who play in the National Football League, it's a unique situation, and I'm glad to be a part of it.”