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Give Teddy Bridgewater a Chance
Theodore E. Bridgewater
The current article is a challenge issued by @laketwoqbs in his tweet to make a case for Teddy Bridgewater as a sneaky QB-2 pick. Give Teddy a Chance
Teddy Bridgewater is coming into his 3rd year in the NFL. Depending on who you talk to, Teddy is either lauded for his high football intelligence and sound decision making ability (as well as his gloves) on the field by NFL coaches and fans or he is met with apathy for his mediocre statistics by fantasy owners. Indeed, after two seasons of NFL play Teddy methodically found ways to win with his above average accuracy. However, his statistics are well below the average number of a starting QB. Compared to his rookie season, Teddy clearly took steps forward in every facet of his game, including winning the NFC North division and setting up his team for a potential game winning field goal versus the surging Seahawks. Yet, the casual fantasy owners are still debating whether he’s even worth drafting as a backup/bye-week replacement. Streaming QB has become the new rage, and owners would (and quite frankly should) rather take a chance on a player with a better matchup when their primary QB is on bye or injured, then take the 12-15 points per week that Steady Teddy gave.
Teddy Bridgewater may just have become one of the quietest polarizing player of the fantasy landscape. If you haven’t noticed it, in the first paragraph this polarizing was demonstrated as each positive sentence about Teddy, was countered by a detracting statement. It seems almost unthinkable for a fantasy owner to consider Teddy a bad fantasy option when his narrative is filled with words such as “smart QB, good decision-making, and accurate”. Aren’t these supposed to be buzz words about an exciting player? Isn’t accurate and smart the two component to an upper echelon QB?
We have come to a point, a pivotal one if you will, where the 2-QB community asks the question: “Is Teddy even a viable QB2 in a 2-QB/Superflex league?”. In undertaking this challenge to answer the question, I dug into some statistics, some interesting conversations, and a few 2015 game films.
Through two seasons, these are the numbers that Teddy put up. His first year was close to a trial by fire as you can get, when you consider that the team lost Adrian Peterson after week one, and the team’s best WR was an aging Greg Jennings, a never healthy Kyle Rudolph, and a post-ACL recovered UDFA Charles Johnson. His supplemental targets in Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata were instrumental in keeping Teddy healthily surrounded with decent, but still subpar receiving options.
In his second year Teddy, clearly took steps forward in all facets in terms of stats, with the exception of TD, which was the same. However, it was still far from a week to week starter worthy in a 1-QB league. In fact, many owners had expected Teddy to put up mid-high QB2 numbers on a weekly basis, but steady Teddy just didn’t give you many game-winning week-to-week fantasy points. As a Teddy owner myself, I can give you firsthand testament that I had to cut Teddy by week 4, and resorted to streaming QBs last year in redraft (Thanks @LivingtheStreamFF). Even the QBs that finished behind Teddy, gave you more upside on a matchup-basis.
But! That is not to mean that I am avoiding Teddy. Instead, I want to show you why I have hope for optimism. Below I selected some comparable QBs and tracked their growth from year 1 – 3, with the exception of Alex Smith.
“Comparable Starting QBs”
*Due to injuries, add’l games were added to get a better sense of his average
Alex Smith has been the consistent pro comp for Teddy Bridgewater. Statistically, we could potentially be staring at Teddy’s ceiling. The one area that Alex Smith has over Teddy, and a pretty significant one, Alex is capable of running once in a while, which elevates his fantasy floor. Teddy does not have that, thus lags slightly behind. Yet, as a passer, these are some numbers I think Teddy can exceed quite easily. Stylistically, they are both check-down heavy passers rather than trying to push the envelope. Steady Teddy is already a more efficient passer. and short of an injury, we expect some progression.
When you think of comparable, Flacco is probably not the first pro comp you think of. JoElite is a howitzer of an arm., which sets him far and away apart from Steady Teddy. But I chose Joe Flacco, because his first three years he was in an incredibly slow paced and conservative offense. The surrounding cast of players were also comparable, as the team was carried by the tandem of Willis McGahee and Ray Rice and the best WR Joe had in his first three years was an aging Derrick Mason and a never healthy Todd Heap, up until year 3 when the team finally brought in Anquan Boldin. As you can see that didn’t deter Flacco from taking steps forward every single year. While still not eye popping numbers, it is a trend that QBs do progress, despite coaches and surrounding talents
Mark Sanchez may be your strawman comp for a QB who floated around mediocrity in his first three years, while playing under a HC who don’t give two rats tail about the offense. Even for Mr. headdband (you thought I was going to say buttfumble, didn’t you? Dammit you made me say it) there is still progress as his stats showed a bump in yards, a jump in TD. And let’s face it, the INT is all over the place just like Mark’s accuracy and priorities.
While discussing the label “game manager”, I’ve always thought that Andy Dalton fell under that category. Specifically, Andy Dalton of year 1-3, earned the label game manager, mainly I think when you watch his game, he doesn’t carry a strong arm. In fact, I think his arm strength is very comparable to Teddy’s. Dalton does have weapons, and it is because of these weapons he made a drastic jump from year 1 to year 2 to an astounding jump in year 3. Can we hope that Teddy experience this kind of jump? Conservatively, I will say no, but the Vikings are beginning to try everything they can to surround Teddy with real weapons (not some schlub whose name rhymes with Mehtterson)
Finally, Ryan Tannehill was selected as a comp base on looking at recent trends of starting QB growths in the first 3 years, in the same era of Teddy. Ryan Tannehill also doesn’t possess a strong arm and was surrounded by inconsistent talents up until now. His passing attempts were also astoundingly absurd. Despite the incompetence of the organization in constructing consistency and generating success, Tannehill’s statistics did see a progression from year to year in his first 3 years.
Based solely on statistics, which should be taken with extreme caution as it hides context, Teddy Bridgewater should see a jump in stats. Mix in his efficiency as a passer, I wouldn’t expect him to be hurting even if they increase his volume. But that is exactly the issue right now for Teddy: Volume. The Vikings offense is still a slow pace, clock-control, AP-oriented offense. The Vikings philosophy is one where they are comfortable winning through field goals and plugging away at 4 yards per carry. A jump to 520+ passing attempt seems unlikely. Yet, if JoElite’s coaching staff carried the same philosophy with a similar inexperienced/run heavy personnel, why not Steady Teddy? (this nickname is growing on me).
Taking steps forward
So far I made a case that statistical progression is a real possibility. Now I will briefly talk about my take on Teddy away from statistics. Look at your list of what’s needed to be a good QB in the NFL with job security, and check off what you already find in Teddy.
- Intelligence *check*
- Sound Decision Making *check*
- Job security *check*
- Weapons *check*
So, what is left that will move him from being a bottom top 24 QB to even just a suitable QB2 for your squad? For one, Teddy’s is largely an afterthought even in 2QB leagues. He’ll most likely be taken after guys like Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota, and maybe even Jay Cutler. Second, coaches are already asking Teddy to be more assertive in 2016. These are two of the best reasons for me to believe that Teddy is worth considering as your sneaky 2nd QB in a 2QB/Superflex league