We all need to pump our brakes a little bit here as far as the New York Jets quarterback situation goes. Here are the top three reasons why Gang Green should start Teddy Bridgewater for Week 1 of the regular season.
Anticipation, expectations, and overreaction all met during and after the New York Jets preseason-opening win against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday. The highly talked about quarterback situation was finally on display, and both Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater didn’t disappoint.
Of course, we shouldn’t overlook veteran gunslinger Josh McCown, as he finished the game with one completion for four yards. However, in all practical sense, this battle is solely between the rookie from USC, and the veteran coming off a dramatic injury.
Bridgewater came out firing right away. He went 7/8 for 85 yards and a passing touchdown. He looked poised in the pocket, showed confidence in his throws and footwork, and looked healthy.
Darnold followed up Bridgewater with an eye-popping performance of his own. He got more reps than Bridgewater, which can be seen with his 96 yards on 13/18 with one touchdown. The rookie’s only noticeable negative was his dancing feet within the pocket.
So, the quarterback battle has officially started. But, let’s take a look at the top three reasons why Bridgewater should be under center when the Jets open up the season in Detroit.
3. Ride him while he’s hot
You can say that preseason is a wash as far as wins, losses, and overall stats go. But, you cannot override the eye test.
Meaning, the biggest takeaway from Bridgewater’s play was not the fact he completed a high percentage of passes and threw for a score. Rather, the biggest takeaway and reason to be optimistic was the fact he looked confident and healthy.
Of course, you can look at the stats as a secondary form of evaluation, just not as the primary factor in understanding a player’s preseason play. The 25-year old simply looked the part, which could help him build confidence to carry his hot hand through the preseason.
If Bridgewater continues to play well and confident, then the Jets should name him the Week 1 starter. Riding the hot hand can sometimes backfire, but the Jets would benefit from starting a hot Bridgewater in this situation.
Next: 2. An inclination to perform
2. An inclination to perform
No, this is not a knock on Darnold, because it goes without saying that the rookie has a reason to want to go out and perform. This second point is directly referencing Bridgewater’s contract.
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When the Jets and Bridgewater inked his one-year deal, it featured many incentives that could raise his salary drastically. Therefore, if Darnold doesn’t seem ready, then the Jets know they can plug in Bridgewater and still have a quarterback capable and willing to get the team a win.
Sometimes teams will back their rookie quarterbacks with NFL journeymen or aging veterans who aren’t capable of putting the team in a position to win. Sometimes these players are simply just trying to collect another check before retiring too.
Head coach Todd Bowles and his staff shouldn’t lose too much sleep over the idea of Darnold not being ready because Bridgewater is not in a position to compromise the team’s success. Bridgewater will look to play to his best ability to reach his current contract incentives, as well as play for a bigger contract when this one is up.
Next: 1. Trade value
1. Trade value
Trade value and speculation is perhaps the most talked about topic when Bridgewater’s name is discussed. This is because it seems as though the most ideal situation for Gang Green would be to have Bridgewater get traded and have Darnold take the number one job.
But, here’s the thing: no team will step up to trade for Bridgewater right now. He must continue to show he is healthy before teams come knocking.
So, having Bridgewater play Week 1 seems to be the best way for that to happen. Preseason is one thing, but his value will shoot up if he can show he still has the ability to play at a high level against NFL starters.
It would be beneficial to both sides to have Bridgewater as the team’s Week 1 starter. He will want to prove critics wrong, while the Jets want to try and appease potential trade partners.