Teddy Bridgewater studied the greats.
As a young quarterback on Louisville's campus, Bridgewater decided he wanted to learn more about playing quarterback. He picked three guys and three offenses, one of which was Drew Brees, to study during the offseason, with the goal of picking up on as many nuances as he could about the quarterbacks and the offenses they run.
When he was traded here on Wednesday, one of the things that excited him most was the opportunity to sit in a room with the architects of this offense and learn about it on an even deeper level.
“To be part of it now and actually be able to learn it inside and out – I’m looking forward to it,” Bridgewater said.
Turn on Bridgewater’s film, and you see traits that make him a natural fit for this offense. There are things the coaching staff would tailor to better suit him if he were to start a game, the same as they would for any quarterback, but he’s clearly a more natural fit than someone like Hill. Bridgewater looks comfortable in the pocket, gets the ball out quickly and throws with accuracy – which are all hallmarks of Brees’ game.
So, what did the Saints like about Bridgewater that made them send a third-round pick to New York for him?
“Good decisions, accurate, smart, can move, can make the first guy miss, he’s a winner, he won in college, he’s won in the NFL,” coach Sean Payton said. “I’ll stop there.”
That’s where we’ll start.
Bridgewater’s first game of the preseason against the Jets was managed about as well as it possibly could have been managed. He took what the defense gave him; his risks calculated. He put the ball in a tight window on a fourth-down attempt, and his only incomplete pass came on a seam route. The pass was a little overthrown, but he recognized his target had an advantage. It was a worthwhile chance.
He showed a little bit more in the second game against the Redskins. Bridgewater slipped out of the pocket to evade pressure and connected on a 13-yard pass while on the move on his first attempt of the game. He then threw a catchable pass deep down the seam that his receiver dropped, and later put a ball on another receiver’s hands about 14 yards down the field on an out route. The receiver dropped it.
Bridgewater’s most impressive sequence came in the fourth quarter. On the first play, he stepped out of a pass rusher’s arms 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and connected with his target near the left sideline for a 13-yard gain. On the next play, he found his receiver on a fade route for a 16-yard touchdown.
His third start against the New York Giants featured more of the same. All of those traits make him a natural fit for this offense. Payton answered the question about Bridgewater’s fit and if it is a natural one bluntly, saying, “I think so.” One of Bridgewater’s former college teammate thinks the same.
"Accuracy's Teddy's thing, being able to put the ball in a place where only his receiver can go get it. I think from that standpoint he fits right in,” defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said. “Drew's masterful when it comes to that. Drew's ability to see the whole field, I think Teddy does that extremely well, and obviously, Teddy has that extra dimension of when things break down, being able to make something out of nothing and give the offense that extra boost."
Everything aside, the football aspect of this trade is an easy win for the Saints. They now have what might be the best quarterback situation in the NFL.
The questions are about what comes next. A third-round pick is a lot to surrender for a player on a one-year deal with no guarantees for the future. There are no answers right now. Bridgewater and the Saints both said it was too soon to discuss the long-term outlook.
So, this is one transaction that is going to require patience before any conclusions are reached. This situation could turn out several different ways. It's unsatisfying, but we have to wait and see what happens next.