The Jets Should Start Teddy Bridgewater in 2018
Writer: Caleb Akpan
Teddy Bridgewater is already creating the feel-good story of the year in preseason for NFL fans, but he’s also creating an absolute headache for the New York Jets as a team.
In his first serious action since a torn ACL kept him out for all of 2016, Bridgewater has looked excellent during preseason with the Jets. So far, the 2014 rookie of the year is 17 of 23 on pass attempts for a 73.9% completion rate along with two touchdowns, an average of 9.2 yards per pass attempt, and a 113.0 passer rating. His incompletions have been good looks, his mobility makes the ACL tear look like it never happened, and at times he’s been on the field with guys who won’t even make the team.
Number three pick Sam Darnold hasn’t looked terrible, but in comparison to Bridgewater he seems to be the Jets second-best QB to start the season. The rookie is 21 for 29 on his pass attempts, for 72.4% completion rate, not so far off from his competition, but it’s the 158 yards and 5.4 yards per attempt that make Darnold’s numbers sour a bit. The USC product isn’t getting the ball that far downfield on his drives, and the Jets have just one touchdown that could be credited to the young play caller’s efforts.
Rumor has it that the Jets would prefer to use Bridgewater as trade bait, but there doesn't seem to be anyone that would bite right now, even with the quarterback’s solid performance. Just about every team has their franchise QB or a young player that they hope will be that one day, much like the Jets themselves. In addition, no team has suffered a major injury at the position during preseason that would make them consider upgrading their backups. It would seem smarter for the Jets to continue to let Bridgewater play until that happens, boosting his value and potentially getting a better offer from a team in desperate need of a solid signal-caller.
In addition, New York shouldn’t be in a rush to put Darnold out on the field. The Cleveland Browns aren’t rushing things with their young quarterback, and they drafted Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield first overall over Darnold in this year’s draft. Like the Browns with Mayfield, the Jets have a solid veteran quarterback, one that the team should be able to win with just as much or more than they would putting a rookie on the field from the get-go.
Darnold and Mayfield are both obviously their teams’ futures, but for first-year players still learning the ways of the NFL, it shouldn’t hurt to leave them on the sidelines in favor of capable veterans. For Bridgewater in particular, he’s proven in preseason that his abilities haven’t faltered, if anything, they may have even gotten better. Darnold’s potential is sky-high, but some extra time to develop should only help him reach that sooner once he does get on the field.
Sometimes with a young quarterback, patience is the key to success, and patience for the Jets may mean not trading Teddy Bridgewater at all and not seeing Sam Darnold take many snaps in 2018. Over a decade ago, the Green Bay Packers did the same thing with a quarterback they drafted in the first round, and for multiple seasons at that, but now they have a Super Bowl and years of success to thank for it. The Jets situation may be a bit different now, but the same end result isn’t out of the question if they play their cards right, starting with their looming starting quarterback decision.