The author of one of the season’s most heartwarming stories is humbly taking it all in stride.
From suffering an excruciating ACL injury in 2016 with the Minnesota Vikings to now shining as a fan favorite for the New Orleans Saints (4-1) in Drew Brees’ absence, it’s been quite the journey for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
With their Super Bowl champion quarterback sidelined the last three games due to a thumb injury, the backup has admirably filled the void for the Saints.
Bridgewater has posted a flawless 3-0 mark, guiding the Saints to a road win at the Seattle Seahawks (4-1) and a pair of home victories against the Dallas Cowboys (3-2) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3).
As they ride the Bridgewater wave, the Saints currently sit atop the NFC South standings while their future Hall of Fame quarterback recovers.
Dedication, hard work plus patience ⚜️🏁 pic.twitter.com/bvC59jG0qZ
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 9, 2019
The Saints will attempt to make it four consecutive victories when they travel to face the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) in Week 6.
In the 31-24 victory against the Bucs last Sunday, Bridgewater amassed 314 yards and tied a career-high with four touchdown passes.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 6, 2019
For his heroic efforts, Who Dat Nation relentless serenaded the quarterback with chants of “Teddy” throughout the contest. Saints fans have wholeheartedly embraced Bridgewater with open arms.
“It shows that the fans are buying into him,” Saints receiver Ted Ginn Jr. said. “It shows that the fans are really behind him.”
In his last three starts, Bridgewater has passed for 684 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Against the Bucs, Bridgewater tossed two of his touchdowns to receiver Michael Thomas (11 receptions, 182 yards) and one apiece to Ginn Jr. and tight end Jared Cook. The Saints finished 3-for-4 in the red zone and 8-for-15 on third down attempts.
The Saints superbly set the pace from the onset against their NFC South rivals.
“Last week was definitely our best week establishing tempo. Coach (Payton) mentioned it, just having that tempo from the start. You could feel it all week last week when we were practicing and it transferred over to the game,” Bridgewater said. “We want to try to keep that tempo, keep that momentum going forward, and just keep trying to play fast.”
The modest Bridgewater effusively praised his teammates for successfully guiding the offense.
“It is hard to measure it, but I am just playing the game. I am enjoying it. Living in the moment. I’m confident in doing so. These guys around here, we all feed off of each other and it’s a confident group,” Bridgewater said. “So for me, I step into the huddle and I’m looking to looking into the guys’ eyes and you see those guys exuding that confidence. For me as a player, it’s just like… man, these guys are so confident that I’m going to have to be as confident as those guys.”
Saints coach Sean Payton credited offensive line for freeing up Bridgewater to attack the Bucs defense.
“He got into a rhythm,” Payton said. “I just felt like we did a good job protecting for him. We got the ball down the field more.”
In turn, Bridgewater gave a ton of credit to the coaching staff for his development in the system.
“Those guys, man, they work extremely hard just trying to find different plays and different ways to put us in the best position to win football games. Sean, Joe (Lombardi), Pete (Carmichael), all those guys, man,” Bridgewater said. “They spend numerous hours around here just trying to find different ways. Those guys have been dialed in and they’ve been challenging us to retain the information that they’re giving us and apply it to the football field.”
Meanwhile, Brees was extremely impressed with the vertical attack of the offense under Bridgewater.
“We kicked it up to another level offensively with the explosive plays,” Brees told CST. “…Teddy made some great throws down the field.”
Bridgewater shares the best advice he’s received from Brees, whom he has the utmost respect for.
“Like when I watch Drew play, I feel like he’s so locked in that I don’t want to interrupt his routine and things like that,” Bridgewater said. “Maybe the same thing when I’m playing, but just to have him on the sideline that pair of eyes, that experience, that knowledge, and understanding of the game is huge for me. One thing he has emphasized regardless is that completions are a positive thing and to use them and exploit your matchups.”
The Saints are in complete unison behind Bridgewater as they hold down the fort until Brees’ return.
“I know the pressure that comes after Drew Brees. He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback, one of the best quarterbacks ever,” Saints cornerback Marcus Lattimore said. “To step in and get these consecutive wins, it’s big for Teddy. I’m happy for him.”
While Brees continues to recover, the spotlight will remain squarely cast on Bridgewater.
However, Bridgewater’s confidence is peaking at an all-time high and the whole city is behind him as he aims to keep the momentum rolling heading into Jacksonville.
“We’re all out there competing for one thing and that’s to win football games and we’ve been able to win a couple of football games these past couple of weeks and hopefully we can keep this thing going,” Bridgewater said.