The New Orleans Saints got a surprise on Wednesday when they sent a third round to the New York Jets in 2019 in exchange for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and in 2019 in the sixth round. In addition to improving the Saints' QB2 point, this move also gives Sean Payton a young signal caller who will feed on Drew Bree's successor.
Against This Background There are Three Reasons for Bridgewater Trading A Big Step for the Saints:
1) Bridgewater gives the Saints a solid QB2 with long-term QB1 potential.
The Saints have been looking for a QB2 for years with the talent and potential to follow Drew Brees. The team has found no solid development perspective in the draft (think of Garrett Grayson, a third round in 201
Although Brees is under contract until 2019, New Orleans must have a successor plan as Pro Bowler turns 40 next January. Bridgewater would certainly be a solid substitute for a young quarterback (25) with a considerable starter experience (28 regular season starts) and a playoff pedigree. The former Pro Bowler has not only led a franchise into the postseason, but he did as a teenager in a Vikings offensive game that was conservative by nature. Sure, his career numbers are not overwhelming at first glance (he has a 64.7 percent completion rate and a touchdown to interception ratio of 28:22), but he played "winning" football (low sales, smart decisions) for a defensive-oriented team.
While pedestrian statistics and the conservative style of play have led many to point out that Bridgewater is just a game manager, I think it's important to remember that he was a passionate passer-by in Louisville. He completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 9,817 yards and a 72:24 TD-to-INT ratio for the Cardinals during an impressive three-year run that honors a Big East title and Big East Offensive Player of the Year (2012).
As a prospect, Bridgewater certainly showed features of a franchise quarterback (leadership, attitude, judgment, anticipation, timing, and accuracy). He was a pocket passer for a team that used a wide-open offensive system. He quickly and efficiently distributed the ball to his playmaker on a series of quick rhythm throws within the numbers. Bridgewater consistently unified the completion and rarely made expensive mistakes with the ball.
He continued to show these qualities as a passer-by for the Vikings, and most recently for the Jets, with whom he made a comeback following a serious knee injury that wiped out his 2016 season , Bridgewater's combination of balance, anticipation, timing and accuracy prevailed in the preseason as evidenced by his 73.7 percent completion rate and his 2: 1 TD-to-INT ratio in three games. I know early season stats do not count, but the way Bridgewater played it, and the saints' reviewers certainly saw a player with QB1 potential.
Some may chuckle at the idea that Bridgewater is a QB1 due to concerns over his arm strength. But in the NFC South, which includes a pair of domes (Mercedes-Benz Superdome from New Orleans and Atlanta Falcons Mercedes-Benz Stadium) and some mild weather cities (Charlotte and Tampa), this will not be a problem going forward.
2) Sean Payton is the perfect play caller for Bridgewater.
To operate at a high level, the overwhelming majority of quarterbacks in the NFL need a creative play caller in their corner. Payton is arguably one of the best offensive minds in the industry, as the six No. 1 rankings of the Saints in total offense during Payton's tenure to date (2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2016) and a pair of top finishes ending in point offenses (2008 and 2009).
Some would ascribe the success of Saint Brees. But there is no dispute over Payton's influence on the 11-fold Pro Bowler game when you look at the tape. The Saints have carefully designed a scheme for Bree's talents as a single-minded passer-by with A-plus arm talent, while in recent years they have been responsible for decreasing arm strength. The team has introduced a number of vertical concepts in the game plan, but the Saints traditionally target the middle of the field on a variety of seams and thin post routes. In addition, there is a versatile horizontal passing game with a choice of intersection routes and option concepts that aim to make Brees within 10 yards of the Scrimmage line reckless.
I believe that Bridgewater's style and approach are similar to those of Bree. Although Bridgewater is a less gifted talent, he is a passionate passer-by when it comes to handling the short and middle sections of the field in fast throws. Bridgewater makes sound decisions with football and is at his best when playing out of his pocket like a pass-first point guard. He is a distributor in the heart. The Saints play-caller will take advantage of these abilities by launching an offensive involving a series of distance readings and triangle concepts designed to quickly get the ball out of his hands.
With Bridgewater showing the football world that he rediscovered his game as a rhythm passer during his time with the New York Jets, the marriage between Payton and his new QB2 looks like a football match match.
3) Supporting the saints could improve the game of Bridgewater
So much success of a quarterback depends on the support that surrounds it. And the saints have the right weapons in place. From their dynamic running-back tandem (which I've previously called the "GOAT" among the RB duos), to their big WR1 with sticky hands and spectacular ball skills, to their rock-solid offensive, the Saints have a level of talent Key positions needed to increase the quarterback's game.
For a precise "Dink and Dunk" Passer like Bridgewater, the presence of a dominant running game offers great play opportunities outside of game-action counterfeiting. In addition, the explosive playability of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara in the passing game will help terrorize the defense that wants to eliminate its target (Mike Thomas) or its deep menace (Ted Ginn Jr.) with screens and options out of the way. In particular, Kamara could be an important weapon for Bridgewater when it comes to attacking overcompensated linebackers in space. The second-year professional is a nightmare to keep in the open field, and Payton's clever game designs will have # 41 many one-to-one matchups
. Outside, Thomas is an expander of size, length and ball skills to win 50-50 balls on the field. The presence of No. 13 could encourage Bridgewater to be a more aggressive pitcher. With Ginn, who can also win as a vertical playmaker without, could be the new QB2 of the Saints goalscorer.
Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks .