Sam Darnold stole the show and the headlines, and deservedly so after his impressive NFL debut. But Teddy Bridgewater was the Jets most efficient and effective quarterback in Friday’s preseason opener.
Darnold’s quarterback rating in the Jets 17-0 victory over the Falcons was an impressive 103.0. Bridgewater’s was 150.5.
What does this mean? GM Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles have a good problem on their hands and the Jets' offense is in good hands.
Darnold is the future of the Jets and may even be the starting quarterback when they open the regular season Monday night Sept. 10 in Detroit. But Bridgewater, who is 25 and a former starting quarterback in the league, has looked sharp as he continues his return from a devastating knee injury that essentially cost him the past two years.
Bridgewater was 7-for-8 for 85 yards and a touchdown and led the Jets on two scoring drives in his only two series. As poised and comfortable as Darnold looked, especially on the drive that ended with the rookie throwing a 14-yard scoring strike to Charles Johnson, Bridgewater played with confidence and belief that he was all the way back and he could resume his career.
“It felt good getting hit again,” Bridgewater said. “You never want the quarterback getting hit, but for me it was the final step of the process. Got hit, got right back up and it just served as a reminder that the game is still the same. It’s still a physical game and the hits still feel the same. It was just a great experience for me and I am just excited. That was the biggest takeaway. I am just very excited.”
Josh McCown said, “To watch Teddy, specially after his long road back and everything he’s gone through, to step out there and take us right down the field and get a score, it gave me chills.”
Let’s not forget about McCown.
He’s the Jets starting quarterback until someone takes the job away from him. Darnold and Bridgewater began staking their claim for that position with their play Friday night.
But McCown, the journeyman 16-year QB who only played one series Friday, couldn’t be handling this situation with more dignity and professionalism.
“Teddy is coming back off an injury,” McCown said. “What a great story that is and it’s easy to root for him. And then Sam, this is his first time. So two different kind of perspectives and stories. If you are a football fan and you enjoy the sport, it’s fun to be a part of. And to get a front row seat and more importantly to just go out and want to see them accomplish the things that we talk about in our quarterback room on a daily basis is huge and they did that and so we couldn’t be happier.”
The presumption is Bridgewater, a former Pro Bowl quarterback with the Vikings, isn’t long for the Jets organization. It’s not that they don’t like him. He has a great attitude and has done everything asked of him. But Bridgewater, who signed a on,e-year, $5 million in March, could be valuable as a trade asset.
If they could flip Bridgewater for a pass rusher or early-round draft picks, the Jets would have to consider it. But there is no rush to do that. There are three more preseason games left that will determine what Maccganan does with the roster and Bowles with his quarterbacks.
“I’m not going to jump to any conclusions after one game,” Bowles said. “I’m going to take my notes and watch practice and compare with the coaches and we’ll come up with a decision. It’s a tough decision. We have three good players and we’re happy to have them.”
Bowles liked what Darnold showed on his 64-yard scoring drive, mentioning his poise and footwork. But he said he wasn’t surprised because he’s been doing it in practice. Darnold was playing against the Falcons’ second- and third-string defense. But it was impressive nonetheless.
The Jets will hold some joint practices this week the Redskins in Virginia before playing Washington Thursday. Darnold may see some snaps against the Redskins’ first-team defense as this quarterback competition continues.
Bridgewater, who also is handling everything professionally, looks forward to seeing how Darnold evolves and develops.
“You’re talking about a guy coming in and picking up things right away and Sam is doing just that, Bridgewater said. “I was excited to watch him play. When he went in, the crowd was chanting his name, and I was right behind them, trying to pump the crowd up. I’m excited for him. I’m excited about what’s in store for him and what’s in store for this team."
Notes & quotes: Kevin Pierre-Louis has been suspended for one game for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Pierre-Louis was arrested and charged with several misdemeanors, including possession of marijuana, after a traffic stop in January in Kansas City while he was a member of the Chiefs. He reached a plea deal in March. Pierre-Louis can play in the preseason but he will miss the Sept. 10 opener against the Lions.
Pierre-Louis is the third Jet who has been suspended by the league this year. Cornerback Rashard Robinson received a four-game ban for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and ArDarius Stewart was suspended two games for violating the league’s PED policy.
Wide receiver Robby Anderson, linebacker Dylan Donohue and rookie tight end Chris Herndon also face possible suspension following arrests.
Teddy Bridgewater's passer rating in his Jets preseason debut. His night:
85 passing yards