There’s never a good time to lose a starting quarterback, particularly one in the MVP conversation. But if the Miami Dolphins absolutely had to replace Tua Tagovailoa with Teddy Bridgewater, Week 5 is as good a time as any to do it.
The New York Jets, while 2-2, are not a good team. They’re in the bottom quarter in both offensive and defensive EPA and 25th in DVOA.
Can Teddy Bridgewater Get Miami Dolphins Back on Track?
It’s no surprise, then, that the Jets are three-point home dogs, even with Bridgewater under center, and even after a 24-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4.
The Jets haven’t won consecutive games since 2020, and despite Zach Wilson’s encouraging season debut — he was 13th in QBR last week and his stats would have been much better if not for five Jets drops — there’s ample reason to believe that Bridgewater’s Dolphins will prevail at MetLife.
Bridgewater Was Built for This Moment
Bridgewater, now in Season 9, is facing the Jets for just the third time. But the previous two meetings could hardly have gone better. He’s 2-0 against Gang Green, completing 73.1% of his passes for 544 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick.
Bridgewater’s career passer rating against the Jets? 111.4. That includes a complete rout of New York when he was the Broncos’ starter in 2021.
Plus, he’s looked confident in the brief time he’s played for the Dolphins. Bridgewater had one bad throw in relief of Tagovailoa last week — the pick he threw late in regulation — but he still ranked 13th in EPA+CPOE in Week 4 among passers with 20 or more snaps. That follows up a 2021 season in which he ranked 10th in that category.
Bridgewater’s mindset for this week?
“Just be yourself,” he said Wednesday. “I can’t be Tua. I had to learn a lesson when I was in New Orleans. I couldn’t be Drew Brees. So it’s like, as long as I continue to be myself, the guys realize, man, this guy isn’t faking it. He’s not trying to be something he’s not. It’s like it’s a sense of relief. Like okay, yeah, we know we’re getting the real version of him. It’s not trying to be something he’s not. And that’s just my approach every day.”
Bridgewater’s Presence a ‘Relief’ for 3-1 Dolphins
Bridgewater has a coach in Mike McDaniel who’s a lot like the coach he had in New Orleans. Terron Armstead earlier this year favorably compared McDaniel and Sean Payton, and there’s no question both are really smart schematically.
This might be the most quarterback-friendly system Bridgewater ever has been in. But drawing up good plays is just part of the equation. Instilling players with confidence is another big piece of the puzzle. McDaniel does that well, too.
“There’s a relief having Bridgewater in this position,” McDaniel said Wednesday.
“To have not only his past history, but everything he’s done in the building, it’s a huge, humongous deal,” McDaniel said. ” … The whole [quarterback] room is better because they have Teddy.”
Bridgewater Doesn’t Have To Do It All Himself
And if for whatever reason Teddy loses confidence, Tyreek Hill can lend him some. He’s got plenty to go around. Hill, who leads the NFL in receiving yards through four weeks (477), told a Miami beat writer Monday that he could put up numbers even if the reporter was throwing him the ball.
“I feel like he’s just a veteran guy — having that connection and being able to have some conversations about ball,” Hill said. “Teddy understands my play style and I understand where he wants me to be at on the field. That’s how we connected deep down the field against the Bengals. Just me and him on the same page. Him telling me, ‘Hey ‘Reek, if we get a certain coverage, I need you on this side of the hash. I need you here.’ And stuff like that.
“So just us being able to recognize things together and being on the same page. I try to have a good relationship with all of my quarterbacks.”
Added Bridgewater Wednesday: “There’s so many weapons on this team. And I honestly believe this is the most firepower that I’ve ever been around. So you know, just the combination of talent, the guys’ skill sets, the mental capacity of being able to retain information and go out and execute at a top-notch level. This wows me every day.”
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