Teddy Bridgewater took a lot of heat for what he didn't do in Sunday's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Denver Broncos quarterback had a chance to impede Darius Slay as the Eagles cornerback ran a fumble return 83 yards for a touchdown in the 30-13 Philadelphia win. Instead, he simply moved out of the way near midfield, allowing Slay to run untouched the rest of the way for the game-changing score.
The loss dropped the Broncos to 5-5, and Bridgewater's effort prompted frustrated calls in Denver for the Broncos to replace him with third-year quarterback Drew Lock. Head coach Vic Fangio shot them down on Monday.
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) November 15, 2021
"Teddy's our quarterback moving forward," Fangio said when asked about a potential quarterback change.
Would Broncos actually benefit from starting Lock?
Denver's approaching its bye week, and the thought process behind the calls for change is to give Lock — whom the Broncos invested a second-round pick in during the 2019 draft — another look with the remainder of a season that's largely looking lost. Why not make the switch now when he'll have an extra week of preparation? This thought process doesn't appear to take into account Lock's 13 starts last season that produced 16 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, a 57.3% completion rate and four wins — an effort that pretty much told the Broncos what he is as an NFL quarterback.
The other part of that thought process is that folks in Denver — fans and local media alike — are just plain mad at Teddy. He didn't do the tough football thing when the tough football thing was called for. So it's time to bail on the journeyman playing his first season in Denver and clearly not invested in the Broncos' success. Again — that's the mad-at-Teddy sentiment.
Was Bridgewater right to pass on tackle?
Another way to look at it is that Bridgewater has had his body and his career wrecked on multiple occasions. He's on a one-year contract in Denver with no guarantee of an NFL paycheck beyond the end of this season. The Broncos don't look like a playoff team win or lose on Sunday, so was it really in his best interests to try to tackle a defender running at full speed considering the limited upside and the downside to his health and career?
After all, he's paid to play quarterback — not make tackles. If he suffered another career-altering injury attempting a tackle, the NFL wasn't going to sign any sympathy checks after his contract expires. This is the classic business decision side of things. And it appeared to be Bridgewater's priority on Sunday.
Teddy says the right things
However you feel about Bridgewater's decision, he was ready to face the criticism on Monday. And he said all the right things expected of a quarterback who wants to keep his job.
More from Teddy, "It was great coach called it out in the team meeting...I take full ownership in what happened. Coach called me out, and I hold myself accountable...I'm happy coach called me out."#BroncosCountry @CBSDenver https://t.co/4NO3VxFi1v pic.twitter.com/futluYoUK1
— Michael Spencer (@MichaelCBS4) November 15, 2021
"It was great that coach called it out in a team meeting," Bridgewater said of the play. "We talk about holding each other accountable. ... I take full ownership in what happened. Coach called me out. I hold myself accountable. ...
"That's not the type of tape that I want to put out there. It's one of those situations where you get pissed after you watch it. You know how much this game means to you. You know guys are out there trying to make a play. ... It's one of those deals where we've got guys diving, trying to make a tackle, and I just needed to lay it out all for the guys in that moment."
Barring a change of sentiment or health status, Bridgewater will remain Denver's quarterback out of next week's bye as the Broncos face a tough second-half slate with two games each against the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers alongside matchups against the playoff hopeful Cincinnati Bengals and Las Vegas Raiders. With Lock or Bridgewater under center, this Broncos team doesn't look equipped to come out from that slate with a winning record.
That doesn't sound like a recipe for Bridgewater or Fangio to return to Denver next season.