Should Denver Broncos starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater roll out yet another clunker performance, as he did in a Week 6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, his tenure as the leading man could start to get dicey.
But according to a pocket of Broncos Country, they’d rather not wait and see if Bridgewater falters against the undermanned and severely-injured Cleveland Browns in the October 21 primetime matchup.
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Locked and Loaded
When USA Today’s Broncos Wire ran an online poll asking the fan base if they’d prefer to see backup Drew Lock in the starting lineup instead of the currently-struggling Bridgewater, the push for the once-embattled Lock was overwhelmingly in his favor.
According to the results, about 70% of fans said Lock should start, while 23% want to stick with Bridgewater. Fittingly, as has been the case with some in Broncos Country suffering with apathy since the Peyton Manning days ended, around 6% of fans said they are ‘indifferent’ about which QB starts for the Broncos.
The case against Bridgewater is likely due to his uneven play during the Broncos’ current three-game losing streak. There were crickets among Bridgewater dissenters, however, while he was leading the Broncos (3-3) to a near-perfect September 2021. The veteran journeyman was playing terrific ball, and wasn’t committing any turnovers during their unbeaten streak. But things started to change once the tough part of the Broncos’ schedule commenced — resulting in their current slide.
A Week 4 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens, October 3, was when the current sad state came about, as Bridgewater was knocked out of the game on the last play of the first half on a hit by rookie linebacker Odafe Oweh. There was no flag on the play, but Oweh was later fined for the helmet-to-helmet hit.
Bridgewater was 7-of-16 for 65 yards and a touchdown in game, as Lock took over to start the second half. Lock was pedestrian, as the Broncos went away from their power-rushing attack tandem of Melvin Gordon III and rookie Javonte Williams. Lock went 12-of-21 for 113 yards, and was picked in the end zone on his final pass attempt of the game, in the waning seconds of an already-decided contest.
The following week was yet another uneven Bridgewater performance, this time against a then-struggling Pittsburgh Steelers squad. The veteran signal caller, who admirably cleared the concussion protocol just one day prior to the Week 5 road matchup, went 24-of-38 for 288, two touchdowns, and his first interception of the season. The numbers looked decent on paper, but Bridgewater wasn’t at his best and the offense didn’t click until the Broncos were in desperation mode and the Steelers’ defense laxed.
Denver then went on to lose its third-straight game, at home against the hated Raiders, and it was then that Bridgewater took the worst beating of his young Broncos’ career, as he was hit a whopping 17 times. He did go 35-of-49 for 334 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw a Denver career-high three interceptions.
The recent downturn in the 2021 season is why Broncos Country is pining for a guy they started to sour on in the early stages of the 2020 season — especially after Lock started to show promise following his 4-1 record down the stretch of the 2019 campaign. But the erratic play was what started the diminishing of confidence in him within the fan base. Not only was Denver’s quarterback-rabid community tiring of Lock’s ill-advised decisions, lack of field awareness, and inaccuracy, but so were NFL pundits.
Not Just the QB’s Fault
As badly as Broncos Country wants to replace the current starting quarterback, it should be told that the large men paid handsomely to protect the passer haven’t been all too great either.
Bridgewater ended the Raiders’ game with a bruised foot after being sacked five times — mostly against a four-man rush. Yes, the offensive line employs five players, so losing battles along the line of scrimmage to just four individuals was quite disconcerting. Denver’s leading man was under siege from the onset, as besides the five sacks, he was knocked down on eight drop-backs, and pressured on nine other drop-backs, for a total of 22 disruptions — and that doesn’t even include three other knockdowns on plays that were negated by penalties.