Teddy Bridgewater Addresses ‘Unacceptable’ Non-Tackle vs. Eagles

Teddy Bridgewater

Getty Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Denver Broncos throws the ball during the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Empower Field At Mile High on November 14, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.

Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater put himself on centerstage, both Sunday and Monday. His game-day action–or lack thereof–caused viral outrage and not just from Broncos Country.

After Denver running back Melvin Gordon fumbled with the Eagles ahead 20-13, Bridgewater had an opportunity to tackle end zone-bound cornerback Darius Slay but chose to make a business–some would say cowardly–decision.

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Bridgewater: My Effort Was ‘Unacceptable’

Incredibly, the Broncos did not score again after Slay’s play of the game. The loss itself was infuriating enough without Bridgewater’s absence of physicality. His apathy to make a tackle was obvious for the world to see, including his embattled head coach.

“Coach [Vic Fangio] pointed out that my effort had to be better there,” Bridgewater told reporters, Nov. 15. “I totally agree. 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 because you know how much this game means to you. Guys are out there trying to make a play. You feel like you have a little help running towards the sideline and you try to force a cut back.

“In real time, it feels like everything is happening fast—let’s force a cutback. But when you slow it down, it’s like, ‘Man, just give more effort.’ You watch it and you walk away from it pissed at yourself. Credit Slay—he made a great play also. It’s one of those deals where we have guys that were trying to make the tackle. I just needed to lay it all out for the guys in that moment.”

The cold reality is he didn’t. That can’t be taken away, no matter how confused and off-guard Bridgewater may have been. He initially thought Gordon was down, expecting a whistle to be blown–bringing a halt to the runback. Unfortunately for all in orange and blue that wasn’t the case.

“It kind of caught me by surprise, but at the same time, I’m right there [with an] opportunity to just dive, sacrifice and do whatever I can to help the team in that moment. I failed and I own up to it. It’s unacceptable as a football player and as a member of his team. You play this game and you lay it all on the line every week. That’s one of those moments where I just have to accept the fact that I didn’t give everything I had in me on that play. I understand that there’s going to be some backlash that comes with it.”

Despite suggestions the play summed up the Broncos’ season and more specifically, confirmed doubts in Bridgewater being ‘the guy’, he says otherwise.

“It doesn’t define me as a man and as a football player,” Bridgewater told Denver media. “We get this bye week to get some time and just reflect and embrace the good, accept the bad, embrace the bad, and just move forward. We can’t let Sunday’s performance linger. We can’t let that determine the outcome of the rest of the season.”

Fangio & Teammates Call Out Bridgewater’s Effort

Understandably, teammates had words with the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Quitting on a play which proved so vital in the context of the game was bound to have an effect on the locker room.

“Yeah. Guys have talked to me about the play,” Bridgewater admitted. “I won’t share what we talked about, but it was great that coach called it out in the team meeting. We talk about holding each other accountable. That’s a moment right there where I’m not going to sink in my chair or feel bad that coach called me out. I take full ownership in what happened. Coach called me out and I hold myself accountable. We all have a standard that we live by around here. I’m happy coached called me out to show, ‘Hey, man. We need more out of you right here.’ It happened.”

As for his overall toughness, Bridgewater doesn’t believe that should be brought into question. Notwithstanding the critics he will not questioned his own character. For the 28-year-old, grit goes well beyond the gridiron.

“I’m not worried about my toughness being questioned,” he said. “I know how tough I am physically, mentally. I know how tough I am physically and mentally through what I’ve gone through in life. Nothing compares to some of the things I’ve gone through in life. I’m not worried about my toughness being questioned. We have a tough group of men here on this football team. I don’t question their toughness either.

Follow Patrick Djordjevic on Twitter: @Patdjordjevic

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