It comes as no surprise that the Denver Broncos are having an excellent season under Vic Fangio who is now in his third year as the team’s head coach. Historically, if a coach is to succeed, it is the third year at the post that most often shows the best returns.
The Broncos have been looking for a capable quarterback since the retirement of Peyton Manning after he led the Broncos to a win in Super Bowl 50 to conclude the 2016 season. Their drafting didn’t produce a signal caller that got the Broncos a winning season, but when the Carolina Panthers acquired Sam Darnold from the New York Jets it made Carolina’s current starting quarterback expendable.
That was Teddy Bridgewater, who has had a pro career that has taken more turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco.
A 2014 first round draft choice out of the University of Louisville, Bridgewater led the Vikings to the NFC North Division title in his second pro season and earned a spot on the Pro Bowl roster. In 2016, as Bridgewater was on the eve of his third pro season, everything looked bright for him and his team … until disaster struck during the week leading to the season opener.
At the Tuesday practice before the opening of the 2016 regular season Bridgewater tore his ACL and his playing days in Minnesota pretty much ended with that injury. The Vikings decided to not pick up his fifth year option and Bridgewater signed with the New York Jets, who traded him to the New Orleans Saints prior to the start of the 2018 season.
As Drew Brees’ backup in New Orleans, Bridgewater got five starts in 2019 while Brees was sidelined and won all five opportunities. Before the 2020 season, Bridgewater signed with the Carolina Panthers and became their starter until they acquired Darnold, which led to the Broncos acquiring Bridgewater for a sixth round draft choice.
The thinking in Denver was that Bridgewater would assist in the development of Drew Lock, who Denver had penciled in as their starter heading into the preseason. But, during August, Bridgewater outperformed Lock and was named the starter. In his first three starts for the Broncos, Bridgewater has led victories over the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets and elevated Broncos football to where they were installed as a favorite on the opening line for this week’s contest against the Baltimore Ravens.
The success of the Broncos, three wins in three starts, can be traced in addition to Bridgewater’s solid play to a defense that has allowed the fewest points in the league and the quality of the opposition.
While the Broncos have pinned the Giants, Jaguars and Jets with three of their combined nine losses, those three teams have also collected six other defeats without a win from other opponents. In other words, the Broncos success has been gained against very questionable opposition.
That changes this week.
The Ravens, winners of two of their first three games which includes a second week of the season triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs, come to the Mile High City looking to avenge a near loss in Detroit last Sunday … which was only averted by virtue of a 66-yard field goal as time expired.
Bridgewater is a great story and most of the football world is rooting for the man that has overcome so much to be leading a solid undefeated Denver squad. But fairy tales often have harsh realities on their way to happily-ever-after, my wife still grieves for Bambi’s mother.
After Sunday, the 1972 Miami Dolphins can scratch one more team challenging their undefeated season as the Ravens pin Denver with their first loss of the year.
Qoxhi Picks: Baltimore Ravens (pk) over Denver Broncos