Skip to main content

Saints News | New Orleans Saints |

New Orleans Saints have high regard for former teammate Teddy Bridgewater

'Once he stepped into the huddle, a lot of times he brought that positivity with him'

Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) looks to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) looks to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

On franchise history calendar, it was little more than a stitch in time: A two-season, 32-regular-season-game stopover, with 14 actual games played and six of them starts.

But Teddy Bridgewater's stitch seemed a lot more like a patch in the New Orleans Saints' quilt, and was a time in which the quarterback was able to resurrect his NFL career.

In those two seasons, Bridgewater, now the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers (3-3), who will play the Saints (3-2) on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, carved a space inside the heart of the Saints' locker room and the city.

Undoubtedly, helping the Saints win five straight games in Drew Brees' absence last year – completing 68 percent of his passes for 1,384 yards and nine touchdowns, with two interceptions – helped. The Saints finished 13-3 and won their third consecutive NFC South Division title.

But so, too, did the fact that he rode his bike to and from home games. And that he was a smiling, but edgy, competitor as scout team quarterback. And that he recovered from a devastating knee injury that essentially cost him two seasons, and almost cost him his leg and career. And that he went to his high school's football game and did the Supa Strut with the dance team.

Teddy Two Gloves seemed to have a knack for feeling the pulse of those around him, and making everything better.

"Teddy, the thing that stood out most was his energy," Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport said. "Teddy always talked about being blessed to play the sport. And you see him, you see what he's doing (and) you see what he's done. And you just kind of feel that in a sense, too. It's a blessing to be here (is what he emphasizes).

"He brings a different kind of energy that makes you excited, he's always trying to talk to everybody and get to know everybody. So he's just one of them real teammates. Like I said, it's blessing to see what he's been doing, too. I know we can't wait to get after him."

Saints defenders weren't allowed to hit their former teammate in practice. But now, Bridgewater is fair game.

So far this season, he has displayed some of the traits he exhibited in New Orleans – 1,676 passing yards and six touchdowns, with five interceptions, while completing 71 percent of his passes, but also 23 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, New Orleans would love nothing more than to add to his interception and sack (12) totals. But before and after the game, it'll be all love for Bridgewater, who landed a lucrative, three-year contract with Carolina as an unrestricted free agent.

"Teddy's positivity and energy he brings to practice and work every day is unmatched," tight end Jared Cook said. "Always positive, always on to the next play, always happy, man. I think what Teddy went through in Minnesota (with a torn ACL and dislocated knee in 2016), it was unfortunate and terrible.

"But I think it also made Teddy an even better person, just from his outlook on life and positive activity. Because once he stepped into the huddle, a lot of times he brought that positivity with him. No matter what was going on through those five games last year, when Teddy stepped in the huddle it was all business, and he just had a sense that everything was going be OK.

"Even though everybody around us was panicking, the whole world was worried about what was going to happen without Drew (Brees), when Teddy stepped in there, it was just such a positive vibe, and it was just all, everything was going up. That's who Teddy is and I think his past experiences have helped him become that type of leader to where, just trust in me, things will be alright.

"I think he definitely has the arm and physical and mental attributes to continue to do that and keep playing well. He definitely deserves it."

Coach Sean Payton said that everything Bridgewater showed in New Orleans, he's showing with the Panthers.

"He's doing well," Payton said. "It's good to see him doing well and it's not a surprise. He's a fantastic leader, a real good player and you wish he had gone out of the division."

But staying in the division made the most sense (and cents).

Bridgewater joined a team with a new head coach in Matt Rhule, but a familiar face on staff; Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady was an offensive assistant for the Saints in 2017-18.

The familiarity with what the Saints ran offensively, as well as the offense installed by the Panthers, made Bridgewater a free agent target.

"I think a lot was to see him on tape, see him in a system very similar to this how he would play and what he would look like," Rhule said. "To me, when you see him play, you know he's a really good player and it makes you want to bring him on board. The fact that he wins, that's what he did at Louisville, that's what he did at Minnesota, that's what he did in New Orleans, so you had the confidence that he could do it here."

That, and begin to construct another patch.

"I think he's a natural-born leader," Rhule said. "I think guys want to play for him and at the same time, he's unbelievably smart football-wise, does a great job of understanding what we're trying to get done, explaining it to others, having his own take on what we should get done.

"I think because of that he helps people play better, guys follow him and I think that's because he's a tremendous leader."

Related Content