ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — At mid-morning Wednesday, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio notified his players and coaches of a special meeting that would begin at 10:50 a.m.
Shortly before Fangio met with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock, the two contestants in The Great Quarterback Competition, and informed them of his choice to start in the season opener Sept. 12 against the New York Giants in New Jersey.
Those three then went directly to the team meeting where Fangio made the announcement to the team: Bridgewater was the starting quarterback.
Bridgewater had been in a spring and summer-long competition with Lock, the returning starte, for the right to take the first snap at MetLife Stadium against the Giants. While both quarterbacks had their moments where it appeared they deserved the No. 1 billing, Bridgewater cinched it with his sublime performance Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks.
Bridgewater led the Broncos to two touchdowns on his two drives against the Seahawks and completed 9 of 11 for 105 yards that included a 35-yard strike to Jerry Jeudy to convert a fourth-and-5, a completion that set up the first touchdown and a 22-yard completion to tight end Eric Saubert that led to another.
>>Video above: Vic Fangio talks about decision to make Teddy Bridgewater starting Broncos QB
Bridgewater performed well with the first- and second-team offenses during the preseason. He came off the bench the previous week in the Broncos’ preseason opener at Minnesota and completed 7 of 8 for 74 yards while leading the No. 2-3 units to a touchdown and field goal in two drives.
Had it not been for a penalty that nullified Bridgewater’s 12-yard scoring scramble against the Vikings, Bridgewater would have had four touchdowns in four preseason drives.
Lock was sensational in his start against the Vikings, completing 5 of 7 for 151 yards and two touchdowns – one of which was a gorgeous 80-yard pass to receiver KJ Hamler. Lock was a penalty away from guiding the offense to three touchdowns in three drives that day. He was not as effective playing with the No. 2 offense in the next preseason game against Seattle, although he did lead his team to three field goals in five drives.
Fangio had promised a 50-50 split in reps for Bridgewater and Lock and that’s the way it played out starting in late-May with OTAs, followed by the mandatory minicamp in mid-June and training camp that began in late-July.
Bridgewater, who turns 29 on November 10, has a 26-23 career record as a starter with the Vikings, Saints and Panthers with an 89.5 passer rating. Lock, who turns 25 on the same November 10 day, has an 8-10 record as the Broncos’ starter with a 79.1 rating.
The Broncos acquired Bridgewater plus $7 million of his $11.5 million salary from the Carolina Panthers on the eve of the NFL Draft in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick. Carolina then traded that sixth-round pick to the Eagles, who took defensive end Tarron Jackson.
Another reason why Bridgewater made sense: There is so much youth elsewhere on the Broncos' offense. Receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler are barely 22 years old. Rookie running back Javonte Williams is a few months past 21. Tight ends Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbuna are 23. Young centers Lloyd Cushenberry III (23) and Quinn Meinerz (22) are younger than Lock, who is one of the kids.
Bridgewater is one of those vets who commands respect just by standing there. When talks and lends advice. the kids listen. Or at least they better now.
Broncos play their final preseason game Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams at Empower Field at Mile High. The game kicks off at 7:05 p.m. with the stadium allowed to hold a full capacity of fans. The game can also be viewed on Channel 20.
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