The Jets began reconstructing their quarterback depth chart when they added Teddy Bridgewater to the mix that currently includes the re-signed Josh McCown plus Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.
Here are seven things you may have forgotten about Bridgewater, who was the last pick of the first round by Minnesota in the 2014 draft and on his way to a nice NFL career before suffering that devastating non-contact left knee injury in a late-August 2016 Vikings practice:
Bridgewater was 6-6 as the Vikings' rookie starter in '14. One of his highlights that year was his 19-for-27, 309-yard passing performance vs. the Jets, crowned by his WR screen pass that Jarius Wright took 87 yards for the overtime gamewinner — the second-longest pass play in the NFL that season. That game was part of Teddy's NFL-rookie-record streak of completing 70% of his passes in four straight games.
Superior SophomoreBridgewater came up even bigger in 2015, when he and the Vikes went 11-5 and won the NFC North title before losing in the AFC Wild Card Round to Seattle. He threw 14 TDs to nine INTs and completed 65.3% of his passes. One thing he did the best of all qualifying QBs that year: He had the league's best 3-and-out drive rate at 13.4%, which enabled him and the Vikings to compile healthy averages of 5.8 plays and 31.3 yards every drive.
Among other things, Bridgewater has become known as the QB who wears two white gloves when he plays. He also knows that even though they're normal-sized football gloves, they remind folks of a certain TV commercial. "Hamburger Helper," he jokes with his teammates in a wired OTA segment, going on to explain why he wears them: "They make the release a little quicker."
The gloves became a permanent Bridgewater fixture after he didn't have a good Louisville pro day when he threw barehanded for NFL coaches and scouts after training gloveless in the Florida weather for three weeks.
Bridgewater still needs to show Jets fans and NFL watchers that he's all the way back from that knee injury, but just his determination to return ahead of schedule last season tells a lot about his character. The original diagnosis of a torn ACL and knee dislocation was supposed to keep him out around 18 months, knocking out not only the 2016 season but possibly 2017 as well.
But he began throwing last May during OTAs, was cleared in October to begin practice, and took the field to a standing ovation from Vikings fans, albeit for one game and two passes, in relief of Case Keenum in November.
Before his return, he had words of inspiration for all: " I definitely believe I'll play this year. It's going to take some grit. That's just the mindset. ... I hope my story can motivate someone. The future is bright."
Teddy has been a star not only on the football field but in the world of children's lit. His longtime girlfriend, Erika Cardona, last year authored a book titled "Little Bear Teddy: Big Dream Come True" that is loosely based on the QB. The summary of the book on its website reads: "Little Bear Teddy dreams about what he wants to be when he is older. His dream comes true because he understands that working hard in school is just as important as practicing on the field."
Toughness Runs in the Family
Bridgewater got his education despite growing up on the mean streets of Miami's Liberty City neighborhood. In a 2015 profile on twincities.com, his mother, Rose Murphy, was known as "Coach Rose," not just because she pitched batting practice to his Little League teams but because she diagrammed routes she wanted Teddy to take to avoid danger and get to high school safely.
"She made all types of sacrifices, and I'm just thankful for the woman she is," Bridgewater said. "The stability wasn't there because we had to move a lot, but she made sure we had the best clothes and the best shoes and always had food to eat, and she made sure we were taken care of."
The Pink Cadillac
Bridgewater's love for his mom came through in the anecdote about the gift he gave her right before the 2014 draft. When Teddy was 9, he told Rose, a breast cancer survivor, that he would get her a pink Cadillac Escalade not if but when he made it to the NFL. Filmmaker Spike Lee and the automaker both jumped on the story, with Cadillac donating the car and sponsoring Lee's 7½-minute film about a young QB's promise to his mother.