Faced with a difficult decision that could alter the fate of the Denver Broncos, head coach Vic Fangio opted to name Teddy Bridgewater the team's starting quarterback. In the moment, Fangio's controversial decision, which was met with a fair amount of criticism (including from yours truly), appeared to be self-serving on the surface and more about saving his job than doing what was right for the Broncos in both the short- and long-term.
After all, the Broncos had walked the desert with Drew Lock, sacrificing one-and-a-quarter lost seasons to get him the vital live-bullet experience he needed to develop, to say nothing of the second-round draft pick (and then some) and coaching poured into him. Then Lock returns to Dove Valley this summer showcasing strong strides of improvement, seemingly answering the call his team telegraphed to him.
What that equation omitted, however, was the Teddy factor. My criticism of Fangio, at least two weeks into the 2021 season, appears to have been without merit. While I'll always question on some level whether sitting Lock down after he showed improvement this summer was the right one for the long-term stability of the club, there's little doubt at this point that Bridgewater was the right call for maximizing what is a talented and deep roster.
My read on the situation was that, in what amounted to a lame-duck year, Fangio erred on the side of the quarterback with the higher floor than ceiling. But Bridgewater has exceeded expectations through two romping starts, casting his long-term viability as a quarterback solution into focus.
If Bridgewater continues to play at this level, he'll no longer be viewed as a band-aid or stop-gap quarterback. Turning 29 years old in November, he'd become just as good a candidate to be Denver's future franchise quarterback as anyone.
I won't lie. In the wake of his failure to launch in Carolina last year after the Panthers paid him 'franchise' money, my view on Teddy was that of a short-term mercenary. Do you need to keep the ship afloat while a starter heals up or until a young guy develops? Then Bridgewater was your man.
Make no mistake; Teddy has flipped that perception on its ear and made soft critics look a fool and Fangio like the smartest guy in the room.
I never doubted that — with this roster — Bridgewater could win and turn the Broncos into a plausible Wild Card threat. In fact, I'm on record as predicting that whether Fangio rolled with Teddy or Lock, this Broncos squad had the horses to contend for a playoff spot.