Teddy Bridgewater and Lamar Jackson pick up big week five victories.
There’s not much of anything that will help Louisville football fans get over what they watched on Friday night, but if there was one thing that could bring enough joy to suffice, its watching Teddy Bridgewater and Lamar Jackson lead their respective teams to victories.
Last week both quarterbacks had multiple highlight plays that made their way around social media, with Bridgewater and the Panthers picking up a win over the Arizona Cardinals and Jackson’s Ravens blowing out the Washington Football Team. Even Reggie Bonnafon got into the action, catching his first touchdown of the season from no one else rather than his teammate, Bridgewater.
Bridgewater came out rolling against the Atlanta Falcons, especially in the first half, where he absolutely torched a defense that was hanging on for dear life. Everyone on the Falcons sideline knew their coaches job was 100 percent on the line in this game, yet they still could not even sneeze on Bridgewater.
While not being known for stat sheet stuffing ability, Bridgewater completed 20 of his first 27 passes for 261 yards, and two touchdowns; all in the first half. Playing for Matt Rhule and offensive guru Joe Brady, you could tell snap by snap that Bridgewater was getting more comfortable with the offense and his weapons and it showed in his numbers and in his chemistry with Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, and Mike Davis.
He’d go on to finish the game 27/37 for 313 yards and two total touchdowns, pushing the Panthers to 3-2, and first place in the NFC South. It’s still extremely early in the season but considering that most picked Bridgewater and the Panthers to finish last, the fact that they are in a spot to compete, especially without their star running back Christian McCaffrey, is a testament to the ability and leadership of no. 5.
If you remember, so many people criticized the Panthers for giving Bridgewater $63 million, especially considering all he went through with his leg injury. He was supposed to be the “bridge” to the next young quarterback or what people are calling “Rhule’s guy.” Yet, so far he’s played like a franchise quarterback, doing so in the most Teddy way possible
Bridgewater wasn’t done.
Knowing how difficult it is to make it back to the field from a potential career-threatening injury, he took to Twitter in only a way that Teddy could to offer his encouragement to Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott who went down with a gruesome leg injury and congratulate Alex Smith, who returned after a nearly two year absence.
The other franchise guy and former Louisville Cardinal, Lamar Jackson, also was able to lead his team to a division win, once again in blow out fashion. However, the questions are starting to pile up about his struggles in the passing game following his performance. While Bridgewater completed 70 percent of his passes for the fourth time in five games, Lamar Jackson was not so fortunate against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Going up against the 22nd best defense in the NFL, Jackson looked surprisingly uncomfortable throughout the entire game, making it the second straight week where you could make that claim.
There’s no denying that Jackson has been one of the most over-criticized quarterbacks in recent NFL memory, even after winning the MVP Award. Many continue to point to his passing inadequacies when questioning his ability to become an elite quarterback, noting accuracy issues, struggles to see the field, amongst other things, and this season they’ve been right.
While the numbers won’t necessarily show it, Jackson hasn’t been the same passer this season as we saw last season but if you watched the game against the Bengals it was beyond obvious to see.
The Ravens were able to benefit from a matchup mismatch, as it was clear from the early on that the Bengals weren’t going to be able to do much of anything on offense. The game was never in question for Jackson and Baltimore, but somehow playing in the lead, Jackson still wasn’t able to get on target with his receivers.
As if being called “Lamar Murray” and “Murray” by Greg Gumbel multiple times wasn’t enough (c’mon Greg, what happened?), Jackson often times looked behind in his reads missing wide open receivers all over the field, while trying to force passes into double and sometimes triple coverage (or even just right to the Bengals).
Completing 51 percent of his passes (19/37), Jackson threw for only 180 yards, rushed for just three yards, and connected on touchdown’s with his star tight end Mark Andrews as well as last year’s first round-selection, Hollywood Brown, a more than encouraging sign.
Though they were never able to make anything of it, the Bengals surprisingly did a good job of pressuring Jackson and making things uncomfortable for him the entire game. If you remember back to last season, Cincinnati’s defense was on the wrong side of one of those “MVP defining plays” from Lamar, something I bet they took personally.
His play wasn’t pretty, and a knee injury/stomach bug probably played a part in that, but at the end of the day a win is a win. The Ravens 31-3 win over Cincinnati pushed them to 4-1 overall, and 2-1 inside the AFC East, and puts them in the drivers seat as they head into matchups with Philadelphia next week followed by division rival, Pittsburgh.