Dec 28, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) celebrates after the Russell Athletic Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft 2014: Analyzing Louisville vs Miami for Teddy Bridgewater


 

Hey there everyone. I watched the game live just to appreciate the swan song of Teddy’s career, but boy was this a good game for him. Upon revisiting this game (the link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqKfxGtCRo0), it really just highlights the strengths of Teddy’s game. He absolutely dominated his opponent, was a class act, and ended his career on a high note. Let’s get into it.

Miami Background: Miami came into this game off of a pretty successful season. They were especially strong towards the beginning of the year before getting trounced by the Seminoles (but let’s be honest, who hasn’t gotten trounced by the Seminoles?), which kind of set them into a downward spiral of defeat and inadequacy. The big thing for our purposes here is that Miami is routinely pumping out talent into the NFL ranks. Last time I checked, the Hurricanes were behind only FSU and Florida in terms of total players in the pros. While they don’t have any top draft picks this upcoming May, this is still good stuff as it pertains to a competition perspective.

Louisville Background: If I gave you any team with a future-top-5-pick at QB, a great defense, and an 11-1 record, you’d tell me they had a successful season. Unfortunately, if you put that team in the American Athletic Conference, and if that one loss was against UCF (who have really come on strong recently), the tone of the season gets skewed. The Cardinals have played extremely well throughout the season, but that one loss to UCF cost the team it’s shot at a title and Teddy a shot at a Heisman trophy. In terms of NFL talent, however, there is much to be desired on this team. The only real weapon on offense is Davante Parker, a tall receiver who figures to be a Round 1 or 2 pick in the upcoming draft.

Louisville’s offensive style is pretty much a prototypical West Coast system. They don’t particularly emphasize tempo, but can move in a hurry when pressing the advantage or in a two-minute scenario. Shawn Watson, their offensive coordinator, has at times this season played away from his strengths – he typically has an almost 50/50 distribution of run to pass plays, even though the backs’ YPC isn’t stellar and Teddy Bridgewater is. I learned something fascinating about their play-calling system: it operates much in the same way as Peyton Manning with his coordinator in Denver. Let me explain. Teddy is told to call three plays in the huddle, which he can then choose between at the line of scrimmage, depending on the look the defense is giving him. This gives the offense a great deal of flexibility, and shows you just how integral Teddy is to that offense, as well as his excellent knowledge of the offense’s and defense’s plays. Anyway, the Cardinals ran 76 plays by my count, and of those 76, 15 plays were adjusted at the line of scrimmage by Bridgewater. This means that Teddy was calling audibles, changing protections, or identifying hot routes roughly 19% of the time, or about once in every five plays. Not bad at all.

Enough mamby pambying. To the chart! (D = Drop, * = Miscommunication, @ = Interception, ! = INT off drop $ = Touchdown. The % Adjusted removes drops and miscommunications from the accuracy rating.)

Yardage Rank ) Left Center Right Total with Raw Percent (%Adjusted)
1 to 5 6 of 6 3 of 4, D 3 of 4 12 of 14, 86% (92%)
5 to 10 3 of 4 6 of 6, $ 4 of 6, D 13 of 26, 81% (86%) $
10 to 20 2 of 2 2 of 2 4 of 4 8 of 8, 100%
20+ 0 of 2, D 0 of 1 3 of 5, $$ 3 of 8, 37% (43%) $$
Totals 11 of 14 11 of 13, $ 14 of 19, $$
79%(85%) 85% (92%) 74% (78%)

His full numbers on the day were 36 of 46 for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns. This is a raw accuracy rating of 78%, with an adjusted rating of 84%. His rushing numbers were 6 attempts for 24 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked once on his first dropback of the game for a safety, due to his H-back failing to pick up a block or chip on the blitzing safety.

Very impressive statline. We do our best not to judge a QB from his statistics, but his pro-style offense and the good competition level certainly give these numbers some credence.

Let’s start off with his negatives. Don’t worry, it’s a short paragraph – I really had to get picky with things about his game. The biggest one, as the chart shows, is his drop-off in accuracy over 20 yards. Now, in the game, these throws were all on-target, but just a few feet in front of a receiver. It’s not a function of accuracy, so much as a lack of elite velocity and arm strength. Now, don’t get me wrong, his arm strength is till good, indeed it’s greatly above average – just not elite. The other thing is just kind of a personal preference, his ball isn’t a perfect spiral. Now, we can debate all we want as to the actual value of a perfect spiral (his production shows that he’s doing just fine), but scouts typically like for a QB to have it. Teddy doesn’t, but it’s really not too big of a deal.

Now for the positives. I’ve talked before about his accuracy (which you can see from the stats) and his pocket presence, each of which are simply phenomenal, so I’m gonna touch on some other things in this piece. Teddy’s strong suit is his mental game, and it was on force against Miami in a way I haven’t seen before. He was going through his progressions like a Pro. Not to be punny, but there it is. As soon as he gets the ball, his eyes search down the field in a quick and smooth manner, looking off safeties and giving time for underneath routes simply by the use of his vision. That leads me to my next point – he always keeps his eyes downfield. Even when he got sacked for a safety, he was always looking for an open man. This, in combination with his excellent pocket presence and navigation skills, are really what makes him so lethal in that intermediate range. Another thing that really helps in that range is his touch. I think I’ve written about it every time I’ve talked about Teddy, but man is it impressive. He knows just where and how to drop the ball in to a receiver’s arms, which more than makes up for his lack of top end arm strength. He can finesse throws much better than any other QB in the class. And lastly, I’d like to mention his throwing form, especially on the run. He always keeps the ball high and tight, and is able to flip his shoulders very efficiently to deliver the ball with accuracy while running towards the left. It was a great performance by Teddy.

Teddy Bridgewater is as close to a surefire-QB prospect as you’ll find. With intangibles and production, intelligence and talent, he should be the first QB, and possibly the first player off the board come May. Honestly, it’s not looking likely that the Jags will be able to draft him, as the Texans have the first pick. We’ll probably see just how good this guy will be by playing against him twice every year. But that doesn’t diminish the value of scouting him. He’s going to be a very good player in the NFL wherever he goes, and if the Jags have any way to draft him, they need to take it. It’s gonna be fun, whatever happens.

 

God bless you guys and have an awesome new year! – Zach

 

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Jacksonville Jaguars Teddy Bridgewater