Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater: Welcome to the NFL


Two of the biggest names from this year’s draft class saw playing time on Sunday. 2014 first round quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater both saw extensive time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings, respectively. Both quarterbacks saw their teams lose, but they signal a new beginning for the flagging franchises.

Bortles came in for an inept Chad Henne in Jacksonville’s home opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Henne finished the first half just four of seven passing for all of 33 yards. He led numerous three and outs for the Jaguar offense, failing to inspire anything from the passing game, running game, or even the blocking along the offensive line. He was sacked three times and hit five times from a defense that had only got to the quarterback once in two games.

When Blake Bortles arrived to start the second half he seemingly inspired everyone around him to play better. The offensive line (which was still bad, unfortunately) allowed just one more sack and two more hits. The ball came out faster. The receivers were able to get some space and make some plays. Even the defense suddenly had life and forced Pat McAfee to stop tanning on the bench and punt the ball twice. Bortles finished the day 14 of 24 for 223 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He looked completely in control of the offense and while a lot of his yardage and one touchdown came in garbage time he proved that he can be a much more effective leader than Henne.

Teddy Bridgewater also signaled the beginning of a new era in Minnesota. With a struggling Matt Cassel completing just 50% of his passes for a meager 53 yards, Bridgewater just needed to step in and prove he was better than mediocre. The Vikes hedged their bets at the start of the season, keeping Ponder and Cassel on along with the most pro-ready rookie from this year’s draft class. Bridgewater got the nod and showed why he deserved to be a first round pick in the draft. He finished the day 12 of 20 for 150 yards in a 9-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints. As a Minnesota native, I’m excited to see what he can do when he is handed the reins next week.

While Bridgewater didn’t take the same risks that Bortles did, both players displayed the skills needed to lead an NFL caliber offense. Both players proved they have the tools to be effective leaders.

#FreeBortles and #FreeTeddy are officially over.

On behalf of the NFL fanbase, I would like to say Welcome to the NFL.