The Dolphins are starting another quarterback this week against the New York Jets. Teddy Bridgewater makes it 24 starting quarterbacks since the retirement of Dan Marino. 

Bridgewater will make his first start for Miami after he entered Thursday’s game in relief of Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a scary concussion. Tagovailoa is still in concussion protocol, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he missed more than one game. 

Instead of diving into Tagovailoa’s film like we usually do, we’re going to look at the man replacing him. 

My brief thoughts on Tagovailoa’s brief performance? He had some nice touch throws and was accurate to the places he’s usually accurate. His INT was quite bad, and while this isn’t even close to the most important thing, he had multiple open receivers on the play he got hurt. 

Getting back to Bridgewater, he finished Thursday’s game completing 14-of-23 passes for 193 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. 

Let’s see what should be expected of him this coming week against the Jets. 

A Look Back at the Stats

Bridgewater has been around a long time and has started on four different teams — Vikings, Saints, Panthers, and Broncos — during his career. It would be slightly irresponsible to not look at some of his numbers because Thursday’s night game was a short week, and he wasn’t even supposed to play. 

It’s not a good sample size for stats, nor an accurate film representation of what he’s capable of. 

Let’s focus on last season. He started 14 games for the Broncos and finished with a 7-7 record. He completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 3,052 yards (23rd in the league) and 18 (21st in the league) touchdowns while throwing just seven interceptions. 

Nothing about those numbers screams “quality starting quarterback,” which is likely why Bridgewater is Miami’s backup. 

What those numbers truly scream is Bridgewater is a limited quarterback, who is just good enough to get the job done. 

Bridgewater did fair well in some advanced stats from last season, but they have caveats. He ranked 11th in EPA last season, eight spots higher than Tagovailoa, according to Sports Info Solutions. However, EPA is more of a team stat than an individual stat. 

SIS actually has its own stat — points earned — which accounts for each player’s individual impact better than something like EPA. Bridgewater finished 14th among qualified passes in that category last season, compared to Tagovailoa’s 22nd place finish. 

SIS also has a stat called independent quarterback rating, which is their improved version of quarterback rating, and Bridgewater ranked 19th last season compared to Tagovailoa’s 23rd ranking. 

I could go down the list of stats, but Bridgewater ranks somewhere between 12th and 19th in most of them. The stats back up exactly what his billing has been since he returned from injury several years ago. 

He can win some games when things around him are functional, but he’s not a franchise guy. 

The reason the comparisons to Tagovailoa’s stats were included is that the answer to the question: what should Dolphins fans expect from Bridgewater? Is: roughly what they got from Tagovailoa last season.

Evaluating Thursday’s Film

Bridgewater’s film from Thursday night reminded me a ton of how Tagovailoa played last season. Tagovailoa has shown some improvement this season, making Bridgewater’s play a downgrade right now, but Miami did win 9 games last season. 

The roster is much better this year and so is the offensive coaching, so there is no reason to panic about Bridgewater taking over. 

The two are still very similar from a strengths and weaknesses perspective. Both are accurate in the short to intermediate areas of the field. Both are solid pre-snap processors, but both have limited arm strength, and mobility while having a bad tendency to hesitate on open reads down the field. 

Miami’s offense might not be as efficient as it was with Tagovailoa at the helm, but conceptually, there is no reason to make a lot of changes. 

Let’s start with the easy stuff. Bridgewater excels in the short to intermediate areas of the field. He does a good job working off of play-action and RPO concepts. His accuracy in the quick game is probably his biggest asset as a passer. 

This throw to Sherfield stands out because the throw is on his right shoulder, preventing him from running directly into the dropping linebacker.  

Tagovailoa does this every week, allowing players like Hill and Waddle to generate YAC while keeping Miami’s offense on schedule. It’s all simple. Nothing about this is supposed to be impressive. 

The important takeaway is Miami can run all of the same crossing routes, slants, and glances against man coverage, and all of the curls, spots, and stop routes they run against zone coverage with either QB. 

The one drawback is Bridgewater’s ball handling and mirroring of footwork isn’t quite as good as Tagovailoa’s. RPOs might look a little clunkier, but Bridgewater can execute just fine. 

This play stood out because it’s a similar issue Tagovailoa has had throughout his career, although a little less so this season. 

Sometimes Bridgewater just refuses to throw the football. He starts to his right where Miami is running a three-man flood concept. That’s typically a zone beater, but Cincinnati is in man coverage, so he comes off of it. 

That’s a fine thought process and progression. However, when he comes back to his left, Jaylen Waddle wins his backside dig route immediately at the top of his break. 

Bridgewater is looking that way but doesn’t pull the trigger. Instead, he scrambles and gets bailed out by Sherfield on the sideline. 

He either didn’t see Waddle because he was trying to throw the check down to Edmonds instead, or he saw Waddle and didn’t pull the trigger. Either way, it’s bad. 

This was a consistent thread throughout the game, and if it persists, it will be the pitfall in his game that holds Miami back the most — not his arm strength. 

Speaking of arm strength, let’s talk about this absolute bomb to Tyreek Hill. This was by far the best throw Bridgewater made on Thursday night, and it’s impressive in comparison to Tagovailoa’s best passes as well. 

For starters, it’s an amazing play call that harkens back to what Buffalo did to Miami last week. The Bills played a lot of two-high shells, like the Bengals show pre-snap on this play, and used one of their high safeties to cover any motioned receiver. 

Watch the safety at the bottom of the screen react to the pre-snap motion.

McDaniel saw this last week. Saw the Bengals trying to do the same thing, and this time he sent Hill on a deep route right behind it. Even if it wasn’t the safeties’ job to take the motion man, he fell for it either way. 

For Bridgewater’s part, he delivers an accurate pass from his own 22-yard line to roughly the opposing 17. It’s a great throw, and it can’t be ignored. 

However, time has not been kind to Bridgewater’s arm. Clearly, he’s still got enough juice to muster the occasional bomb, but his throw-to-throw velocity is incredibly underwhelming. 

The ball floats on him outside the numbers, and he has to hitch/crow hop almost every time he tries to drive the ball into the middle of the field past 10 yards. There aren’t many quarterbacks that generate less velocity than Tagovailoa on certain throws, but Bridgewater is definitely in consideration. 


If we are being honest, all of this could’ve been summed up by the shrug emoji. Bridgewater is the embodiment of that at the quarterback position. 

That has a negative connotation, but it’s nice to say that your backup quarterback was a fringe top-20 player at his position last season in a lot of major stats. 

A lot of teams have backup quarterbacks who are fringe top-40 players at the position. 

Some have already started calling for seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson to play over Bridgewater. Thompson was great in the preseason, but the preseason is, historically, one of the worst indicators of long-term regular season success imaginable. 

Some recent examples of quarterbacks who balled out in the preseason? Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee was great in 2011 and 2010. How about Packers QB Brett Hundley’s strong performance in 2015? Don’t forget about Dolphins legend Jacoby Brissett having a strong 2017 preseason with the New England Patriots. 

The best example of an unknown QB having a stud preseason and turning into a good NFL starter is probably Tony Romo. That’s the outlier that proves the rule. 

Thompson could be Miami’s long-term backup and prevent the team from paying someone like Bridgewater in the future. This is not meant to take away from what he showed this preseason, but instead, to put it in the proper context. Playing Thompson over Bridgewater at this juncture would be a foolish decision. 

So what is Miami getting with Bridgewater? They’re getting basically what they got from Tagovailoa last season. Good enough to win, but not going to take you over the top, and there’s nothing wrong with that.