Eli Apple told Yahoo Sports late last season.’ data-reactid=”19″>“You see the formation, and you’re able to get a beat on the play before it happens,” cornerback Eli Apple told Yahoo Sports late last season.
Drew Brees sat with a thumb injury, that unselfishness is as good a place as any to start. ‘ data-reactid=”45″>So if you’re looking for a reason why the Saints rallied around Bridgewater last fall, when he went 5-0 as the starter while future Hall of Famer Drew Brees sat with a thumb injury, that unselfishness is as good a place as any to start.
Bridgewater goes from ‘Completion Thursday’ to big payday
Bridgewater’s extreme competitiveness often bubbled to the surface during those practices against the Saints’ first-string defense. While some backup quarterbacks are content to throw where they’re supposed to, giving the defense a cursory look during the week that allows for easy interceptions, Bridgewater was far too competitive for that. He used to openly tease his defensive teammates by calling Thursday, the day of the week the Saints’ first-string defense got most of the work in practice, “Completion Thursdays.”
“Just the way he attacks practice … I mean, he comes in and makes it fun going against the ones,” defensive end Cam Jordan told Yahoo Sports. “He’s like, ‘Hey, I call it ‘Completion Thursday’ or ‘Toast ’em Friday.’ He brings a competitive edge so we were ready for it.”
Bridgewater never let it interfere with his desire to help his teammates off the field, earning him kudos in the Saints’ locker room.
“He’s a solid dude, man — he’s been helping us for real,” Bell said. “We appreciate him … he shows a passion for this game and it’s real. It’s not fake. He’s gonna let you know how he feels.”
Bridgewater says he’d also eat chicken wings and watch Thursday Night Football with the defensive line after practice and do competition drills with the linebackers on Saturdays. Long ago, he learned the importance of leading from the front as a quarterback, and to him, that meant ingratiating himself to every position group as much as possible.
Bridgewater killed it during his starting run in 2019 — completing nearly 68 percent of his passes for 1,384 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions — his teammates couldn’t have been happier.’ data-reactid=”57″>And that’s why, when Bridgewater killed it during his starting run in 2019 — completing nearly 68 percent of his passes for 1,384 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions — his teammates couldn’t have been happier.
“It felt like a real close family member doing good, when you see him out there doing what he was doing,” Apple said.
Especially after everything Bridgewater has been through in his career. The former Louisville star was a first-round pick of the Vikings in 2014, earning a Pro Bowl appearance and leading Minnesota to an NFC North crown in 2015. But in 2016, he suffered a career-threatening non-contact knee injury that sidelined him nearly two years and ultimately led to his release in Minnesota. After a brief pit stop with the New York Jets, he was dealt to the Saints in 2018, where teammates say they’ve enjoyed watching him regain his old form.
“I wouldn’t say he was 100 percent healthy when he first got here, and we watched the work he put in,” Jordan said. “So it’s overly admirable, and that’s why he’s so respected.”
So much so that a funny thing started happening during his five-game starting run in 2019: Bridgewater says his teammates weren’t the only ones who seemed to be happy for him. Opposing defensive backs would warn him not to throw their way, but in the same vein, also tell him to keep being who he is and wish him the best.
“Man, there was a ton of support and it surprises me sometimes,” Bridgewater said. “When I was out there during that five-game stretch, guys on the opposite side of the ball were talking to me, having conversations, as if they’re not trying to take my head off and as if I’m not trying to beat those guys. It’s so cool man, the bond, the fraternity we have in this league. This year really opened my eyes.”
Much in the same way that Bridgewater’s stellar play opened up eyes around the league, setting up the significant payday he just received this offseason from Carolina.