Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took center stage on both Sunday and Monday. His action on game day – or lack of it – caused viral outrage not only in Broncos Country.
After Denver running back Melvin Gordon fumbled with the Eagles 20-13 up front, Bridgewater had the chance to tackle endzone-bound cornerback Darius Slay but made a business – some would say cowardly – decision.
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Incredibly, the Broncos didn’t score another goal after Slay’s game of the game. The loss itself was annoying enough without Bridgewater’s absence of physicality. His apathy for tackling a duel was evident to the world, including his embattled head coach.
“Coach [Vic Fangio] indicated that my efforts must be better there, ”Bridgewater told reporters on November 15. “I totally agree. This is not the kind of band that I want to get out of there. It’s one of those situations that you get pissed off after watching it because you know how much this game means to you. Guys are out there trying to do a play. Feel like you have a little bit of help running towards the sideline trying to force a cutback.
“In real time, it feels like everything is happening quickly – let’s force a cut. But when you slow it down it’s like, ‘Man, just try harder.’ You look at it and walk away mad at yourself. Credit Slay – he did a great piece too. It’s one of those deals that we have guys trying to do the tackle on. At that moment I just had to explain everything for the boys. “
The cold reality is that he didn’t. It’s indispensable, no matter how confused and unprepared Bridgewater may have been. At first he thought Gordon was down, expecting a whistle to be blown – which would stop the rewind. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with all of the orange and blue.
“It kind of surprised me, but at the same time I’m right there [with an] Opportunity to just dive down, sacrifice and do whatever I can to help the team right now. I’ve failed and I stand by it. As a football player and as a member of his team, this is unacceptable. You play this game and you risk everything every week. It’s one of those moments when I just have to accept that I didn’t give everything I had in me on this piece. I understand that there will be a backlash. “
Despite suggestions, the play summed up the Broncos season and, in particular, confirmed doubts that Bridgewater is “the guy,” he says otherwise.
“It doesn’t define me as a man and a soccer player,” Bridgewater told the Denver media. “We get this bye week to have some time and just reflect and embrace the good, accept the bad, embrace the bad, and just move forward. We cannot keep the idea of Sunday in coming. We can’t let that decide about the rest of the season. “
Understandably, teammates had words with the Broncos quarterback. Giving up a game that turned out to be so important in the context of the game inevitably had an impact on the dressing room.
“Yeah. The guys talked to me about the piece,” Bridgewater admitted. “I’m not going to share what we talked about, but it was great that the coach said it in the team meeting. We talk about it, each other This is a moment when I won’t sink into my chair or feel bad when the coach challenged me. I take full responsibility for what happened. Coach called me and I’m holding on Responsible for it. We all have a standard that we live by here. I’m glad the coach called me to show, ‘Hey man. We need more of you here.’ It happened.”
As for its general harshness, Bridgewater doesn’t think this should be questioned. Despite the criticism, he will not question his own character. For the 28-year-old, grit goes way beyond rust.
“I’m not worried that my toughness will be challenged,” he said. “I know how strong I am physically and mentally. I know how tough I am physically and mentally from what I’ve been through in life. Nothing compares to some of the things I’ve been through in life. I am not worried that my toughness will be questioned. We have a tough group of men here on this soccer team. Nor do I question their harshness.
Follow Patrick Djordjevic on Twitter: @Patdjordjevic