Brian Flores: ‘It’s about getting 11 guys on the same page’
Ready for Teddy?
Bridgewater, that is.
The quarterback from Miami Northwestern could be coming home.
Bridgewater was reportedly set to re-sign with the Saints but pulled a stunning about-face Wednesday, not only talking to the Dolphins about a contract, but visiting the team’s training complex in Davie.
He left team headquarters after 9 p.m. without a deal.
News of this discreet rendezvous came within the first hour of the league new year, as deals negotiated in the past days and weeks became official.
But the Dolphins had work to do. Their quarterback situation remained fluid.
Ryan Tannehill, he of the $26.6 million cap figure, was expected to be cut. But he remained on the roster as of 8 p.m. (Same for defensive end Robert Quinn, who also has a huge cap figure.)
That might be because the Dolphins still had hopes to trade Tannehill.
Or, it might be because they need any starting quarterback, after Tyrod Taylor agreed to a deal with the Chargers.
That turned the available veteran quarterback pool into a puddle.
So focus returned to Bridgewater, who spends the offseason in South Florida.
The signing would come with risk. The first-round pick by the Vikings out of Louisville has not been a full-time starting quarterback since 2015.
He suffered a gruesome knee injury during the 2016 training camp, missing all of that season and most of the next.
But after a strong preseason with the Jets in 2018, he was traded to the Saints, who viewed him as the heir apparent to Drew Brees.
So why chose Miami? The Dolphins can offer him a starting job now, and, according to ESPN, would sign with Miami if Chris Grier and Brian Flores upped their offer just a little.
We know Dolphins quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell was a fan — or at least was in 2014, when Caldwell was coach of the Lions and Bridgewater was a rookie.
“This guy is a good player,” Caldwell said at the time, according to the Detroit News. “I looked at him coming out closely, and this guy can think on his feet. He can deliver the ball, he’s very good in terms of analyzing defenses (and) he does it quickly.
“The other thing is that he gets outside of the pocket. He’s like Russell Wilson.”
Bridgewater’s career was on an upward trajectory.
He made the Pro Bowl in his second season, completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns. And more importantly, the Vikings made the playoffs.
Hopes were high the following training camp.
But they came crashing down when Bridgewater went down in a heap during an August practice. He was dropping back to pass when his left knee simply came apart.
Forget playing again. Doctors feared he might lose the leg altogether.
“It was just a horribly grotesque injury,” Dan Cooper, Bridgewater’s surgeon, told ESPN.com last summer. “It’s mangled. You make the skin incision, and there’s nothing there. It’s almost like a war wound. Everything is blown.”
Cooper added: “This surgery was an absolute gut test, a test of what you’re made of, and I’ve seen it break people down. I never saw it break Teddy down. ... Most people have no idea the volume of the workload this kid had to put in. He had a toothpick of a leg he had to rebuild.”
It took the better part of two years.
He missed all of 2016, and was third on the depth chart behind Case Keenum and Sam Bradford in 2017.
But he persevered.
The Jets gave him a shot in 2018, and made the most of it in training camp.
He completed 73.7 percent of his passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 104.7.
Suddenly, he was a hot commodity again. The Saints gave up a third-round pick for his 2018 rights.
Sean Payton reportedly wants Bridgewater to someday be New Orleans’ starting quarterback.
And he still may.
But the allure of coming home and starting this year is strong.
Grier and Flores spent Wednesday night making their best pitch.
We’ll find as soon if it was enough.