One of my favorite rappers is Andre 3000. The way he skates over a beat with rhythmic and effortless precision is a beautiful thing. You can hardly tell if he’s spitting something he’s written or flowing off the top of the dome. Some people have it like that… even their improvisation is smooth.
It’s the same thing in sports. When a quarterback’s protection breaks down and he’s forced to leave the comfort of the pocket to scramble and make a play, or it’s 4th and long with the game on the line and the next play is the difference between celebrating in the locker room or a barrage of social media slander, does he skate over the beat effortlessly, making a play that has everyone looking in surprised disbelief or does he have you wishing you hit the skip button?
For the second week in a row, Teddy Bridgewater’s freestyling has made us want to hit the skip button. Against the Broncos, it was his decision to run a play on a critical 3rd down before the 2-minute warning – hoping to catch Denver slipping – only to have the pass fall incomplete due to miscommunication. This week on 1st and goal from the 1-yard line, Bridgewater’s attempt to jump over the pile for the score was fumbled, recovered by Green Bay and returned to the Carolina 47. Seven plays later Packers’ running back Aaron Jones scampers in for the 8 yard touch down. Just like that…a 14-point swing.
“That play was emblematic,” Rhule said when asked about the fumble. “You talk about dramatic shift. Had he done that on fourth down, I can live with it. Just not on first down, especially when I think we ran the ball well when we did run it tonight. That’s just a principle of our team. We don’t reach the ball across the goal line until fourth down.”
“Just trying to compete,” Bridgewater said after the 16-24 loss when asked about his decision. “Trying to make a play, but this situation – it’s first down and it’s just sneak. I heard the guys from the other team calling out the sneak. I thought they were going to go low, so I was going to try to go over the top. But of all the times that I’ve run the sneak, I’ve always just followed the wedge and I can’t get to that moment and do anything different.”
The pressure is getting to Bridgewater. Going 0-7 and now 0-8 on game-winning drives would have anyone willing to try anything to get that monkey off their back. I get it. His intentions are good. He wants to win, but he can’t freestyle. Teddy has to write his rhymes down and practice before he goes in the booth. He’s not the type of quarterback who will impress you with his improvisation. He’s the type of quarterback that’s safe and reliable. He’s Will Smith. He’s MC Hammer. Everything is good as long as he’s sticking to the safe “Can’t Touch This” script, but as soon as he goes “Pumps in the Bump” things go left. There’s nothing wrong with knowing your lane. Plenty of quarterbacks have made lots of money and won plenty of games sticking to the script. Now it’s time for Teddy to stick to his.