Teddy Bridgewater’s road debut for the Carolina Panthers didn’t go according to plan.
The Carolina Panthers fell to their second straight defeat to start the 2020 season at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This was the start that most experts probably predicted for the Carolina Panthers. But it doesn’t make it any easier to digest. A slow start put pay to their chances of getting a notable upset at Raymond James Stadium and although they produced a much-improved display after the break, some crucial errors down the stretch condemned them to another loss.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater came into the game looking to build on a positive debut. To say this never materialized would be something of an understatement.
Teddy Bridgewater’s difficult afternoon cost the Carolina Panthers.
The big-money signing for the Panthers in free agency endured a torrid time for the most part. This was down to some poor decision-making under pressure that resulted in three interceptions and a fumble on the day.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the Bucs’ scored 17 points off Bridgewater’s turnovers.
His performance was all the naysayers needed to get the knives out on social media. Large sections of Carolina’s fanbase remain fiercely loyal to their former signal-caller Cam Newton and this really comes across when Bridgewater doesn’t do enough to earn their trust in certain situations.
It’s easy to forget that Bridgewater has only been with his new teammates in person for around a month thanks to a disrupted offseason period. Chemistry and timing were a real issue at times and the sooner the former first-round pick can get on the same page with his wide receivers, then the better the Panthers’ chances will be in terms of progressing steadily as the season goes on.
Bridgewater’s interior protection wasn’t at the level we saw against the Raiders. Michael Schofield gave up his second sack in as many games and John Miller was also burned by Ndamukong Suh consistently.
Making excuses for the quarterback is all well and good. But the simple fact of the matters is that Bridgewater has to be better.
His throwing velocity and ability to read progressions quickly left a lot to be desired on occasions. And there was a real hesitancy to get the ball downfield in the fourth quarter during a drive that required more urgency.
There is no denying the fact it was a difficult afternoon for Bridgewater. Much is expected of the player after he signed a three-year, $63 million deal with a $15 million signing bonus, and $33 million guaranteed this offseason. But it is worth remembering that this is the first time since 2015 that he has occupied a prominent starting role.
Bridgewater and the Panthers are a work in progress, of that there is little doubt. He eventually finished the Bucs’ game with 367 passing yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions, one fumble, completing 78.6 percent of his passes for a QBR of 83.6.
Don’t let the impressive pass completion percentage fool you, though.
This padded stat came from check-downs that were wide open late as the Bucs’ defense that was willing to give up short yardage to preserve their lead. Bridgewater’s lack of confidence in his own ability to make plays deep was especially telling in crunch time and it remains to be seen whether this area can improve once the signal-caller firmly finds his feet.
Yes, the Panthers are 0-2. And the longer this goes on the more speculation will come surrounding possibly being in a position to take Clemson sensation, Trevor Lawrence, in the 2021 NFL Draft.
That alone should give Bridgewater an increased sense of urgency. There is much work to be done and the pressure will be well and truly on when the Panthers visit the Los Angeles Chargers next weekend.