Saints and Teddy Two-Gloves Keep Shutting Up the “Haters”

Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome yesterday afternoon, the name of the New Orleans Saints player being chanted over and over again by 70,00-plus screaming Who Dat fans during the team’s 31-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was unmistakable.

“TED-DY! TED-DY! TED-DY!” they all yelled in unison, the sound reverberating like a thunderous echo throughout the confines of the stadium.

Those chants were showered upon the young man who, not all that long ago, was probably one of the most unlikely people one would ever expect to get them: Saints’ back-up #2 QB Teddy Bridgewater, or as some have now begun calling him, “Teddy Two-Gloves.”

While most people receiving that immense level of adulation might typically allow it to go straight to their heads, that wasn’t the case with the 26-year old current Saints’ starting quarterback. During the team’s post-game press conference with local media, Bridgewaterr chose to remain humble in his comments and instead took the proverbial “high road.”

“Stats mean nothing to me,” Bridgewater said, “It was a team effort today. It’s not about the numbers.”

One certainly couldn’t blame Bridgewater if he had taken a more cynical or negative tone in his commentary, given the amount of disrespect that he’s endured from critics and even a sizable portion of the Saints fan-base, who at times have openly expressed their opinions about what they believe is his inability to become a #1 starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL.

But “Teddy Two-Gloves” isn’t worried what any of the “haters” have had to say in that regard, because for him it comes down to one simple thing: winning football games.

“The best feeling about today was running off the field (with a win) into the tunnel and seeing the fans’ faces, (and then) walking into this locker room and seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces,” Bridgewater said.

“It’s a great feeling to win football games,” Bridgewater explained. “The locker room is special. The group of guys that show up to work everyday, and they demand greatness out of everyone. The standard is held high. Being able to be a part of something where it’s such a high standard, you continue to be motivated and want more.”

That said, if there were any lingering doubts about Bridgewater’s ability to lead the Saints to victories week-to-week while Drew Brees remains out of the starting line-up as he recovers from surgery on a torn thumb-ligament, they should have been erased after the former University of Louisville star had one of the best games of his entire career.

Bridgewater completed 26 of 34 passes for 314 yards along with four touchdowns and avoided being sacked. His one interception came when RB Alvin Kamara had a catchable pass bounce off his hands. In all, Bridgewater completed 76.5% of his passes, which qualifies as one of his better performances since he entered the League back in 2014. But perhaps more importantly, Bridgewater may have finally put to rest the misconception that he is nothing more than a “dink and dunk” NFL QB. He clearly demonstrated that he can in fact throw the ball down-field and be an effective deep-ball passer.

Bridgewater was able to complete a total of five passes that gained 20 yards or more, and he threw another eight passes that went for completions of at least 15 yards or more. In fact, during one stretch early in the second half, Bridgewater threw a pass completion for 42 yards to All-Pro WR Michael Thomas, and then followed it up just a few plays later with a 33-yard strike to an uncovered WR Ted Ginn, Jr., who was wide-open down the middle of the field in the end zone.

Given those numbers and the fact that he’s now led the Black and Gold to its third straight win since taking over for Brees, it would seem that his “haters” and biggest detractors obviously had him pegged all wrong.

But instead of choosing to rub it in and get the last laugh, “Teddy Two-Gloves” was already focused and looking ahead at getting prepared for next week when the Saints travel to the east coast of Florida to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That was music to the ears of Saints’ head coach Sean Payton, whose unwavering faith in Bridgewater has paid off in spades, allowing New Orleans to reel off three consecutive victories in impressive fashion and compiling a (4-1) overall win-loss record that has given them the lead in the NFC South Division.

“He got into a rhythm,” Payton said after the game.”I just felt like we did a good job protecting for him. We got the ball down the field more.”

While the team’s goal yesterday was clearly to get the passing game unleashed and become more efficient under Bridgewater’s guidance, it can’t be overstated just how well the team has come together. They are playing phenomenally in all aspects ⁠— especially on defense and special teams.

None of their biggest critics really believed the Saints would be able to continue winning games with Bridgewater playing quarterback. In fact, they doubted the Black and Gold’s chances of winning any games without Brees, period.

The past three weeks have seen many well-respected analysts and so-called experts who cover the League daily have to “eat some crow” for underestimating the team’s resiliency and “never-say-die” attitude.

“That’s great, man,” said Ginn outside his locker after the game, alluding to the echoing chants of 70,000 screaming Who Dat fans for Bridgewater and his phenomenal performance. “It shows that the fans are buying into him. It shows that the fans are really behind him.”

That previously-mentioned segment of fans who still doubted Bridgewater up to the start of the game yesterday now appears to be finally coming around.

The Saints and Teddy Two-Gloves keep shutting up the “haters” and they probably aren’t done just yet.

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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