In the five months since joining the Broncos, Teddy Bridgewater has not only been an impactful passer, but also an impactful leader.
Bridgewater has had to overcome the odds time and time again in his life and in his career, including the devastating knee injury he suffered in 2016 that nearly cost him his future in the NFL along with his ability to walk.
Those challenges are part of what made Bridgewater who he is: calm, confident and composed in the pocket, a leader with the respect of his teammates, and a steady, reliable signal-caller.
When Bridgewater takes the field on Sunday in New York, he'll be that same person leading the offense, and he'll do so as the first Black quarterback to start a season opener for the Broncos. Marlin Briscoe — the former Broncos quarterback who helped pave the way as the first Black quarterback to start an NFL game in the Super Bowl era — told The Denver Post's Sean Keeler that he likes what he's seen from Bridgewater so far as a passer and as a person.
"He's a very interesting kid," Briscoe said of Bridgewater. "From what I have seen of his play, (he) doesn't seem to get rattled. He has the temperament (to) block out any negativity that happens to him and go on to the next play. There's always the next play."
In his trailblazing role, Briscoe spent much of his career working to earn the approval of fans, teammates and coaches and had to keep a similar mindset.
"As such, he had to play well enough to win over the masses," Keeler wrote. "Fans. Teammates. Coaches. Front offices. Briscoe had to scrap for his chance, lighting a path for successors such as James Harris, Doug Williams, Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham — icons through the generations to come."
Briscoe, who had to overcome countless obstacles in his own career, sees Bridgewater's ability to handle adversity as his greatest strength — one that will translate to success on the field.
"It's good to have that type of mentality, that he's overcome adversity," Briscoe said. "And that's going to bode well for him in tight situations. And there will be tight situations."
Below the Fold
The Broncos' first- and second-round picks have both earned spots in CBS Sports' Week 1 rookie power rankings.
Ahead of the start of the regular season, Josh Edwards of CBS Sports projected the top 15 rookies most likely to have an immediate impact on their team's success. The Broncos are the only organization to have two entries in Edwards' top 10.
Pat Surtain II, ranked No. 1 overall by Edwards, has already flashed big-play potential with a pick-six in Week 1 of the preseason. The rookie CB out of Alabama joins a star-studded secondary composed of safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, along with corners Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby and Bryce Callahan. With so much talent at the CB position, Head Coach Vic Fangio should be free to move Surtain around and use him wherever he is most valuable in any given matchup. That flexibility could put Surtain in line for a big season packed with takeaways.
"Surtain should be a key player in a much-improved defensive unit," Edwards said. "I believed him to be the top cornerback prospect available in the draft and I expect him to play like it."
At No. 9 on Edwards' rankings is RB Javonte Williams, who impressed through training camp and preseason appearances. Though Edwards wrote that Williams was his top-ranked running back, he dropped Williams below Pittsburgh's Najee Harris, who is set to shoulder the bulk of rushing snaps alone. Williams is slated to start at RB2 behind Melvin Gordon, and will share reps as they hope to form a one-two punch out of the backfield.
"[Williams'] stats will be lagging behind Harris early in the season but do not be surprised if he comes on strong down the stretch," Edwards said.
If Surtain and Williams can meet the high expectations that have been set for them, it will go a long way in helping the Broncos snap a five-season playoff drought.