After the Saints acquired Teddy Bridgewater from the Jets in late August 2018, Joe Brady — then an offensive assistant with New Orleans — spent a lot of time with the quarterback to bring him up to speed on the offense. So in this unusual offseason, the Panthers have found an advantage in that previous connection.
While there will certainly be changes to the scheme the pair helped run with the Saints, the comfort level between them means Bridgewater has been able to raise the understanding of the offense for those around him.
"Everybody that's met Teddy Bridgewater, he makes everybody better," Brady told reporters during a video conference call Thursday. "(W)e had a day where we had Teddy running the meetings. I think that that's critical, having a guy that understands a good amount of the system and what we're doing, but also has an idea of football and being able to explain it and teach it to others.
"I think from a quarterback standpoint, when you're able to install a play, you're able to communicate terminology — even if it's different than what you've known in the past — it just shows how valuable you are."
Bridgewater hasn't been a full-time starter since suffering a career-threatening knee injury in August 2016. But he did go 5-0 for the Saints last year when a thumb injury sidelined starter Drew Brees.
Brady believes the time he and Bridgewater spent together back in 2018 helped him grow significantly as a coach because it allowed him to teach the offense to a quarterback. Plus, it gave him some valuable insight into how Bridgewater thinks and learns. So when head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Marty Hurney targeted the 27-year-old quarterback this spring, Brady was all for it.
"I knew what we had in Teddy Bridgewater," Brady said. "I know the type of winning football that he has (played) and is going to play. So I'm excited for him to finally be able to do that again."
Here are some more highlights from Brady's virtual press conference.
On the Panthers' depth at quarterback:
"I think it's been a great offseason for that room with the quarterbacks: Teddy, Will (Grier), and P.J. (Walker). I've learned just as much from them as they've learned from me. I think that (quarterbacks coach) Jake Peetz has done a great job of teaching the offense to them and seeing their recall and their competitiveness, their intelligence. I love the direction and I love the men that we have in that room."
On designing an offense with RB Christian McCaffrey as a featured player:
"You walk into this job and you get to coach Christian McCaffrey — I don't know how many coaches have the opportunity to coach a player of his caliber. So the thing for us is, to me, he's a running back and he can do everything. But to label him strictly a running back is an injustice to him. So I think a guy like Christian McCaffrey, he can play literally any position on the football field. I think it's going to be to our advantage to be able to do that. And I think a critical element to this offense is not just allowing people to know where players are going to be at all times, trying to utilize different formations, different tempos or personnel groupings to create the mismatches that you want. So Christian is one of the pieces that definitely is going to be a driving force of our offense."
On the high amount of touches McCaffrey has received over the past two seasons:
"I think Christian had 429 touches this past year. That's a lot, obviously, but if there's one person that can take it — one person that takes care of his body the way that he does — is Christian McCaffrey. I can't sit here and tell you guys, 'Hey, the number's 400. The number's 350.' I can't. I think every single game, it'll be different. I think a lot of it will come down to the rest of the personnel on our team and figuring out how they're going to be utilized. There is an expectation of Mike Davis, of Reggie Bonnafon, of Jordan Scarlett, (of) Rodney Smith to elevate their game as well. So depending on how that running back room and wide receiver room and tight end room goes, a lot of that will factor into Christian McCaffrey's touches. Christian McCaffrey will get his touches. If we weren't getting the ball to Christian McCaffrey also, I wouldn't be doing my job."
On Carolina's depth at guard:
"I'm excited about the acquisitions that we had at the offensive line. I think a thing that's great is when you bring in a John Miller or Michael Schofield, guys that have familiarity with (offensive line) Coach (Pat) Meyer and have an understanding of how he teaches. You have that and the addition of Dennis Daley and Chris Reed in that guard position. It excites me. They are exactly what we're looking for. To pair it with (Matt) Paradis up front, to be able to stop those two guys at the line of scrimmage so the quarterback can press up in the pocket. I love the acquisitions that we've done up front."
On DJ Moore's productive 2019 and what he envisions for him moving forward:
"DJ is a dynamic wide receiver. He was one of the first men I met when I got this job. He came by and I told him that I'm excited to see this year for him. I have high expectations for DJ. ... I'm excited to see him develop and take his game to the next level. But to set a benchmark or expectations, I'm not going to put that on him. I'm sure he has his own goals, but I have a clear vision of how to utilize DJ in our offense, just like the rest of our wide receivers."
On what Robby Anderson brings to the offense:
"I'm from South Florida. I know the type of football player that Robby Anderson has been for a long time. The first thing that Robby obviously brings is a dynamic ability and speed. But Robby is not just a speed wide receiver. He has incredible hands. He can make big plays on the football and go up for the ball. He's dynamic with the ball in his hands. I'm excited with the acquisitions that we had in the wide receiver room, in addition to the receivers that we had already on this football team. When you're an offensive coordinator and trying to utilize personnel and identify mismatches, you look around your roster, and you feel confident in the type of guys, especially the skill guys, that you have on your team."
On his early assessment of Curtis Samuel:
"Curtis can be critical to our success. I know I wish I could've had an opportunity to be out at practices and what not, and Curtis is the one that I can't wait to see him do what he does best. I think Curtis is a playmaker. He fits the mold of what we're looking for in this type of offense. He's a guy you can utilize all over the field and get the ball in his hands and good things happen. You saw stuff last year that shows he can be a big play wide receiver down the field and getting the ball in space. I'm excited for him to take the next leap."
On whether he'll coach from press box or sidelines:
"That's something we've had discussions about. I've always been in the box. I've enjoyed being in the box. I always feel like the game slows down in the box, but that's something where I've talked with Coach Rhule, and we'll discuss as the time comes. I do have a comfort level of being around the guys and the feel and the emotion of being on the field. So that might be something come preseason time that we might do. Say, two games up, two games down. But that's not something that I'm very concerned about."
View photos of the new Panthers quarterback's journey through the NFL.