Panthers’ Matt Rhule responds to Teddy Bridgewater’s criticisms: ‘I like what we do.’

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In his first public comments since the Carolina Panthers traded him last month, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater offered some advice for the Panthers.

“For Joe Brady’s growth, I think that organization will have to practice different things in different ways,” Bridgewater said on the All Things Covered podcast. “Like one of the things we didn’t do much of when I was there, we didn’t practice two-minute, really. We didn’t practice red zone.”

The comments drew surprise from the podcast’s hosts Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden, who said their teams had an entire practice day dedicated to two-minute drills and red-zone offense.

When asked Tuesday night about Bridgewater’s comments, Rhule said, “I like what we do.”

“We try to address a lot of different situations,” Rhule said about his practices. “But I feel good about our preparation and the amount of work our coaches put in.

“You can’t ask everyone to agree with everything. But again, I feel really good about what we do. I’m disappointed to hear he didn’t feel the same way.”

The Panthers traded Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos last month in exchange for a sixth-round pick after spending one year with the team. When asked did he get a fair shake with the Panthers, Bridgewater said he understood that the NFL was a business and knows there were some things that he could have done better.

Rhule, who reiterated Wednesday he had the utmost respect for Bridgewater as a professional and as a person, had been open about Bridgewater and the Panthers’ offensive struggles this offseason before the trade.

The Panthers, and Bridgewater in particular, struggled in red-zone efficiency and late-game situations in 2020.

Bridgewater was 0-for-8 in game-winning or game-tying drives. And the Panthers scored a touchdown on only 50.9% of their red-zone trips, which was 28th out of 32 teams in the NFL.

But Bridgewater also said on the podcast that there were some things that the organization could have done better.

“I guess the game is becoming about science and trying to keep guys healthy,” Bridgewater said. “We didn’t practice on Fridays there, but you walk-through the red-zone stuff. And on Saturday you come out and practice red zone but you get only 15 live reps, and guy’s reps would be limited.”

Rhule recently spoke to a group of high school coaches in a coaching clinic held by UNC coach Mack Brown. He said on Thursdays the team focused on third-down and two-minute situations. And Saturday they focused on red zone. Wednesday’s were reserved for first and second down.

“We try to have a specific day for each,” Rhule said. “There’s been other years where we kind of melded them, done a little bit of third down every day, a little bit of red zone every day. I try to usually leave that up to my coordinators, how they feel most comfortable.”

The 2020 season was Bridgewater’s first full since as a starter since he injured his knee in 2015. He threw for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 15 games. He was 4-11 as a starter.

But Bridgewater said he felt like he left his mark in Carolina.

“The way I looked at it, I told Curtis Samuel I’m going to get you paid, and he got paid,” he said. “He had a career year. Robby Anderson had his first 1,000-yard season of his career. DJ Moore had the most yards of his career. Mike Davis, over 1,000 yards from the line of scrimmage.

“The way I look at it, it’s a win for me. Yeah, OK, they traded me or whatever, but I left a mark with those guys that I wanted to.”

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