Watching Louisville's opener against Auburn on Saturday, I didn't see Teddy Bridgewater reincarnated in Lamar Jackson. And really, the comparison of the two doesn't seem to quite fit.
The first name that came to mind when I watched the Cardinals' newest signal-caller was a fellow Floridian that hails from just down the road from Jackson's native Boynton Beach.
So let's rewind to 2009, untie the murderbird shoelaces and slide down the Atlantic coast about 18 miles to Deerfield Beach. That year, another quarterback — "athlete" to be fair — also headed north to play his college football. His name was Denard Robinson, and he went to Michigan to play for Rich Rodriguez.
Like Jackson, Robinson was a four-star recruit ranked somewhere in the teens for his position (per Rivals). He had a blazing 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash and the common reputation that comes along with those kinds of numbers. He was an electrifying offensive player, capable of making plays himself.
Those kinds of players usually find a spot in college football, regardless of position. In Rodriguez's offense, he was a pretty good fit at quarterback. Observe (apologies for the dramatic intro):
Robinson's jittery footwork and straight-line speed made him capable of gaining a whole lot of yards whether the play was designed or broken. For comparison's sake, we can refer to Jackson's short highlights from his first game in a Louisville uniform.
The bottom line is this: Both Robinson and Jackson have a unique ability to make tacklers miss in the open field and wiggle their way out of less-than-ideal situations for big yardage. That comes from speed, sure, but it also comes from agility that not many are blessed with.
While at Michigan, Robinson set a school record for total offense and became the only player in history to rush (1,702 yards) and pass (2,570 yards) for over 1,500 yards in a single season in 2010.
If Jackson's 106 rushing yards and 100 passing yards in his freshman debut against Auburn are any indication, he certainly has the potential to challenge those numbers himself. After all, he didn't even play a full game on Saturday.
Robinson's college career was prolific, but Jackson also has a few things at his disposal that the Michigan man didn't have. They are as follows:
1. A taller frame — Robinson is 6-0 on a good day. Jackson is listed at either 6-2 or 6-3, depending on who you ask. In the passing game particularly, this is a good thing. It also helps with number two, which is...
2. Better arm strength — Jackson says he can throw a football 95 yards, something Robinson probably couldn't do. Even if 95 yards isn't fully true, there's little question that Jackson's arm is bigger than Robinson's was at Michigan.
3. A quarterback-friendly head coach — Rich Rodriguez is good at engineering effective offense, just not necessarily in the way that creates great passers. Bobby Petrino, on the other hand, likes to throw the ball plenty. He's also surrounded Jackson with a strong arsenal of targets at the wide receiver position for the foreseeable future.
Lamar Jackson isn't the next Teddy Bridgewater. Really, it'd be a waste of one of his greatest assets if he were. Part of what will make Jackson special is an ability to dazzle in the running game. And if he can produce a season like Denard Robinson did in 2010 at some point in his college career, how fun will that be to watch?
It's only been part of one game, even though that one game was a fairly big one. Bridgewater's legacy at Louisville is cemented and won't soon be duplicated. We'll soon find out what kind of legacy Jackson can forge on his own, but don't be surprised if it looks more like Denard Robinson's when all is said and done.