I'd start him ASAP. Once in there, stay committed no matter what (unless he can't physically do his job).
“It typically takes a quarterback time to regain confidence in a surgically repaired knee,” he argued. “It took Sam Bradford about 10 weeks to fully recover from his second ACL tear; he was a bad quarterback during that stage but thrived over the second half of that season.
“That’s the quandary with Bridgewater. There’s a strong chance he’s worse than Keenum in the short term but he needs to play if he’s going to be valuable in the long term. In the long term you know you’re not winning a Super Bowl with Keenum. You’re probably not with Bridgewater this year either but he offers you a better chance”
Bradford seems to be the worst-case scenario. Joe Flacco immediately returned to form in 2016 from his 2015 ACL tear, a time lag of 295 days between injury and first start.
Donovan McNabb played at a Pro Bowl level before his ACL tear in 2006 and though he didn’t make a Pro Bowl again until 2009, played much like his older self a few weeks into the 2007 season, with a standout performance in Week 3 — a perfect passer rating on 26 attempts against the Detroit Lions. It took 309 days between injury and a high-level performance for McNabb.
Carson Palmer suffered the first of two ACL tears at a similar time, in January of 2006. A Pro Bowl year for the former Cincinnati Bengal, Palmer returned to the Pro Bowl the next year in a season where it didn’t take long to put together a classic performance. In Week 3, he threw four touchdown passes and two interceptions on 26 passes to beat the Steelers with a 98.2 passer rating.
That performance was only 206 days removed from his initial injury. That might even be too conservative, as Palmer had a lights-out preseason performance that year, throwing for three touchdowns on only 14 passes against the Green Bay Packers in late August — a month before his Steelers performance.
Later in his career, Palmer re-tore his ACL with the Arizona Cardinals in 2014, a year that he was on track for another Pro Bowl appearance. Instead, he had to settle for that appearance after the 2015 season, where he led the league in yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt and ESPN total QBR. He dominated early on, with three touchdowns and no interceptions on 32 attempts against the New Orleans Saints for a passer rating of 122.8.
The lag between injury and highlight performance was 309 days in that case.
There’s an argument that Bridgewater didn’t throw many touchdowns in his 2015 season, and therefore he’s not particularly special, but that’s not a particularly complete argument; Keenum has thrown a touchdown on 3.0 percent of his passes, while Bridgewater threw a touchdown on 3.3 percent of his.
In fact, Bridgewater threw with a higher yards per attempt in 2015 than Keenum has this year, and with higher adjusted yards per attempt.
All of this is with a significantly worse offensive line — one that ranked dead last in advanced pass protection statistics, standard pass protection statistics and contemporary film-oriented lists — and a receiving corps that cycled through Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson before settling on a less-developed Thielen.
One interesting way to evaluate quarterbacks that strips away some of the problems that come with using touchdowns and interceptions as well as the issues that come with poor playcalling is evaluating performance on third-and-long. Because offenses tend not to attempt to convert third-and-13 or longer, it’s most appropriate to look at passes thrown on third down with between seven and 12 yards to go.
Bridgewater converted those third downs at a 38.1 percent clip, good for ninth-best in the NFL. Bradford, with a somehow even worse offensive line but marginally better weapons, converted third-and-long at a 26.9 percent clip, 27th in the NFL. Keenum, in a much friendlier environment, converted 28 percent of third-and-long plays into a first down, ranking 24th.