ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The number 18 was dominated by the quarterback decision that Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio faced throughout the off-season, right through to his pick on the fourth Wednesday of August from Teddy Bridgewater to Drew Lock.
No. 18 as in Peyton Manning, whose historic four-year run ended with 50 Broncos wins, four AFC West titles, two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl 50 win after the 2015 season.
No. 18 as in the starts Drew Lock had in his young career, but also the number of interceptions he threw in those games.
No. 18 as in days to a very important season opener for Fangio and the Broncos.
The Broncos have been little more than an overzealous hub at the quarterback since Manning left. Ten different players, including running back Phillip Lindsay, have opened a game behind the middle since Manning strolled into the Hall of Fame’s sunset. By overtaking Lock in a “close” match, Bridgewater will now be number 11.
Bridgewater earned the job to be safe. He was stable, kept the pace of the offense in practice and in preseason games, was productive, and the offense rarely took a pre-snap penalty in practice when behind the center.
In his 40 snaps in two preseason games together, he completed 84.2% of his passes, threw no interception and did not take a sack. The Broncos scored three touchdowns and one field goal on these four holdings.
Lock completed 66.7% of his passes, had two touchdowns, no interceptions, and was fired twice. In his 47 games in these two preseason games, the Broncos scored two touchdowns, three field goals, had two punts, and turned the ball over into eight possession on downs.
Both had their chances of starting a game as well as playing with many second and potential third players.
They shared the work with the starters during training, faced the Broncos’ own starting defense with almost exactly the same number of snaps and consistently worked well together along the way. Bridgewater helped Lock and Lock pushed Bridgewater forward.
“I secretly sat back and learned all I could from Teddy,” said Lock. “And I think one of the special things he does that I will bring to my game over and over again is the way he communicates, how he speaks, how he works after training.”
But in the end, this is a coaching baton with the head coach in the third year of a four-year deal who has gone 0-0 September en route to the Broncos’ fourth and fifth straight playoffs for the past two seasons. With this lens, Bridgewater’s current reliability outperforms Lock’s potential on-the-fly growth.
The NFL is a lot of things, but it would be hard to find fairness that is high on the list.
Was a 2020 COVID-19 season completely fair to Lock?
Was his team’s continued reliance on a group of people that obviously didn’t put him in the best position to do Lock justice?
Is a win-now mentality towards Lock completely fair?
No, no and no, probably. But as Manning so famously said, “Every interception has a story and nobody wants to hear it.”
Fangio broke the news to Lock and Bridgewater on Wednesday morning. He told everyone he considered her a quarterback.
For Lock, a 2019 second-round pick for the Broncos, it’s a bit of a moment that I’m walking from here. After a significant improvement after an offseason in which he held his nose on the quarterback grindstone, he is a backup and loses a starting job for the first time in his sporting life.
“The hardest part was getting it and then going to the team meeting and knowing it was going to be discussed,” said Lock.
Lock said Fangio explained the decision as follows: “It just came down to being able to choose a little from his experience, that it was time to make a choice and it was close. That you two starters in this matter are.” League.”
Nothing is over for Lock. Manning himself threw 43 interceptions together in his first two seasons and had two seasons with 23 or more interceptions in his first four years in the league. How that would have played out in the boom-or-bust world of social media today is a tricky exercise for later.
There are many # 2 quarterbacks teams with far less potential than Lock who may now be calling Broncos CEO George Paton in the days ahead.
But right now, for this team, those sales are above Lock’s résumé. He was tied to leading the league in interceptions on those 13 starts in 2020 and was most recently in the league in terms of completion percentage. But his gifts, the work ethic he showed from the end of the 2020 season to the day Fangio chose Bridgewater, are still very much in his favor.
Bridgewater has and can help Lock get better. Bridgewater, if Lock does its part now, can help get Lock to the other side of the quarterback decision on another day.