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Fangio: Lock should consider his plays ‘learning experiences, not failures’

The rookie showed improvement, and that’s what the coach was looking for.

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

If you watched the Broncos’s 22-14 loss to the Seahawks Thursday night with the sole hope of seeing Paxton Lynch go down in flames, you were severely disappointed (looking at you Tim Lynch and Jess Place!) as his stats on the night turned out to be the best of any quarterback on the field.

Of course, stats don’t tell the much bigger story about Lynch’s small probability for becoming a starting quarterback, but it’s not even worth talking about that again.

What is worth talking about, however, is how various Broncos fared in their performances - and what head coach Vic Fangio thought of it.

When it came to his starting quarterback Joe Flacco and second-round draft pick Drew Lock, the coach was about as complimentary of his signal callers as we’ve come to expect.

“I thought Joe looked comfortable,” he said, adding that Lock had “some good plays out there, some not so good, but that’s part of his growing process.”

As far as the first team offense overall, the coach had a little more to say.

“I think we did well. The [starting offense] did well as a whole. We had a critical 3rd-and-1 play in there,” Fangio said, adding he wished the team could have finished the drive. Flacco’s first and only drive went 12 plays for 78 yards, taking up nearly seven minutes and ending with three points.

It wasn’t dazzling - except for Royce Freeman’s spectacular 50-yard run - but it was efficient.

“We had a couple of nice runs there early. We had some nice check downs that moved the sticks. I was disappointed in the red zone and that we did not punch it in,” Fangio said, noting that it’s a four-point difference that is a big deal in a close game. “Those add up for you as the game wears on, especially in a game that was close like this was.”

For Flacco, who suited up as a Bronco for the first time, the drive was the usual adrenaline rush that comes with playing in a game versus practice.

“We just hit some simple things. I thought the line played really well for the time I was in there. The backs did a really great job. Yeah, you’d love to punch the ball in the end zone; it would make you feel a lot better about things, but like I said, we did some really simple things and I thought we did them well,” Flacco said. “I think we have the parts that make it work. I think that if we can run the ball well and physical, the way our line is doing it, the way our backs are doing it right now...I think it’s going to open up a lot of things for the type of talent that we have on the outside.”

Kevin Hogan played a few series after Flacco, both netting just one first down each drive and zero points, before Lock came in to lead the huddle.

Similar to Flacco, Lock led a 12-play drive for 60 yards and a field goal. He completed three first downs and mostly showed improvement over last week - something Fangio has highlighted as a benchmark.

“He threw it pretty damn good. He seemed to be a little more in control of the operation,” Fangio said of Lock’s first drive.

Seattle would keep the ball the rest of the second quarter, ending with a field goal of its own, and bringing the score to 6-3.

Fangio said after the game that Lock’s performance in his later drives suffered a little, partly because the Broncos got behind due to their own sloppy play.

Former Broncos’ first-round pick Paxton Lynch came in for the Seahawks to begin the second half and finished his first drive with a field goal to tie the game at six.

Lock and his offense went three-and-out on their first drive of the second half, giving the ball back to Lynch, who engineered an 85-yard drive and touchdown to go ahead by seven.

During Lock’s next drive, a sack in the end zone on 3rd-and-9 put the Seahawks up 15-6, and on Lynch’s next drive, the backup QB scrambled for a nine-yard touchdown from shotgun, putting the Seahawks up 22-6.

With 13 minutes to go in the game and down 17 points, the Broncos’ rookie quarterback was in an obvious pass situation that didn’t go as planned. In the next two drives, Lock threw five incomplete passes and was sacked once.

Lock bounced back on his next drive, completing four first downs and throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to Devontae Jackson and then a four-yard two-point conversion to mount a comeback as the Broncos brought the score to 22-14. An interception on Lock’s next drive would seal the game for the Seahawks.

Despite coming up short, Lock did show some poise and improvement. In fact, of Denver’s 10 longest plays during the game, Lock was responsible for seven of them, including a 29-yard pass to Austin Fort, a 26-yard play to Trinity Benson and another 24-yard pass to Nick Williams.

“I thought he was OK; obviously he can be better,” Fangio said of Lock dealing with the 16-point deficit. “I thought he has made progress this week and in practice and in the game. I think it showed at times out there. It is still a process for him. I don’t know how long it is going to take. But I think that this past week and game were great for him. He needs to learn from everything and not consider plays failures, they are learning experiences, not failures.”

While the coach felt relatively good about his quarterbacks, he was a lot less happy with his team’s penalties. Fangio has been noted for his “death by inches” mantra, and Thursday’s penalties - four for 25 yards - was disconcerting.

“The penalties were during the course of play because you have poor technique or you’re not good enough. With either one you have to cheat, you have to grab guys, you have to hold them,” Fangio said, noting it was a “highly penalized” game for both teams. “We have to make these guys aware of the proper technique and hopefully they’re good enough to play honest downs without fouling.”

Fangio added that in the other preseason games he’s casually watched on TV, he’s noticed “flags all over the place.”

“I do think that the players need to play better from a technique standpoint, and they are being extra judicious in their officiating,” he said.

Sunday was back to practice and for the early part Flacco and his offense were looking good - even if against the backup D.

“This is a great week for us, we have been looking forward to it,” Fangio said about the Broncos longer week before the second preseason game and a joint camp with the 49ers. “This is a very important week for us.”

9NEWS’ Mike Klis tried to make the coach decide on his No. 2 quarterback after just two preseason games and Sunday’s practice in which Lock took Hogan’s reps with the 2s.

Fangio was having none of it.

“I’m not going to. No,” he told Klis. “You said ‘we.’ I’m not. You can, but I’m not.”