The Denver Broncos beat the Atlanta Falcons 14-10 on two touchdown drives, one early in the game with Kevin Hogan at quarterback and the other near the end with Brett Rypien throwing one up for Juwann Winfree. In between, there was a whole lot of Drew Lock and the results were less than inspiring.
Lock finished 7/11 for 34 yards and a couple of sacks. He looked lost at times and struggles with accuracy.
After the game, Head Coach Vic Fangio provided a very pointed response to Lock’s overall performance. In short, Lock is right where Fangio thought he was.
“I was hoping for more, but [I’m] not surprised,” Fangio said. “He’s still got a lot of work to do. I thought his accuracy wasn’t clean all the time along with his reads, but that’s to be expected. We’ve got four more games and we’ve got to get him ready, more ready than he is right now.”
That quote created a bit of a negative reaction on Twitter and had many fans using the ‘bust’ label already.
Here’s the thing, though. Fangio has been telling us all along that Lock has a long way to go before he’s ready to be an NFL quarterback. He isn’t setting high or low expectations - he’s just setting expectations.
Back during the first week of Broncos training camp, he made sure to note where Lock had the tools, while also noting that he is far from being ready to use them.
“I think a quarterback that can change his arm angles is a positive when it’s needed,” Fangio said on July 19th. “I don’t think you want to do it when you don’t have to do it. Obviously if somebody’s in my face and I might have to do that, that’s good to have that talent, but if I’m here strong in the pocket I want to throw over the top, nice and strong and not rely on side arm. It’s good that he can do that, but he needs to use it when he needs to not when he doesn’t need to. I think that’s part of what I said yesterday. His college offense really had no carry over to pro offenses and he was under duress a lot of times at his college, so a lot of his plays he was running around. I don’t think he’s far along being a ready NFL quarterback as he could have been. That’s what I mean when he’s got to get ready. He’s not a quarterback yet. He’s a hard throwing pitcher that doesn’t know how to pitch yet, so the faster he gets that the better off he’ll be and we’ll be.”
Fangio’s approach to development a player is honesty. Looking back, I don’t think that is something any of us is used to from a coach. At time, it felt like Paxton Lynch was being wrapped in a bubble and protected by the coaching staff when everyone could see he was not ready for the NFL.
That’s just not Fangio’s style and that might be a good thing.
There has been improvement in Lock’s game, but two weeks is hardly enough time to develop into a starting-caliber quarterback.
“He’s getting better,” Fangio said of Lock earlier this week. “I think he’s getting better. He’s not what I would call—he’s not a union NFL quarterback yet, but he’s improving.”
The Broncos have Joe Flacco, so there is no rush to bring Lock up to speed. They clearly want to do him right and having someone like Flacco starting affords them that opportunity. When Trevor Siemian was starting, there was likely more of a sense of urgency around Lynch. That’s the difference between having a quarterback and not having one.