And the Hall of Fame safety sees that fourth quarter comeback as a throwback to what he witnessed in training camp a few months ago - Drew Lock can lead an exciting offense.
“We saw how he was well running the offense and how fearless he was at throwing those passes and the recievers were going up and getting them,” Atwater recalled. “I was like, ‘man, this is going to be a great offense.’ And we saw a glimpse of that in the fourth quarter against the Chiefs.”
Ryan Edwards of Broncos Country Tonight asked how patient fans need to be with Drew Lock, and Atwater just reminded him that “there will be bumps along the way” but a confident Drew Lock will be able to do some big things.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am,” Atwater said. “It could be a fun rest of the year if he continues to develop, continues to have that confidence that he had at the end of the game on Sunday.”
A key factor in that confidence, Atwater says, is knowing his teammates believe in him - as exhibited by their comments about their quarterback.
“If he were jacking up in practice, they wouldn’t back him up,” Atwater said. “They wouldn’t say he was the guy, if he wasn’t the guy.”
Atwater is not ready to say Lock has figured everything out, but he does believe the young quarterback “turned a corner” on Sunday.
“It doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet, but watching how Lock struggled two games plus two and a half quarters of the last game - and then see him come out of that...,” Atwater said. “I think he’s at a point now where Shurmur has confidence that Lock can make the right throws and make the right decisions. I was kind of waiting for that moment to happen.”
But Atwater is no Pollyanna.
“There’s going to be a lot of work ahead, a lot of work to do,” he said. “But the biggest part of that is Lock getting out of his own head and just running the offense. I think that will do a ton for his confidence and the team’s confidence.”
And it’s not just confidence from Lock’s receivers. It’s confidence from his defense too that he can keep them in the game and even help them win the game. And when the offense plays well, it sparks the defense, which then excites the offense...and the cycle keeps feeding off itself.
As evidenced during Bryce Callahan’s unbelievable interception in the end zone - which Edwards called the play of the game - that helped erase the impact of Lock’s interception and inspired the offense to make something happen on the next (and final) drive.
“Callahan is the example that you don’t have to be a big strong guy to play good football. He’s extremely physical, gets great body position between quarterback and the ball, and he’s going up and getting his hands up in there and pulling it down,” Atwater said. “Mike Williams was trying to snatch it away, but Bryce was like, “nah, this is a pick. We’re going the other way with it.”
Atwater had nothing but good things to say about the Broncos’ secondary except that maybe Kareem Jackson should watch out for his teammates next time he throws down.
“I love KJack’s physicality,” Atwater said. “He’s got to keep doing it. He plays with tons of heart and people look to him for that inspiration.”
Last but not least, Atwater called out Justin Simmons for being a consistently great safety - and even hinted at some advice for John Elway: Pay. The. Man.
“He has great hands, great leadership, playing really physical. Who else would you want back there?” Atwater asked, adding the answer - no one.
“The teams that are winning championships don’t let all their great players go,” he said. “Justin Simmons is one of our still young, great players and we need to do everything to make sure he stays in the building.”