The debacle known as the Saints game is long gone, and the Broncos - from the front office to the quarterbacks - are ready to move past the situation that led to said debacle and get ready for possibly the toughest game on the schedule.
“I think one of the many unfortunate things that came out of what happened—one of them is that now it’s clouded the issue that we have been doing a good job here,” said coach Vic Fangio, noting that the entire organization has only had four players and three coaches contract the coronavirus. “That’s a small amount considering what we’re going through here with this virus, but then we had what happened with the quarterbacks and obviously three guys go down because of the contact tracing and what happened with the game. So, it overshadows all the good work that everybody has done here...but, hey, it is what it is; we had that mistake with the quarterbacks, and we have to own it.”
The players were also ready to move past the quarterback-less game, especially the quarterback.
Defending his actions to a point, Drew Lock acknowledged that he and the other quarterbacks let their guard down with protocols and they paid a price for it.
“We came in on that Tuesday and got some extra work in when no one was here, and we got too lackadaisical with it. It ended up hurting us and it hurt this program and I apologize for letting that happen,” Lock said Wednesday before the team’s first on-field practice. “We could have been better. ...Watching [the game] was a gut-wrenching feeling the whole time. It was tough. It was really tough. It wasn’t something that I enjoyed doing. I would much rather have been out there on the field helping my teammates out. It hurt my heart, hurt my soul, and it’s time to move on and get to Kansas City and get out there and do what I love and that’s play football.”
What has happened happened, and now Drew Lock wants to focus on the Chiefs.
“I feel like the best thing for me to do is come out and perform today at practice. ...quite honestly, to me and this team, we’re ready to move on from it and ready to get to Kansas City,” he said. “We know what needs to happen this Sunday night and nothing that’s going to help us get ready for Sunday night has to do with what happened last week. We need to come out and practice well and get our focus on beating Kansas City.”
[*editor’s note: Tim, Jess and I weren’t quite as ready to move past the Saints game when we recorded our podcast Tuesday, so we eviscerated the NFL a little more for its inconsistent and hypocritical application of covid rules to the Broncos last weekend. If you’re still a little mad too, give it a listen!]
But of course, the best way to get over the Saints game - as Steve Atwater noted and Lock alluded to - is to beat the Chiefs.
Doing that is a lot harder than saying it, however.
In the Broncos’ first outing against Kansas City, things didn’t go well. At all. The 43-16 final score barely told the story. Although Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay had a decent day on the ground, Lock threw two interceptions, one of them a pick six, and was sacked three times. Special teams also gave up a 102-yard run back for a touchdown.
Lock and the offense seemingly found some rhythm in the win over Miami two weeks ago, and they’ll be looking to find that again at Arrowhead.
“We just turned the ball over. That was it, plain and simple. I threw the pick six. We turned the ball over earlier in that game too. If we just keep the ball in our hands and take what they give us, I think we can have a better outing this time to make the difference in the scoreboard,” Lock said. “Our biggest focus is taking care of the ball this week and like I said, doing our job one play at a time.”
Tim Patrick also believes the offense needs to move the ball better and take advantage of scoring opportunities.
“I watched the film yesterday—I think the only time that we got stopped (in the first half) was because of turnovers,” he said. “We still ran for well over 100 yards. We didn’t have enough big plays, but when you get down like that, they can prepare for shots down the field—play soft zones and stuff like that. Moving the ball, I felt like we were extremely confident. I think the main objective for this game is not to turn over the ball.”
Andy Reid on Drew Lock this year compared to last year: "I think he's more comfortable in there. I think every game he plays, he's going to get better."— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) December 2, 2020
Third-down conversions have been an issue for this offense all season, and Lock rightfully noted that to improve there, he and the offense need to improve on first- and second-down conversions too.
“We get into trouble when we’re in those third and longs, and that starts on first and second down—being better and being more efficient,” the quarterback said. “We all know it’s crunch time when it gets to third down, it’s either we get to play a couple more downs or we’re off the field. It has to be high intensity, high focus going into those plays. It needs to be high focus, high intensity starting this week on our third down periods. That’s something that I’m going to reiterate to the guys and keep this thing rolling in a positive way.”
Tight end Noah Fant hopes to be one of the primary answers for the Broncos’ offense on third downs this weekend - and every weekend.
“I want to be a big primary guy on third. I feel like—especially like you said that third-and-six range—those are prime tight end areas to run routes and get open and things like that,” Fant said. “So, I guess just to keep pushing forward. That’s the only thing I can say is try to keep getting better, try to get with our play calling and things like that and see how I fit in that and try to do some good things on the field. We definitely need some improvement there.”
With film study from the Week 7 game, Lock and the offensive line will hopefully be able to better handle the pressure coming from the Chiefs’ defense - because you know it will be coming.
“They cause problems by bringing pressures that are unusual or make us hot or keep guys in. That’s just what good defenses do,” Lock said. “The Chiefs do it really well and it’s our job to pick those pressures up. It’s my job to put us in the right situation to be able to pick those up, and if we don’t know where my hots are, know where to get the ball and take care of it.”
Fant noted that he and the entire offense have been trying to get better at dealing with that pressure - and he is especially going to try to handle safety Tyrann Mathieu better.
“He kind of moves around all over the place. He is kind of an anomaly; he can move anywhere he wants to or play anywhere he wants to go,” Fant said. “So, those are always the kind of defenses that it’s kind of tough to play against. I think they do a really good job with that. I think if we handle the pressure well and run our plays well and execute our plays then we should be in good shape.”
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