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Jenkins: QB battle is really ‘net-net’

Evaluating the two quarterbacks’ performances against the Seahawks, Tim Jenkins saw a clear winner Saturday - but still a really close race overall.

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Tim Jenkins was on Broncos Country Tonight Monday for his weekly Broncos film breakdown, and he had some interesting insights into the ongoing quarterback competition between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater.

And before you write him off as a “Lock stan,” Jenkins’ overall assessment of the Seahawks’ game was that Bridgewater “won” between the two QBs on Saturday, but Lock didn’t take any real steps back.

“Teddy did enough for me to say, ‘wow, he really took a step forward’ and that he clearly won Seattle,” Jenkins told Ryan Edwards on BCT, adding that he definitely wouldn’t agree with “Twitter experts” and “hot take radio” that Lock played poorly. “That’s not a real take. The offense played poorly.”

Although it can be fair to attribute overall poor offense to the QB, that’s not really the case in preseason games where a lot of second- and third-team guys are playing or various situations are being run on purpose that may not be pushed in a regular season game, etc. So Jenkins wouldn’t blame Lock, for example, when left tackle tried to double team a guy he had no business double-teaming only to let him glide right through to a sack or when a backup lineman and Lock got tripped on each other’s feet.

“You could have a quarterback grade out well on pass decision-making and the offense still not do good because other guys broke down around him,” Jenkins noted, calling out “just about any Lions film” from recent years. “Drew played fine. You gotta give Teddy the edge in the game, but Lock didn’t regress.”

Jenkins did point out a couple great positives for each quarterback in the game.

With Bridgewater, fans saw a more aggressive QB than they’ve come to know with the narrative of always playing the safe choice. While he still did that at times against Minnesota (and some against Seattle), Jenkins noted that on the fourth down conversion, Bridgewater saw the right play and delivered.

“Here’s what I really loved was that big ‘in route’ on the fourth down play ... on the coaches tape, you saw him scan both those shallows and then he climbed in the pocket and delivered a strike,” Jenkins said. Even if a team normally would be punting on 4th and 5, Jenkins liked the growth in Bridgewater’s play there.

He also liked the touchdown play to tight end Eric Saubert for different reasons than most fans who loved the score.

“That’s a big time, big time throw,” he said, noting the choice to make a tough throw. “I think you saw Teddy being a little more aggressive, and in building, that’s what you want - that when you have this look go ahead and let it rip. And he layered a great one in there on that sail route.”

When it comes to Lock, the Seattle game wasn’t a big win for the quarterback like the Minnesota game had been, but there were some cues that showed improvement.

Jenkins pointed out a play that would never make a highlight reel but it showed good decision-making. On his second series, Lock “threw the ball away on a 9-stop that was either on purpose to kill a couple seconds on the clock or it was a busted route and he made the right decision.”

And in general, Jenkins believes No. 3 has taken a step forward in this development, noting that No.1, Lock’s eyes are in the right spot.

“That would be the biggest thing. Last year he missed on PSL - those two-shell or three-shell and man-zone plays,” Jenkins said, adding that it’s a limited sample size and against Day 1 and Day 2 install type stuff “but last year he was missing on those so he’s taking the time to dive into the playbook and make sure the base stuff of this offense is something he’s really comfortable with. His eye placement overall is a tremendous jump.”

And where Jenkins had previously been very critical of Lock’s footwork, now he’s just getting picky.

“His footwork is good. I’d still move left foot back farther and get more stagger, but that’s just nit-picking,” he said. “I think it’s cleaned up.”

Lock has also shown Jenkins enough improvement that he’d choose Lock over Bridgewater, despite the two being very even in his mind.

“For me, they played net-net, but I would just give the nod to Drew because I feel like he gives you more,” Jenkins said, fully admitting that that’s because as a former quarterback, he’s an “offensive-minded” guy. “Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the head coach isn’t offensive minded, he’s defensive minded.”

Don’t make a decision too soon

One of Jenkins’ big caveats, however, with assessing the “winner” between the two quarterbacks over the past two preseason games is that it really is an insufficient body of work.

Coaches, on the other hand, are watching the All-22 film to get a full picture of what’s happening on the field - which fans don’t get with TV game broadcasts - and they have three weeks of practices to include that fans and reporters have not seen.

“Based on limited preseason sample size, these guys seem pretty net-net,” Jenkins said, adding that coaches may give one QB an edge because they have access to practice tape and have been grading both throughout the whole training camp. “If they make a decision this week [on the starting quarterback], it’s because they have a guy pulling away from all of the practice [tape].”

And while fans are anxious for Fangio to name his starter, Jenkins has no problem with the coaches taking more time.

“As a quarterback, you have to know that the decision is made. People think the worst case scenario is not naming a starter and him not getting all the reps,” Jenkins said. “No, that’s not even remotely the worst case scenario.”

For Jenkins, this simulates a worst case scenario - coach names a starter, he has three good games and then struggles in a fourth so coaches pull him and put in the other guy. A quarterback always looking over his shoulder about getting pulled and/or a team bouncing back and forth between QBs would be the worst thing possible for the Broncos this season in Jenkins’ mind.

“You have to make this decision in the face of criticism because no matter who it is, there will be a bad outing,” he said, adding he knows that because even Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have bad outings. “So when you make this decision, you have to be confident.”