With seven full practices in the books, the Denver Broncos are taking a day off from training camp. While the coaches evaluate the film and players' performances, the quarterback position will be the first to go under the microscope.
Thus far, Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater have been neck-and-neck in this QB competition. Considering Bridgewater's relative experience gap over Lock, that doesn't reflect well on the former Minnesota Vikings first-round pick.
Teddy has been steady. But at the same time, his conservative nature received some push-back from Vic Fangio over the weekend wherein the head coach made it clear that this competition will be decided by whichever QB can do more than just take the easy checkdown.
Meanwhile, Lock has shown big improvement. Is it leaps-and-bounds, blowing-the-doors-down improvement? No.
But even Lock's offensive coordinator acknowledged how far the third-year signal-caller has come and why he's taking serious steps forward now. Pat Shurmur told reporters on Tuesday that this is "the best version of Drew" he's seen.
“He’s just improved, and I think we’re making corrections with Drew that you would make with a quarterback in the second year of a system," Shurmur said. "There are little decision-making things or get the ball here a little quicker."
Shurmur saying that this is the best Lock he's seen is encouraging but it should not be viewed as a hint of where things stand in the team's QB battle. The offensive coordinator said similarly flowery things about Bridgewater.
“I think he’s done a good job. I think he’s built on all the good work he did in the spring," Shurmur said of Teddy. "I’ve got great familiarity with Teddy from our time together at the Vikings, and I think he’s getting better each day. Obviously Drew had an advantage to some degree as far as knowing how we focus and how we function, and Teddy has caught up."
Decision-making is an attribute that, on paper, Bridgewater had the advantage on Lock. However, despite a few reps during camp in which Lock perhaps has held onto the ball a bit too long, it's easy to see that his comfortability in Shurmur's system has resulted in his decision-making being much quicker and more streamlined.
Which QB is leading the competition scoreboard with seven practices down? Only the coaches know. But Shurmur cautions against even the most football-educated media and fans from jumping the gun in the QB-battle arithmetic.
"You’ve got to be a little bit careful when you’re doing the math on who played well and who didn’t," Shurmur said. "We may have a period with five plays where it’s three runs, play-action and a screen. We did a drill today where we were actually trying to throw incompletions to stop the clock. So you might say, ‘Holy smokes. That was a crappy throw.’ When no, that’s what we were designed to do. So sadly for you guys, you don’t have the scripts and you don’t know the intention of our drills, but some of that happens.”
That's an important thing to keep in mind as we continue to scrutinize this ongoing QB battle. We don't know the play-call. We don't know the hot read. We don't know what the coaching emphasis is on a given rep.
For now, divining which QB might be in the lead is an exercise in futility. However, the tin-foil crowd quickly jumped to conclusions on Teddy being in the lead when our Luke Patterson reported on Day 7 that Bridgewater received 60% of the first-team reps during 7-on-7 drills while Lock got 40%.
Fangio has telegraphed since even before camp began, there would be days when one QB will garner more first-team reps than the other, which would be inverted the following day. So, fans reading into Day 7's rep-share should at least pump the brakes until Friday's practice to see if the coaches give Lock 60% reps and Teddy 40%.
There might even be days coming where one QB gets 100% of the first-team reps and the other the next practice.
“It’d be a fun thing to do. I think the other guy is still going to get reps anyway," Shurmur said. "When you put one guy in with the ones, and for whatever reason [WR] Courtland [Sutton] is not in there, and [WR] Tim [Patrick] is not in there, he’s actually with the twos. So, that’s why I don’t make too much out of it."
Shurmur is trying to manage a QB battle while also ensuring the offense as a unit is developing and gelling on schedule. Next week, the Broncos will travel to Minnesota to hold joint training camp practices with the Vikings ahead of the two teams' preseason Game 1 matchup Saturday night.
My guess is that Broncos Country will know a lot more about where things stand between Lock and Bridgewater the following Sunday after the game.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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