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Vic Fangio Justifies Decision to Bench Drew Lock for Teddy Bridgewater: 'It was Really Close'

Here's how the Broncos' head coach rationalized his tectonic quarterback decision that could influence the long-term destiny of the team.

As the Teddy Bridgewater shockwaves reverberate throughout Broncos Country, Vic Fangio's decision still leaves more questions than answers. Drew Lock’s development from being a second-round draft pick to an 18-game starter has now been jammed into reverse at breakneck speed.

Sure, Denver Broncos fans will issue a rallying call to close ranks behind Bridgewater and hope the defense turns out to be a top-5 unit, but in terms of developing a young quarterback properly, the inescapable truth is that the entire organization has fumbled the ball rather badly.

For those more affiliated with Lock, the frustrating thing was that in a close contest, the coaching staff still felt it was better to go with a journeyman QB on his fifth NFL team that arrived in Denver four months ago. As fans scratched their heads, Fangio explained his rationale behind the Teddy decision. 

“There wasn’t a lot of separation. Both guys had good camps. They both played well,” Fangio said. “They both had their down moments, and they both had their good moments. I thought it was good, overall, for both of them. We made the decision [because] we think it’s best for the team moving forward. We have two good quarterbacks—two quarterbacks that we can win with. Unfortunately, you can’t play with two.”

Fangio's decision seemed to weigh Bridgewater's leadership skills heavily. If Teddy has a calling card, it's leadership and the truth is, the Broncos have lacked a quality leader for a long time. 

“No. 1, to become a leader, you have to play good," Fangio said. "Teddy has to, number one, focus on his job. I think he has leadership skills that can help the entire team.”

At the end of the day, it was a close competition. Anyone who watched a portion of camp and/or the preseason games could see that. If Fangio was going to err, it would be on the side of veteran experience (short-term gain) instead of youthful upside (long-term benefit), which reveals where the coach's priorities lie after totaling 12 wins in two seasons as head coach. 

“It was really, really close as I said. I don’t think anybody lost the job," Fangio said. "We had to make a decision, and we went with Teddy. Like I told the team today, when you have a quarterback competition, there’s one of three things that can happen—one guy plays way better than the other guy and the decision is easy and everybody sees it. The other thing is both guys could play below par and you’re not happy, but you have to make a choice. That didn’t happen either. Third is they both play good and you have to make a tough choice. We had to make a tough choice because we feel we can win with both of them.”

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In such a close contest, the judgment can vary greatly, and Bridgewater’s strong performance as the starter in the Seattle game ultimately proved pivotal in making up Fangio’s mind.

“He played good in the Seattle game, obviously. He had some nice throws,” Fangio said. “He manipulated the pocket to make some of those throws. He had good protection and was accurate with them and played well.”

It might stick in Lock’s craw to hear his head coach reference the good protection that helped Bridgewater make the plays that swung things in his favor, especially as it was sorely lacking in his own first two series. It's not worth Lock dwelling on it if he is going to bounce back, and given the injury history of both quarterbacks, the odds are in his favor that he'll see action at some point this season.

The 24-year-old showed considerable poise and maturity when facing the media on Tuesday, acknowledging that remaining engaged with the team will be the key for not only this season, but his career moving forward.

“You’ve always got to be ready. That’s got to be your mindset,” Lock said. “That’s the mindset that I’m going to have, whether that’s film study, knowing the game plan front and back like I was trotting out there for the first play.”