Scangarello Reveals why he's Confident Drew Lock is Ready to Start for Broncos
We know that Drew Lock believes that he's ready to be the Denver Broncos starting quarterback. Publicly, head coach Vic Fangio is getting closer to believing the same, although, we can't know he's completely sold on Lock's readiness until he pulls the trigger on announcing him as the starter.
That moment feels like it's only a matter of course. Inevitable.
But what about offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello? Scangarello played a big role in scouting Lock and the pre-draft evaluations that ultimately helped assure GM John Elway to package a trade to move up at the top of the second round and select Lock at pick 42.
One of the selling points on Lock's resume that attracted Scangarello was his body of work. Lock not only had some massive statistical production, but he was also a four-year starter at Missouri.
Having a four-year sample size with which to analyze a QB is invaluable. Lock grew by leaps and bounds over that period of time, from being a freshman starter to senior trying to carry an outmatched Mizzou team in the uber-competitive SEC.
It gave Scangarello the confidence to rubber-stamp the Lock pick on draft day. But does Scangarello have the confidence that Lock is ready to start as a rookie? The answer is affirmative and the Broncos' top offensive coach explained why on Thursday.
“I just feel like the time off, he did a nice job of preparing himself mentally in every way he could," Scangarello said. "You can’t trade that out for the actual reps on the field, but he definitely grew as a person and he learned a lot from the guys in the room. They were very helpful and collaborative and Joe [Flacco] taught him a lot. I think he gained confidence from that and I like where he is mentally and just how he’s progressed. He’s done a nice job.”
Lock himself has talked about how much he learned from watching Joe Flacco operate as the starter for the first eight weeks of the season. Even though Lock was exiled on injured reserve and couldn't practice, he could attend those sessions to observe, sit in the meeting rooms and attend all the team meetings as if he was on the 53-man roster.
That, combined with his own diligence within the playbook and utilizing the team's virtual reality program to literally go through each Broncos practice twice, allowed Lock to make a quantum leap forward "mentally and emotionally" according to his coaches. Lock himself has echoed that sentiment.
“I like to think that everything happens for a reason," Lock said on Wednesday. "At the beginning of that, I was very lost, didn’t know why this was happening. I was super excited to get into the NFL. Then to have that injury happen, it was pretty upsetting. I know after it all happened, after looking back at it all, I got to be on my own learning the way. I knew I had time to learn. I wasn’t worried about getting on the field playing. I could kind of focus on what it is I felt like I need to be better at to where at this point now, I got to focus on that a long time and it’s time to find out what it’s going to do for me.”
Indeed, that time has come. The Broncos haven't announced it yet, but all signs and momentum indicate that Lock will make his NFL debut as a starter this week at home vs. the L.A. Chargers.
When that moment comes, Lock will be the Broncos' third starting quarterback of the season. Scangarello did a great job, at least initially, of catering the offense to Brandon Allen's skill-set after Flacco went down. The OC will have to craft something similar to play to Lock's strengths and give he and the Broncos offense the best possible chance to succeed.
“In the end, you have to tailor things to what they do best, what they can handle—that’s not too much and that’s going to allow him to play free and fast—what’s around you and what you can do best with the guys around you that will help him do a good job," Scangarellos said. "Featuring the right people in the right schemes and all that is a big part of fitting it in with the quarterback.”
Scangarello was part of a great adjustment in San Francisco last year, when the Niners had to go from Jimmy Garoppolo to C.J. Beathard to ultimately, Nick Mullens. Mullens would go onto produce a phenomenal eight-game body of work, especially statistically, though it wasn't enough at the time to elevate a talent-depleted roster in the standings.
As San Francisco's QBs Coach, he helped Kyle Shanahan tailor the right plays to get the most out of Mullens. Part of that is getting the QB ready to a point where the entire playbook is open to him, even if the structure of the offense is catered to his strengths.
“I don’t think Rich would be afraid to open it up," Lock said. "He had—when all the whole quarterback situation in San Fran went down, I think the did a really good job there of being able to get a young guy going, get him some throws and get him rolling in a game. I think he’ll do a great job. He’s had this happen before where the number does get called, then he’d be ready with an awesome game plan.”
Whenever Lock ends up getting his opportunity, it's going to interesting to see how it all unfolds. Fangio believes he's ready and Scangarello echoed that. It's time to begin deducing whether Lock has what it takes to be the Broncos' future franchise QB.