Fangio has 'Seen a Jump' in Drew Lock's Mental 'Comfortability' During 10-Week Exile
The Denver Broncos' 3-8 record tells a brutal tale. A third consecutive losing season looms large and the emphasis has fully shifted to the future and most of all, how the organization is finally going to solve its problems at quarterback.
GM John Elway once famously remarked that he would continue to shake the QB tree until one fell out. His succession of ever more misses in this process has drawn considerable heat and sparked frequent debate since Peyton Manning hung his cleats up.
The team's approach to trying to find 'the guy' under center has been confused to say the least, with the only form of clarity in their strategy having recently metamorphosed into a simple process of elimination.
After 11 games, we can already cross off this list of potential answers a former Super Bowl MVP — Joe Flacco — who started only eight games due to a neck injury. Next to be pushed off the hot seat could be current starter Brandon Allen, who has floundered over his last two starts.
Back-to-back road defeats have seen the 27-year-old career backup fail to complete even 50% of his pass attempts. Allen's poor performance and arm strength deficiencies that were brutally exposed in blustery Buffalo should now fast-track the QB back to his natural role as a clipboard holder.
Any decision to pull the struggling Allen from the lineup and insert the highly-touted rookie Drew Lock into the job could be made easier by injury concerns. Allen appeared to suffer and struggle further after taking a heavy hit in Buffalo that further hindered him.
On Monday, head coach Vic Fangio downplayed such concerns, however, that Allen was unfit to continue playing vs. the Bills in Week 12.
“No, he was checked out when he came to the sideline," Fangio said. "Everything checked out fine."
Fangio has so far shown a great deal of consistency when he has opted to sit players based on their performances alone, and Allen should be not be excempt if he is fully fit. Fangio spoke bluntly in his appraisal of his current starter and the offense as a whole.
“He didn’t play well, obviously," Fangio said. "The whole – offensively we didn’t have a good day.”
As the process of working through the team's list of current QB options boils down towards the inevitable debut of Lock, Fangio wants to be absolutely sure that the young signal-caller can confidently be put in a situation that he can handle and that doesn’t hinder the Broncos' chances even more adversely. But there have been signs that Lock has progressed mentally during his time on injured reserve.
“I’ve seen a little bit of a jump in comfortability," Fangio said. "I think he learned a lot from the sideline about how to handle certain things—handle the huddle, calling the plays. I do think he got a better understanding albeit from the sideline.”
With the second-round draft pick not even officially on the roster yet, it boils down to getting Lock ready to take the plunge as soon as possible. With a thumb injury prematurely ending the young QB's preseason, leading to his 10-week exile, that won’t be so easy either, which Fangio has to be aware of.
"The guy hadn’t—from whenever it was in August when he went out, he was on the shelf for 10 weeks," Fangio said. "Just all that lost time and preparation.”
Big decisions lie ahead a general manager looking for a QB of the future and an old-school head coach trying to serve out traditional methods of team and player preparation. Broncos Country hopes Elway and Fangio will soon sing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to playing Lock and getting an answer as to how he fits into the team's future.
The main takeaway from Fangio's remarks about Lock, especially as it relates to who will quarterback this team in Week 13 is this; "All options are on the table."