Losing four straight games in the NFL is enough to force the hand of any team to do some deep introspection. Right now, the Denver Broncos are enduring a 'dark night of the soul' as the team sits at 3-4.
In such agonizing moments, a team can have an epiphany and a solution to the problem can suddenly be sussed out. Now more than halfway through their 10-day mini-bye, there's no indication the Broncos have experienced such an 'ah-ha' moment.
How do we know? Teddy Bridgewater is still Denver's starting quarterback. Although it would be unfair to pin all of the Broncos' struggles on the quarterback, Bridgewater has been a primary perpetrator in the team's sudden skid.
Responsible for a whopping five giveaways in the last two losses alone, 'Steady Teddy' is no longer a thing. It's a freezing-cold MEME that is making Vic Fangio's decision to roll with the ostensibly higher-floor veteran over the higher-ceiling Drew Lock laughable.
On Wednesday, Fangio was asked point-blank whether he's still confident in Bridgewater as this team's starting quarterback.
“I am. I am," Fangio said.
What, pray tell, coach, gives you such confidence in Teddy? What have you seen that perhaps we in the media, and the fans, too, haven't?
“He’s still running the operation very well and making good decisions for the most part," Fangio said. "The players have good confidence in him, and I’m confident that we’ll get it turned around. When we do, the quarterback will get too much credit, as maybe now, he’s getting too much blame.”
Fair point on the credit/blame equation but the issue of the Broncos' quarterback situation stretches beyond mere complicity. This team needs a spark. It needs a change and while it's entirely possible that putting Lock in the starting lineup — surrounded by the very same supporting cast and play-caller — could lead to further depredations, the Broncos literally have nothing to lose.
Teddy told reporters on Wednesday that he was at "70-to-75%" health last Thursday night in Cleveland. Fangio saw it otherwise — perhaps because of his zealous reluctance to give the reins back to Lock.
“I think he was a little higher than that, but I’m not doubting his word on it," Fangio said of Teddy's professed health status last week. "I thought he looked fine out there. I didn’t think he was 100 percent. He’s our quarterback, and when your quarterback can go, you go with him unless he can’t go. He never said he couldn’t go, and I’m confident in taking his word on that.”
For what it's worth, there's more reason to believe that Lock could provide that spark than there is to dismiss it, if given back the mantle of starter. After all, when Fangio finally, reluctantly turned to Lock in 2019 after Joe Flacco's corpse quietly exited stage left and Brandon Allen petered out, the rookie went on to provide the Broncos with the juice to finish the season strong.
Lock led the Broncos to a 4-1 finish after Fangio's machinations got the team to 3-8. The rest, as they say, is history.
As the unquestioned starter, Lock failed to launch in Year 2 but it just so happened to coincide with the outlier of all outlier seasons as the pandemic gripped the world and the NFL. Thus, it's hard to reach any overarching conclusion on Lock's viability as a starter based on 2020 alone.
But, the Broncos have poured two-plus years of coaching and development into Lock after trading up to select him in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft. At some point, this team will have no choice but to give the keys back to him.
The question is, will it be before or after Fangio is summarily relieved of his head-coaching duties? Many in the media theorize that pride is all that is preventing Fangio from sitting Teddy down and rolling with Lock.
If true, it's only more evidence that Fangio is in over his head and not meant for the pressure-cooker world of NFL head coaches.
Here's the thing: when your starting quarterback is openly stating at the podium that it's "almost time" to hit the panic button "but not yet", that is a glaring omen that change is needed at the most important position on the field. After all, imagine what he's telling teammates behind closed doors.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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