It remains to be seen whether Denver Broncos starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will clear concussion protocol in time for Sunday's road tilt at Pittsburgh. But it's absolutely clear that Bridgewater's backup, Drew Lock, is shouldering the onus for last week's deflating loss to the Ravens.
Right or wrong, a familiar narrative is prevailing around QB1-turned-QB2.
“It’s difficult in that he doesn’t get the reps when you’re thrown in there cold, but I still think his below-average play was just a part of our whole offense that day," Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said of Lock on Wednesday. "We just weren’t very good offensively last Sunday.”
Lock, like many of his teammates and superiors, disappointed against the Ravens. Playing the entire second half following Bridgewater's brain injury, the third-year signal-caller completed 12-of-21 passes for 113 scoreless yards and an interception amid the 23-7 drubbing. Denver was shut out over the final two quarters, struggling mightily to move the ball.
That, however, was the first game action for Lock since the preseason when he went from presumed starter to scout-team QB — from the penthouse to the outhouse. Life comes at you fast in this business, and the former second-round pick was forced to adjust to "Steady Teddy's" supersession, both on the field and in the locker room.
“He’s dealt with it very well. I don’t say that to mean he’s accepted it and thinks he’s a backup. That’s not it at all," Fangio clarified. "He just has a lot of respect for Teddy —what Teddy has done for him personally and what Teddy has done for the team. He’s all on board.”
Fangio isn't lying or merely coach-speaking; Lock admitted as much.
"I think I can still keep getting better on figuring out what that is exactly, but I’ve been giving everything I’ve got every single week for Teddy, for this team and for myself too—really, to be ready and come out here," he said after the Ravens defeat.
In the long term, Lock's future does not lie with the Broncos. The organization, through word and deed, has made that apparent. But in the short term, he faces the prospect of returning to the starting lineup for perhaps one last hurrah in orange and blue.
Until Lock gets the hook (again) upon Bridgewater's recovery, he's preparing as if he never was replaced — a mindset supported by the replacer.
“He views himself—and I view him—as a starting quarterback in the NFL," Fangio said. "When I say he’s done good accepting it, it means he doesn’t view himself as a career backup but he’s doing good in his role right now.”
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