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Fangio Questions Whether Broncos are Giving 'Enough Reps' to Backup QB Drew Lock

Are the Broncos starving Drew Lock of reps?

The Denver Broncos are riding high after dismantling the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday 28-13. In the first half, starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater exited the action with a shin injury which required Drew Lock to take the field in relief. 

What ensued, while not all bad, was unsettling to witness. On his first possession, Lock fumbled on a third-down scramble that was fortunately recovered by a very heads-up Tim Patrick, moving the chains. 

A few plays later, Javonte Williams pounded the rock home on a brilliant nine-yard touchdown dive. The hope was that Lock would settle in from there as Bridgewater was attended to by trainers and he mostly did. 

However, with 1:22 left in the second quarter, the Broncos were threatening in Charger territory while holding a commanding 14-point lead. That's when Lock stepped on the rake, throwing an egregiously bad interception that was picked off by Chargers' safety Derwin James. 

We didn't see Lock on the field again from there as Justin Herbert capitalized on the turnover, driving the Chargers down the field for a touchdown before the half — L.A.'s first points of the game. Feeling the momentum swing back to the opponent, Broncos fans began to get that old, familiar sinking feeling in their gut. 

Coming out of the half, however, it was Teddy who took the field. And the rest is history. 

On Monday, Vic Fangio made it clear that Lock will remain the No. 2 quarterback, despite fan calls for Brett Rypien to be Teddy's backup, while laying out what Lock has to do to improve. 

“It’s different for a guy who’s never come off the bench," Fangio said of Lock. "In this case, we’re probably not giving him enough reps during the week. Not to make an excuse for him, but he’s got to learn to do better at that. Maybe some of that is we need to have a better list of what he feels comfortable operating with, running, and calling."

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Lock finished the day 4-of-7 for 26 yards and an interception (plus a fumble) with a QB rating of 25.6. Ouch. Juxtaposed with his lackluster performance in Week 4 vs. Baltimore in relief of a concussed Bridgewater, it's clear that Lock has not taken to his role as a backup very well. 

"Hopefully, he’s learned from these two times," Fangio said. "Hopefully, there won’t be another time through an injury, and he’ll do better the next time.”

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It's possible Lock simply isn't cut out to be a backup. It's also possible that he's not getting enough reps during practice, as Fangio said. 

The more likely explanation, though, is that Lock's confidence has been shaken since losing his spot as the Broncos' starting quarterback. That was the risk Denver ran when the team decided to roll with Bridgewater after the two quarterbacks competed in training camp and preseason. 

You never know how a young quarterback is going to take getting benched, especially after he's been quasi-christened as 'The (for now) Guy'. It doesn't seem like Lock internalized that setback well. 

If Lock wants to survive in the NFL, however, he'll have to figure out how to be a more competent backup. He doesn't appear to have much confidence right now, and after seeing the Broncos roll a hobbled Bridgewater back out there in the second half, it would seem the team is lacking confidence in its former second-round draft pick, too. 

In order to attain true NFL staying power and climb back into the ranks of being a viable starting-caliber QB option, Lock must take it upon himself to improve and be a more dependable piece to the puzzle because odds are, Bridgewater will get dinged up again while the Broncos make their stretch run. 

It's frustrating to see Lock look so discombobulated because we've seen glimpses of his considerable ceiling. Week 14 in 2019. Week 6 in New England 2020. That 21-point comeback vs. the Chargers in Week 8 last year. His four-touchdown performance at Carolina in Week 14. 

Lock's juju is off in a big, bad way. But if he can figure out how to be better as a backup, he'll earn back whatever trust he lost from the coaches, and from there, there's no telling what his next opportunity to play could have in store for him. 

The 'he's never had to come off the bench' excuse doesn't hold water and it never has. Lock has a job to do and if he doesn't attack it to the best of his ability, he won't be long for the NFL. And that'd be a shame considering his talent. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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