Denver Broncos QB Competition: Drew Lock vs. Teddy Bridgewater
This “feels” like a critical year for a couple of people within the Denver Broncos organization. When you play in the same division with a quarterback who’s widely considered to be a generational talent and plays for a team that’s coming off back-to-back trips to the Super Bowl, there is immense pressure to keep up. So as long as Patrick Mahomes is entrenched as the face of the NFL, the rest of the AFC West is seemingly in a battle for second place in the division with hopes of securing a wild-card berth.
When Denver hired universally respected George Paton to be their general manager, he also inherited head coach Vic Fangio. Having said that, at some point, Paton will likely want the opportunity to hire his own guy if the team doesn’t show significant progress in 2021. Fangio came to Denver as a highly decorated defensive coordinator. However, success as a coordinator doesn’t always translate to success as a head coach. The jury is still out on Fangio in his first head coaching opportunity in the NFL.
Ironically, Fangio’s team will likely only go as far as the quarterback position takes them. Drew Lock is the incumbent and has not lived up to his lofty draft status. After going 4-1 as a rookie while displaying the size, arm strength, and escapability that left fans optimistic, he was wildly inconsistent in his sophomore campaign. In 2020, he was the least accurate passer in the NFL with a completion percentage of 57.3%. Over a seven-game span, he threw 13 interceptions and tied for the league lead in that category with 15 in total.
Turnovers are still the statistic that is most indicative of wins and losses. Although wide receiver Courtland Sutton was injured most of the year, he still had outstanding, talented weapons to throw the ball to in Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, and Jerry Jeudy. Lock led the NFL with 19 turnovers, including four in the final game of the season.
However, there are a few reasons for optimism regarding Lock. He’s only 24, he’s mobile enough to evade pressure, and he has a big arm. Also, going back as far as his sophomore year at Missouri, this will be the first time that Lock will be in the same offense for a second consecutive year. That, paired with the fact that Teddy Bridgewater was brought into the fold to push him, means the writing is on the wall for Lock. The arrival of Bridgewater will either motivate Lock to be the best version of himself or he will fold under pressure.
While Bridgewater isn’t someone who has set the world on fire as a player, he has been steady throughout his career. He’s 49-18 as a starter and has a lower interception rate than Lock—he also happens to be the guy Paton acquired. Having said that, with weapons on the outside like Jeudy, Hamler, Sutton, and Patrick, aided by a running game with newly drafted Javonte Williams and veteran Melvin Gordon (who is coming off one of the best seasons in his career), could the steady presence of Bridgewater be just what the Broncos need? Not to mention the safety net they have with talented tight end Noah Fant, who is one of the better young tight ends in the NFL.
Could Fangio hitch his wagon to the inconsistent Lock in what could be his final year as head coach? It would not be shocking to see Fangio go with Bridgewater to start the season. If he gives Lock one more chance as a starter, you can expect him to be on a short leash as the Broncos battle to secure a playoff berth.