DENVER — Providing Drew Lock is not yet deemed healthy, Brett Rypien will keep playing.
Rypien, the Broncos second-year, undrafted quarterback from Boise State, had an uneven but victorious NFL starting debut Thursday as he came through with enough big passes to lead Denver to its first win in four games this season, albeit against the still winless New York Jets, 37-28.
“I thought Brett’s play was good in light of everything,’’ said Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. “I was surprised with the interceptions, particularly the one. That was a bad decision on his part to even try and fit that ball in there. There was nowhere for it to be fit. I’m surprised he made that decision.
“But I also loved some of the throws he made. Down the field, the touchdown pass to Tim (Patrick). He managed the operation well. We went from giving up (13) sacks in the two previous games to none. And he played a part in that.
“So overall very pleased with his play. Not pleased with three interceptions, obviously. But if he had to play this coming week against New England I think he’ll be even better for it.’’
The Broncos are off until Tuesday, then begin preparing for the Patriots’ game Sunday, October 11 in Foxborough, Mass. Lock has missed two weeks with a rotator cuff strain in his right throwing shoulder, which the team has called a two to six-week injury.
“Drew is, I think, 50-50 to make it this week,’’ Fangio said. “I’m being totally honest with that statement. We’ll see how he progresses by Tuesday, by Wednesday and see where he’s at.’’
50-50 may be optimistic considering where Lock is in his recovery.
“He hasn’t thrown yet, not a football,’’ Fangio said. “He’s thrown some light balls.’’
In the meantime, Fangio said he would continue to carry four quarterbacks – Lock, Rypien, Jeff Driskel and Blake Bortles – on his 53-man roster, which makes sense in light of the world’s virus pandemic.
“We’ll continue to carry four until we deem Drew to be healthy,’’ Fangio said. “If Drew can’t dress and you’re down to two, and one of your quarterbacks gets COVID or something, you can’t go into a game with one quarterback. We’re tied to four right now because one of them is hurt.”
Fangio, Gase speak
When Jets’ coach Adam Gase called two timeouts in the final seconds even though the Broncos were up nine points and were in the victory formation, he was again being spiteful in his grudge against his former boss, John Elway. (Gase believes Elway cost him the head coaching job in San Francisco in 2015).
When Fangio called two passes on fourth down (a Jets penalty gave him another try) and got Rypien blasted by the Jets’ pass rush, the Broncos’ head coach was accused of, shall we say, overthinking it.
Fangio explained he was not retaliating against the Jets for the timeouts and their unsportsmanlike play by throwing the ball deep. Instead he was simply trying to eat up as much of the final 13 seconds as possible. (It only ate up five seconds but a roughing the passer penalty allowed the Broncos to kneel out the final seconds).
“No, it was not a rub-it-in-thing at all, because we’re not trying to complete a pass there,’’ Fangio said. “It’s pretty common when you get to fourth down in those situations and you decide not to kick that you’re going to drop back, throw it high, as far as you can, and out of bounds to try and burn what could be six or seven seconds or more. And leave it at that. It’s a very common play in the NFL. I’d do it again under the same circumstances.”
Even if that maneuver put his quarterback in harm’s way?
“The quarterback shouldn’t get hit on those,’’ Fangio said. “But legally (and illegally) he did and that’s something we can control.”
Fangio then explained he didn’t shake Gase’s hand after the game not because he had a problem with the Jets’ coach but because he wanted to escort his angry players to the locker room.
“Both of us texted with each other after the game,’’ Fangio said about Gase. “And we spoke today on the phone. Adam and I are friends. Have been, will continue to be. I was just trying to avoid a situation there at the end of the game from escalating into something out in the middle of the field. Unfortunately by the time I decided to get everybody in I only had about 10 seconds to get it done...I just didn’t want any situation that would be an embarrassment for the league and for the teams.”
Fant, Hamler, Bouye update
Fangio said tight end Noah Fant (knee) and receiver KJ Hamler (hamstring) could miss a couple weeks. Cornerback A.J. Bouye, eligible to come off the injured reserve list next week, probably won’t as his dislocated shoulder needs more time to heal.
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