ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — We in the local media tend to over-evaluate Broncos’ OTA and minicamp performances.
Peyton Manning used to scoff at how we critiqued an offseason practice in June with nearly the seriousness as game day in September.
And now Broncos head coach Vic Fangio reminds us that for all our reporting on The Great Quarterback Competition between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, we have been making much about very little.
“If you’re going to put a percentage on it, the evaluation and comparing the two is 2 to 3% these last few weeks,’’ Fangio said Wednesday. “The 97 to 98% of it has yet to come.”
Wait till training camp and at least the first two preseason games, Fangio said. Then the decision may be made.
What can’t be downplayed, though, is Denver is a Quarterback’s Town. All we in the media can do is report what we see and nothing invites critical review like a true Quarterback Competition. Even if it’s in mid-June.
This was the gift the Broncos gave us.
There have been five OTA/minicamp practices in which the media has been invited to observe. For what it’s worth -- and it’s less than 2-3 percent -- I thought Bridgewater was the better quarterback in three (media viewing sessions 2, 3 and 5) practices; Lock in two (1 and 4).
Media-viewing session No. 5 was Wednesday when Lock played with the No. 2 offense against the No. 1 defense and Bridgewater operated the No. 1 offense against the No. 2 defense.
So Bridgewater should have had the better performance. And he did. Lock threw a pick that Justin Simmons possibly would have returned for six (such plays are stopped from completion during practice), while Bridgewater threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy, who was wide open on an out route.
It was the kind of practice where Lock – playing with 2s, not the 1s -- says takes some adjustment. Think about it, this is the first time Lock has been in a real competition. As a rookie in 2019, he was supposed to essentially redshirt behind veteran Joe Flacco. Injury circumstances led Lock to playing the final five games.
He received no threat to his starting job last year. Even back at Missouri, Lock was supposed to sit as a freshman but was thrust into the starting role when junior Maty Mauk was suspended following multiple off-field infractions. Lock turned out to be an uncontested four-year starter.
For the first time since when? Ever? Lock has to compete to keep his starter’s job.
“I would say the biggest mental adjustment would be not being with the guys I’ve been with for over a year,’’ Lock said in a sit-down interview Tuesday with 9News. “You change the center, you change left guard, left tackle, right guard, right tackle, running back, our receivers, everything. I think that was the weirdest part. You have a father sense to you: ‘Those are my boys. I should be out there with the boys.’
“But I understand. This is a competition and I need to try and re-earn that spot. That’s my goal every single day. Focus on what I need to do, focus on my job and if I do that and just play confidently, I think I can end up getting the job done.”
Bridgewater, who has been around and overcame much, is hardly flustered by competition.
“Honestly it’s been fun,’’ Bridgewater said. “I walked into this situation and I told Drew and Brett (Rypien, the No. 3 QB) that, listen, you guys want to play this game for a long time, I’m going to keep playing, we all can learn from each other.
“I told those guys to take advantage of me. I played for a lot of teams. I’ve been with different quarterbacks, in different systems, and I played with a great quarterback in Drew Brees. So I feel like I’m one of those guys now I’m that sponge that’s pouring out the information that I have.
“Of course you compete but it’s going to make the team better, it’s going to make you better, it’s going to make a better team and as a person. We’ve all formed a bond. And it’s only been about 3 ½, 4 weeks. And usually when you walk into a situation like that some guys are uptight. Our quarterback room right here, right now, is a friendly environment.
“I look forward to giving Drew and Brett as much information as a I can and I look forward to learning from those guys as much as I can. And in the end it’s going to help the Denver Broncos win football games.”
The Broncos’ final day of minicamp is Thursday, then the veteran players are off for a five-week break. They won’t return until July 27 for the start of training camp. The media will be there when the 97-98 percent of the QB evaluation begins.