ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With apologies to Drew Lock, who seems to be better now than he was when was the Broncos’ quarterback the past 21 months, Teddy Bridgewater was the correct choice.
Lock didn’t lose it. Bridgewater pulled away by 35 yards.
The Great Quarterback Competition between Bridgewater and Lock was close, as head coach Vic Fangio said it was, going into the second preseason game at Seattle.
But then Bridgewater made the decision a no-brainer.
He had two drives and led the Broncos to touchdowns on both. The first touchdown was set up when Bridgewater stepped up and drilled his 35-yard completion down the middle to Jerry Jeudy to convert a fourth-and-5. That was a short-field score. On his next drive, Bridgewater methodically navigated 87 yards in 16 plays for nearly 10 minutes of game clock, the highlight of which was a 22-yard completion on a perfectly thrown sideline route to tight end Eric Saubert, setting up first and goal at the 1.
Lock, meanwhile, came in with the second team and was sacked on back-to-back plays on a first-series, three-and-out.
Ballgame. Fangio notified the two QB contestants Wednesday morning, then the team during a special meeting that Bridgewater was the choice. Fangio said Bridgewater will start Saturday in the final preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams and then in the regular-season opener Sept. 12 against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J.
“I was very excited,’’ Bridgewater said. “I’m just happy I get another opportunity. Happy I get to continue to lead and be the same guy that I am today. Same guy that I was yesterday.”
A little bit about that guy from yesterday. Broncos general manager George Paton was the Vikings’ assistant GM in 2014 when Minnesota traded back into the first round to select Bridgewater. In his second season, first full year as a starter, Bridgewater led the Vikings to the playoffs, only to suffer a catastrophic knee injury prior to his next season.
It’s been a long road back but Paton continued to believe. The day before the NFL Draft in late-April, Paton acquired Bridgewater from Carolina, and bypassed quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones in the draft.
“When I first got here I realized it was a roster with a guy like Jerry (Jeudy) who’s probably one of the best dancers in the league,’’ Bridgewater said, having some fun to the question of what he thought of the Broncos’ offense when he was first traded here, and what he thinks about it now. “KJ (Hamler), he’s got a mixed tape, he does this music thing. He has a nice little flow to him. Noah (Fant), a friendly guy, a family guy.’’
OK, he was done. Bridgewater then turned serious.
“From a players’ standpoint it’s one of those deals where you can’t do anything but be excited,’’ he said. “Gotta bunch of guys who are young and eager to continue to have success in this league for those who have had success. And you have some guys who want to make a name for themselves in this league.’’
It’s an offensive group that has youth both at the skill positions (Jeudy, Hamler, Fant, Javonte Williams) and up front (Lloyd Cushenberry III, Quinn Meinerz). And so it made sense for the veteran Bridgewater to lead them. He is back as an NFL starting quarterback, the Broncos’ starter after he beat out Lock, who was the incumbent, the young quarterback with the live arm. Lock handled the demotion to backup QB like a pro.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing,’’ Lock said. “Every feeling that you could possibly have at this point, this day, this circumstance, you know they’re running deep. I feel like at the time, I was playing some of the best football I’ve played since I’ve been in the league. I was more confident than I’ve ever been.
“Most of you guys think of me as a confident guy, but I was probably more confident than I’ve been since I’ve been in the league since this OTAs, this training camp, this preseason. This is such a special team, I was hoping and looking forward to being able to lead this team. But no finger pointing. No negativity. It’s going to be about me finding ways to still make this team great.’’
> Video below: Drew Lock loses Broncos QB battle to Teddy Bridgewater
Lock seemed to be leading the QB competition after the first preseason game at Minnesota on Aug. 14 when he started and completed 5 of 7 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns – one of which was an 80-yard beauty to KJ Hamler on a post pattern. But then Bridgewater came off the bench and kept it close with an unflappable performance. He went 7 of 8 for 74 yards with a touchdown and a field goal in his two drives.
Had it not been for an illegal hands to a face penalty by an offensive lineman, Bridgewater would have engineered four touchdowns in four drives. You can’t have five touchdowns in four drives. Bridgewater had done all he could do.
Close going into Seattle, it was not close coming out. Bridgewater was the easy choice.
“We have two good quarterbacks, two quarterbacks that we can win with,’’ Fangio said. “Unfortunately you can’t play with two.”
And, by the way, in Lock, the Broncos now have a ton of arm talent on the bench.
“Hopefully, four or five years from now, I’m going to be turning on the TV watching Drew play,’’ Bridgewater said.
Broncos podcast: Klis' Mike Drop
Denver Broncos headlines, game previews and interviews with our 9NEWS insider Mike Klis.
HOW TO LISTEN
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Sports
MORE WAYS TO GET 9NEWS
Subscribe to our daily 9NEWSLETTER
HOW TO ADD THE 9NEWS APP TO YOUR STREAMING DEVICE
ROKU: add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching for KUSA.
For both Apple TV and Fire TV, search for "9news" to find the free app to add to your account. Another option for Fire TV is to have the app delivered directly to your Fire TV through Amazon.