Vic Fangio pulled no punches, nor blew any smoke, when asked about Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock’s inaugural NFL action in Thursday’s preseason-lifting victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
“I was hoping for more, but not surprised,” the Broncos head coach said following the 14-10 win in the annual Hall of Fame Game, per NFL Network’s James Palmer. “He’s still got a lot of work to do. Thought his accuracy wasn’t clean all the time, along with his reads. But you know, it’s to be expected.”
Entering the game in the second quarter, spelling Kevin Hogan, the second-round gunslinger completed seven of 11 passes for 34 yards. He threw no touchdowns or intereptions and absorbed two sacks — one of which was the fault of the offensive line. Lock finished with a 68.0 passer rating, usurped by Hogan (73.4) and fellow rookie Brett Rypien (94.2), who led Denver’s fourth-quarter, game-winning drive.
Lock looked every bit like a raw signal-caller whose development remains in the infantile stage. He missed on several deep throws, failing to put enough air under the ball, and his footwork within the pocket was generally a mess.
He was unnecessarily frenetic. Obviously nervous. And, despite an uneven showing, wholly rational.
“I’ll rate it as a learning game,” Lock said, via the Broncos’ official website. “There’s definitely things I’ll learn there, but I’m excited that I’m sitting here and that was the first time ever stepping out on the field. It was the Hall of Fame game. It wasn’t the Super Bowl, it wasn’t the playoffs — so there’s a lot of things for me to learn, a lot of things for me to look forward to, to progress a little bit.”
What Went Wrong?
The adjustment from college to the pros is a daunting one for Lock, who’s learning fundamentals such as under-center work, commanding the huddle, and throwing mechanics. He lived off big plays at Missouri, and got by on his elite arm talent.
Welcome to the NFL, rook.
The Falcons, to their credit, confused Lock by mixing coverages and throwing exotic blitz packages at Denver’s second- and third-string offensive line. It was a tactic by defensive-minded head coach Dan Quinn that quickly caught Lock off guard.
And Broncos general manager John Elway partly by surprise.
“I think Drew is a very talented young guy that we think has a bright future ahead,” Elway said on the Thursday Night Football telecast, via The Denver Post’s Kyle Frederickson. “I think he saw some different things that he wasn’t expecting. He saw a little more man coverage tonight than he was planning on and saw a little pressure. … I can still remember my first start in the preseason. It’s a big deal. It’s a big jump.”
Broncos Country should keep things in perspective and not draw conclusions — one way or another — based on the first of five exhibition contests.
Every rep Lock takes, each snap he handles, will make him a better QB. He’ll grow from doing, from stumbling and face-planting a few times. He has to get worse before he can get better, and there’s zero pressure for that to happen in the immediate future.
Lock is expected to see second-half playing time in the Broncos’ next preseason affair, a road contest at Seattle on Aug. 8. Dollars to donuts, he’ll appear a little more stable.
R-E-L-A-X and enjoy the ride. This is how franchise passers develop.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter @KelbermanNFL.