Bridgewater, Lock remain in dead heat as QB battle nears its conclusion

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) talks with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) during training camp at UCHealth Training Complex.
Jul 28, 2021; Englewood, CO, United States; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) talks with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) during training camp at UCHealth Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In all likelihood, Sunday’s late-night preseason matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will mark the end of a long, drawn-out quarterback competition.

When asked how far away the coaching staff was to naming a starter for the regular season, Fangio was honest.

“Pretty damn close, but we’ve got more information coming,” the Broncos head coach said.

Upon catching word of what Fangio said, Lock was clearly surprised.

Though, despite the surprise, he seems ready to try and claim the job.

“Well, I think—the first game was obviously good,” Lock said when asked what he had left to show the coaches. “We have another test coming up this weekend and I’m going to go out and try to do the same thing. We’ve got a lot more practices left until the first game. I just want to come out every day and show that I’m improving. Like I’ve always said, take care of the football and just make smart decisions—coming out, protecting the ball, moving us down the field, taking it day-by-day.”

As far as which quarterback is leading the race as we near its conclusion, that’s anyone’s guess. General consensus is that Teddy Bridgewater as outperformed Drew Lock in practice, and outperformed him during the joint practices in Minnesota — which might be the only work either quarterback gets against a first team defense. However, Lock was dynamite in the Broncos’ preseason game, which Fangio has implied carries a lot of weight.

After practice on Wednesday, Fangio argued that we can still take a lot away from the preseason, even if it comes against lesser competition. That said, it also seems like the joint practice work against Minnesota’s first team was very important in Fangio’s eyes too.

“We can judge it very accurately, I think,” Fangio said. “I think the practices against Minnesota are telling. I think practices [with] one’s against one’s on ourselves are very telling, and we can’t control what the other teams play in these preseason games.”

The Broncos can only control their own performance, and after last week, they have set quite a high bar.

“You just want to keep that momentum going,” Bridgewater said Wednesday. “I said after the game—even though it’s an exhibition game—we still want to create a culture around here of winning—especially with a young team—[by] showing them what it feels like to win and celebrating after games. As we know, it’s hard to win in this league. Moving forward and going into this game, we just want to keep momentum, and keep scoring, [while] finishing drives in the end zone and trying to get points. [We want to] continue to be sharp in our assignments in the run game, make sure we’re blocking up guys in the pass game, and make sure we’re in the right space and the right place at the right time. [We want to] play pitch and catch with our wide receivers and tight ends.”

That veteran leadership ability and maturity might be what ends up winning Bridgewater the starting job, who continues to seem unphased by the competition.

“Every day, I just come out and try to help this team be a better team and help the other 10 guys in the huddle be the best versions of themselves that they can be,” Bridgewater said. “Like I said a couple weeks ago, a decision will be made, and we’ll go forward. Whatever decision is made, it’s going to be a decision that we feel is bets for this team. Right now, all I can focus on is continuing to get better as a player every day and being a better teammate and a better father.”

Bridgewater seems to have that relaxed, controlled mentality about every aspect of the quarterback competition, as he continuously puts the focus back on the team.

“I really don’t even think about a decision being made,” Bridgewater said. “Like I said after the game, if I’m worrying about so much about a decision being made, then I’m doing a disservice to this team and the 10 other guys that are out there with me. That’s not fair to those guys. Everyone is competing for a spot on this team and competing to provide for their families and different things. Why would I make a moment about me and take away from the 10 other guys that are there?”

At one point, Bridgewater even praised Lock for his desire to get better.

“Drew [Lock] is just a guy who is thirsty for knowledge,” Bridgewater said. “He’s thirsty to be one of the best quarterbacks in this league. When you have a guy like that who is thirsty—he’s been through some things early in his career. He’s had some different guys in and out of the room. You want that stability. For Drew [Lock], I think it’s good that he’s getting that stability. It’s the second year in this offense. That’s huge for his growth. You talk about stability and so many changes in this league. To have that stability, it gives you a sense of comfort.”

This whole situation isn’t new to Bridgewater though, who has bounced around the league and hasn’t always been the starter. The same can’t be said for Lock, who’s also managing the competition well, though it’s certainly been harder on him.

“Obviously, always at first—you’re frustrated,” Lock said in regard to his emotions on the competition. “You’re frustrated with yourself because you didn’t play well enough to be able to not have this happen to you in the offseason. As time goes on, you get to be around guys that have been in football for a long time. You find a different side of yourself and the competition. Like we talked about last time, it’s really never happened to me in my football career. I did a lot of soul searching—figuring out what I need to focus on and how I need to go about it. I really do think it made me a better football player to this point in time, but at first, it is like ‘ugh.’ You get a sense of—it’s hard to even say—but a sense of gratitude for being able to still come out and fight for it and get a little competitive juices flowing early in the season and not just when you go out and step on the field and play games.”

Some of that soul-searching has led to Lock changing the way he approaches the game, and it sounds like those changes are hear to stay.

“It was a little more businesslike for me these last 8-10 months, really,” Lock said of trying to balance playing carefree while also refining his approach. “It’s going to remain that [way] for the rest of my time here. Now, I will probably have some fun here and there. That’s what we like to do. We’re all playing the game we love and that we’ve grown up loving. There are times to have fun, mess around, jump around and celebrate. As much as I can keep my head on a straight path, focused and dialed in to where the guys around me can feel that too—I feel like that’s kind of the best route to go, but celebrate with them when they do make the good plays.”

The light is at the end of the tunnel, but for right now, it’s still all business for the two quarterbacks.