The Denver Broncos 23-20 win versus the Los Angeles Chargers last week was easily their most prominent victory of the season.
After being bludgeoned the week before in Buffalo versus the Bills, Denver made a switch at quarterback, inserting Drew Lock as the starter, a decision that paid dividends as he helped lead the Broncos to a victory in his first professional start.
Lock, whom the Broncos drafted in the second round of the 2019 draft, was solid in his first start, throwing for 134 yards and two touchdowns, including a clutch drive late that set the Broncos up to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Bronco fans had been clamoring for Lock to start, and were satisfied with the rookie’s play; however, the 23-year-old QB is faced with a much taller task this week as the Broncos are set to travel to Houston for a showdown with the 8-4 Texans.
That said, the Texans have struggled against the pass this season, allowing an average of 7.4 yards per passing play and 262.9 total yards per game. Despite their struggles on defense, Houston has been one of the best reams in the AFC this season, and the Broncos will have their work cut out for them come Sunday.
Should the Broncos want to escape Houston with a road victory, Lock will need to play well to keep up with the pace of the Texans rapid-fire offense.
When asked about what the Broncos needed to better on offense, head coach Vic Fangio had a simple answer: Everything.
“We have to do everything better,” Fangio said at practice this week. “We’ve got to convert third downs. The good teams don’t even get to many third downs. They get a first down on first or second down. But when we do get to third down, we have to convert some of those.”
Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello has been working with Lock extensively this week and feels that the rookie will improve as the game’s pass and his comfort level grows.
“All in all, it’s just a comfort, the routine, and the ease of which just playing the game comes from not doing anything for eight weeks,” Scangarello said. “He was anxious early, to say the least. His pregame routine, all that, it’s all foreign to him. He settled in after the first series, and I thought he showed great poise.”
The Broncos have had three different starting quarterbacks this season, all of which boast unique strengths and weaknesses. Scangarello has had to tweak his play call on the fly but feels like Lock has adjusted well.
Scangarello acknowledged that he did not give Lock the “full menu” in regards to the playbook, but added that he will open up the passing game as Lock matures.
“We tried to do a little bit of spread offense-type stuff, where people were out, and he could see the field and be comfortable doing concepts that he feels good about as we go through this process,” Scangarello said. “That’s our job, and I thought he did a good job. It’s different concepts than maybe [QB] Joe [Flacco] would run, but there’s enough there that it’s a good solid plan.”
It is still too early to tell if Lock will be the Broncos’ quarterback for the long haul, but for the time being, all eyes will be on No. 3 while he leads the team down the stretch of the season.