For the first time since the 2019 season ended, head coach Vic Fangio spoke to the media on Thursday.
And, considering the Denver Broncos weren’t in the playoffs this year, a lot has happened with the team since Week 17 of the regular season. Namely, Denver parted ways with offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello as well as his QBs coach, bringing in the respected, veteran man in Pat Shurmur. Shurmur then brought along his QBs coach, Mike Shula, and the good news is for Drew Lock fans is; both are QB whisperers.
Last year in New York, the duo helped coach rookie Daniel Jones to a respectable first season. It concluded with a 3,024-yard season with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in only 12 starts. Interestingly, Jones’ passer rating and QBR were quite similar to fellow rookie Drew Lock’s last year, with the Broncos’ QB being a bit higher (89.7-87.7, 57.7-55.5).
And before last season even began, Shurmur was high on Lock, even if he believes the Giants made a great pick with Jones at No. 6 overall.
“At that time last year, the best decision—what we felt was best for the Giants—was Daniel Jones. I will say this: we had a very, very high opinion of Drew Lock. We liked him a great deal. There are a lot of similarities between the two players,” Shurmur explained. “They can throw the ball well. They can move around well. You saw flashes of really good football from both of them this year as they played as rookies, so I’m very, very excited to be able to work with Drew Lock and really all the offensive players.”
Considering Shurmur worked closely with Jones, and has met “six times” with Lock before even coaching him, the opinion that they are similar quarterbacks is impressive. Especially when considering Jones went so high, and the Broncos nabbed Lock in the second round, further cementing what many have known; Denver got a steal with Lock.
And Shurmur explained that while he was enamored with what Lock did in college, he wasn’t sure the QB’s game would translate to the NFL level. But, “He had great success. He helped engineer four wins and that’s what we’re looking to do. I’m excited about being able to work with him in year two,” Shurmur said.
What can we expect from Lock’s sophomore campaign? Well, Broncos fans should be excited to know Shurmur wants more deep balls, and Fangio acknowledges the offense needs to put up more points to compete with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the division.
“I think you have to challenge the defense,” the offensive coordinator explained. “One way to do it is to do it downfield. That’s how you get points. That’s how you move the ball. I know Coach [Fangio] and I both believe that’s something with the players that we have that we’ll be able to do.”
Fangio reiterated that sentiment a few minutes later in the presser, saying, “Yeah, that’s what I like. Contrary to the stereotype that is always out there—a defensive head coach wants to ground and pound and considers a pitch to the halfback a pass—that is not me. I like to be aggressive.”
For fans, this is music to the ears. Ever since 2014, the Broncos’ offense has been in the bottom third of the league in scoring all of those seasons besides 2015, where they were 19th (points).
Luckily, hope is high in Denver. The Broncos not only have a young, athletic quarterback who showed some flashes of brilliance last year, but other playmakers surrounding him.
Phillip Lindsay just enjoyed his second straight 1,000-yard season, and it was much quieter than his rookie campaign. Courtland Sutton emerged last year as a legitimate No. 1 receiving option, also eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark and his potential has not yet been reached. And then there’s Noah Fant, the fantastic tight end who showed a deft playmaking ability which will scare defenses in the future.
“Yes, he’s primarily a pass receiver with what you’re looking for as a tight end, but quite frankly he was a pretty gritty blocker when he was asked to do so last year,” Shurmur said of Fant. “I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Back to Lock for a moment: He helped the Broncos go 4-1 in his five starts, which has hopes a Mile High in Denver. But, while he enjoyed a great game against the Texans, three of his other starts were merely mediocre and the loss to Kansas City was by far his worst. Considering how conservative Scangarello’s offense was, and knowing that Shurmur and Fangio each want more explosive plays, we could see Lock’s numbers skyrocket in year two. Stay tuned.