ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos head into the final quarter of the season, Head Coach Vic Fangio is looking for continued improvement from second-year quarterback Drew Lock.
The 2019 draft pick nearly became just the fourth Broncos quarterback to win at Arrowhead Stadium in December, as he led the Broncos to a go-ahead score in the third quarter. The Broncos, though, couldn't cap a late comeback and fell 22-16 to the defending Super Bowl champs.
Lock was picked off twice by Tyrann Mathieu — on both the first and final drives of the game — and finished 15-of-28 for 151 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 63.2 passer rating.
The Broncos did finish 7-of-13 on third down and posted three scoring drives of at least seven plays, including an 11-play, 72-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter.
"We've got to cut down on the interceptions, obviously," Fangio said Monday. "We just need to see the continued improved play, and I think converting the third downs last night showed that a little bit. We had a good day in the red zone — that shows development in a quarterback. Just need to make good throws, good plays, good reads, run the offense from the start of the huddle to the line of scrimmage. We're not always spot on right there, and we need to be."
Fangio said the Broncos were not considering replacing Lock with Brett Rypien during the final stretch of the season.
"I think Drew has got it in him and we're going to keep working with him on that," Fangio said.
The Broncos' head coach is hopeful the team's third-down success can continue with Lock under center and a run game that tallied 179 yards on Sunday.
"Hopefully," Fangio said. "We popped some runs in there, which is always good to have. [We] made some good catches and throws. We had a chance for another one there right before the half — Noah [Fant] slipped, and he was going to be able to make a cut that I think definitely would have got the first down and more. So yes, we definitely did have a better night on third down, and hopefully we can build on that and carry that over for the final four games."
The Broncos' biggest challenge, though, will be to avoid turnovers after their giveaway total climbed to a league-worst 28. No other team has turned it over more than 23 times, and the Broncos' turnover margin also ranks last in the NFL.
"We've got to get it corrected," Fangio said. "I think we lead the league in interceptions thrown. Obviously, that's where we got to start. We haven't gotten enough takeaways on defense — that's [also] where we got to start — and it's obviously an area that we need to improve on and it's an area that has held us back this season."
Rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy caught just one pass for five yards in Sunday night's loss, which was his lowest output of the season, save for a Week 12 loss to the Saints in which the Broncos didn't have a true quarterback.
Fangio, though, said the Broncos would continue to emphasize Jeudy in the offense.
"He's nicked a little bit," Fangio said. "He's not 100 percent, but just the way the game went, I think we only completed 14 balls. I think we threw it in the low 20s. We had a good amount of runs there. The ball just didn't seem to go his way, but he's definitely a guy that we like to get it to, want to get it to, and I foresee us getting it to."
Jeudy currently ranks fifth among rookie receivers in receiving yards and seventh in receptions.
FIRST GAME BACK
Defensive end Shelby Harris made his return to field on Sunday, and he recorded a pair of tackles, a quarterback hit and two passes defensed.
He played half of the Broncos' defensive snaps in the one-possession loss, and Fangio said he's hopeful that total will grow as the season ends.
"We'd like to build his snap count up as we go through these next four weeks," Fangio said. "I thought he played well last night. I thought that we managed his reps just about right, and hopefully we'll be able to get him more because he's definitely a guy we like to have in there."