ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In recent weeks, Vic Fangio, John Elway, Pat Shurmur and Drew Lock himself have spoken about the need for Lock to minimize mistakes and play cleaner football.
A play here and a play there have at times stained an otherwise solid stretch of quarterbacking that dates back to the Broncos' upset win over the Dolphins. The Broncos, though, sound dedicated to helping Lock fix some of the errors that have halted momentum or prevented a scoring drive.
The good news? Those problems don't appear to be irreparable.
"There's a lot of things that he's done really, really well and then there's some mistakes that become glaring when it comes from the quarterback position," Shurmur said Thursday. "Everything that he's done and made a mistake on is correctable."
That's not the case for every quarterback, according to Shurmur.
"A lot of time, sometimes it's the physical errors where a guy is just not capable of doing certain things that sometimes are not correctable," Shurmur said. "Obviously Drew's a really fine athlete that can do all those things. When I was making that point, I was saying [to Lock], 'Hey, listen, in hindsight, what would you have done?' And then he can say, 'Well, I'd have done this.' And then he's able to do that."
The ability to diagnose mistakes and point to an alternative plan suggests Lock may be able to rebound from a 15-interception season in which he's turned the ball over in every game but one. Perhaps the ability to scout his own game film can help him improve in that area.
"I think the biggest thing with having these games under my belt is being able to go back and watch myself at the end of this year and going into the offseason," Lock said Wednesday. "See where my tendencies are, where my incompletions are, my bad plays and my picks. Was there something consistent with all the picks? Where were my incompletions? … Was it more to my right so I need to push my shoulder out? Was it this style of drop, or was it that style of drop? Also, watch the division, because if you win your division, you're going to be pretty well set. There are a lot of things unlike last year where I had the small sample size. One was against Detroit and one was against Houston to where it wasn't exactly all our division. Now, I have a solid foundation of what I need to do this offseason and how to get better and make those steps to becoming a really good quarterback in this league."
Lock's play should benefit from more than just a reduction in turnovers. If the Broncos are able to undergo a more traditional offseason, Shurmur said there are plentyof ways to help the young quarterback improve.
"I think of Drew just throwing a slant route — people underestimate this, but in the offseason when you have a chance to just back it off and [on] a Tuesday in March, we're going to come in and [all] we're going to practice is slant routes," Shurmur said. "OK, well, you have to practice some left and right. If you throw six of them, you have to throw three under center and three in the gun. You have to practice them against free access, bump and run, and cloud because that's what happens outside. The timing for the quarterback is different — it's a plant throw, it's a bounce throw, and then you have to practice them in conjunction with a flat route where it's a second-window throw. I think of all the things that get done in the offseason, that this year's rookies, including Drew, were cheated on, and I'm excited about the work that we're going to be able to put in, hopefully, here in the offseason that will help the third year be better. I'm excited about all that, because I've seen these guys work in tough, strenuous situations where they really weren't fully aware of what they were getting into yet, and they battled through it."
Shurmur said he would have a detailed plan for Lock, though he said that would remain private.
If executed properly, Lock could presumably make strides both mentally and physically in 2021. Already, Shurmur said, there are signs that Lock has matured as a decision-maker.
"I think the important thing is to play with confidence, they play with moxie, but then not be anxious, because then you can't do the easy things," Shurmur said. "That's the fine line, and I think that's what experience brings to the table. I'm already looking through all these scheme-evaluation type things later in the evenings and I look at sacks. He's been sacked a couple of times — he got sacked a couple times the other night when he was running outside of the pocket, for a yard or minus yard, but he's done a really good job of avoiding the deep sack where he's pushing up in the pocket and it's minus-one or minus-two and he really hasn't been sacked all that much.
"… There are some things behind the scenes that I'm very excited about from Drew's perspective in all areas. I think those are the things we'll be able to talk about in detail here at the end of the season."
'AN A-PLUS GRADE'
Bradley Chubb was named the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner on Thursday for his mentality and effort in battling back from an ACL injury in 2019, and Head Coach Vic Fangio said he was proud of the third-year player's approach.
"It's a great culmination to his entire rehab process," Fangio said. "He got an A-plus grade for the way he approached the rehab from the day he started it. I saw how he carried it through in the offseason. He was very, very diligent, never let it get him down — our trainer said he was unbelievable in his approach. You're always going to hit a roadblock or two in rehab and he realized that and fought through it each and every time. I'm very happy for him, very proud for him to have that Ed Block Award. It's a great award. It's an award that's been around a long time in the NFL. I've been to the banquet a couple of times with previous players that I've coached, and [I'm] really happy for Bradley."
'KICK THE SAME KICK'
Kicker Brandon McManus has been impressive this season on kicks of more than 50 yards, as he's made 10-of-12 kicks from that distance that season. He has struggled, though, from closer to the uprights in recent weeks. McManus missed a 37-yarder against the Chargers and a pair of extra points against the Panthers in his previous game.
Special Teams Coordinator Tom McMahon said despite the miss against the Chargers, he was impressed by how McManus responded.
"I think the biggest thing is don't over-coach it, because then it becomes their identity," McMahon said. "They start to focus on the short ones. He needs just to kick the same kick all the time, and you got to move forward. If you look at that game, the one thing he did is miss the 37-yarder from the 27-yard line, which is a big disappointment, but you go to the next three kicks and he goes 50 and then 30 then 52 and got us right back in that game in that fourth quarter. So, to me, I focus on a guy's strengths, and Brandon's strength is Brandon. That's why he is good, and he'll recover from those situations. Any mistakes that are made in terms of execution, I put that on myself. There's all kinds of things in the operation that can always help a kicker."