ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos prepare for the final two games of the 2020 season, members of the media and the team's fan base are already looking ahead.
And their focus is on one position — and one player — in particular.
Through 16 starts, Lock has compiled an 8-8 record and has completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 2,330 yards, 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season. Over his last four games, Lock has taken steps, as he's completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 833 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions since starting 0-of-6 against the Dolphins. He has also lost two fumbles, including one that was returned for a touchdown against Buffalo.
As he prepares to play the Chargers, Lock knows people are talking about him and his future — and he knows why.
"The quarterback is the most important position on the field, and everyone wants to talk about it," Lock said Wednesday. "Everyone thinks they can play it better than what they're seeing on the TV, so it's just an easy position for people to talk about and gossip about. It is what it is when you play this position. I'm looking forward to going out and making another claim this week that I should be the guy here and keep winning, try to win these last two and then just show what I can do. I do believe I'm the guy here. With progressing over time with this offense and hopefully getting another year in the same offense, the sky is the limit for us as a young team. We learned a lot this year. We're going to keep learning and keep making plays, and hopefully win these last two and look forward to going into the next season."
Head Coach Vic Fangio and President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway have said in their assessments that Lock continues to show signs of progress but needs to cut down on turnovers.
"He makes a lot of good plays, good throws, makes good plays with his feet, he's athletic, can avoid the pressure, can scramble and make plays," Fangio said Wednesday. "We just need to see more of it. Keep improving in all the little things that Drew can improve on. Nobody's working harder than him to do that. He has the great want to and the great drive to be a great quarterback. We just hope to see constant improvement from him."
Lock has agreed with those evaluations, and he said Wednesday he also needs to stack strong performances rather than bounce from a good game to sub-par one.
"Stacking would be huge, and to be able to say, 'Here's a win, here's a win and here's a good game, and here's another good game in a row,'" Lock said. "That's the kind of rhythm that you want to get into during the season. For me, it's just going to be keeping the same prep going into each week. Not trying to amp it up too much and not trying to [get complacent] — you had a good week but let a couple of things slip throughout the week. That's one thing you can't do; it's all about being ready for that Sunday, taking every advantage during the week to be able to be ready for Sunday. It's just about, again, preparing the same way every single week, trying to find the differences between the teams we're playing and to be able to go out there and realize what you're seeing and complete passes, keep the chains moving and go score touchdowns."
One sign of Lock's development comes in the red zone, where the Broncos have scored touchdowns on their last five trips.
"We have a good plan in the red zone every single week and we executed well," Lock said. "We focus a lot on it during the week and realize that when you get down there, it's not about field goals, it's about us sticking it in the end zone and finishing that drive. We're all on the same page."
Lock cited the team's focus on small details and how that's led to success. If the team were to move forward with the same offensive system and regain the benefits of a traditional offseason schedule, perhaps the offense could make strides in other areas of the game.
"It would mean everything for us, including myself," Lock said. "Not only [to] get to do Phase 1 and Phase 2 and meet with coaches, but talk over offensive planning again and rehash some of the things that we might have had to skip over at the beginning of this year just to be able to get into bigger picture things, be able to go out and run an offense and put it on the field, get chemistry with wide receivers and even snap counts with the offensive line. There's just a lot of stuff that you don't want to brush over, but if it was a bigger-picture item, you had to focus on that. There were some smaller things with the amount of time that we had, that we had to talk about very briefly and get going. I feel like having a full offseason and being able to talk over everything — like I said, chemistry with the offensive line, chemistry with wide receivers, knowing what the identity is going into the year and really knowing what we're good at — that would be huge for this team and huge for everybody on this offense."
Before Lock gets to the offseason program, he'll aim to prove over the final two weeks of the season that he deserves to be Denver's signal-caller headed into 2021.
"I think the biggest thing in this league is winning games," Lock said. "It's going to be about me going out there and letting my play represent winning play from a quarterback. The ball is in my hands every single snap, and it's about me taking care of it and helping us move that ball down the field to be able to score points to win a game. In my mind, that's all I want to do. I want to win these last two with whatever it takes, whether that's me handing the ball off 50 times or it's me throwing it 50 times.
"Whatever it's going to take for us to win this game, it's my job to play my best football to help us go do that."
A REUNION WITH CHJ
After nine years in a Broncos uniform, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. will face his former team for the first time in Week 16 — and he's unsure what the moment will bring.
"I can't really describe … what I'm going to feel like," Harris said Wednesday.
Harris said he has stayed in touch with several of his former teammates, including Von Miller, and he praised the Pro Bowl selections of Bradley Chubb and Justin Simmons. Harris said he voted for Chubb and that Simmons should've made the Pro Bowl last year, as well.
"It was a brotherhood over there," Harris said, "and it just happened that I had to go to the dark side."
As Harris looked ahead to this year's matchup, he cited Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and Noah Fant as the Broncos' biggest offensive threats, and he said that while Lock has turned the ball over more than a season ago, he remains a dangerous player.
"I think this year has been a little bit more rough for Drew compared to the last five starts last year when he came in," Harris said. "… He's definitely up and down. He's had a little bit more turnovers … with the fumbles and interceptions. But he can still get hot. He can still make those throws and can still tear you apart. You've got to be ready. You can never sleep on Drew. He can get hot real fast, and he can still make all the throws. He's just had a turnover issue earlier during this season, which he knows he probably has to clean that up."
Fourth-year tackle Garett Bolles was not named to the 2021 Pro Bowl despite being one of Pro Football Focus' top-ranked tackles, but he said Wednesday that his goals remain the same.
"I was disappointed, but at the same time I'm proud of Justin Simmons and Bradley Chubb for their rewards and their outstanding play this year," Bolles said. "But at the same time, I didn't start this season to win an award, I started this season to be the best player I can be on and off the field. It's not up to me if I win an award or not. What's up to me is to continue to go out there and be the best at my position and improve every single play. I go back and I watched film and worked so hard this offseason to improve those little things. So, at the end of the day, my job is to help us win games and to focus on that and I plan on doing that the year after and the year after that. As long as I'm in the NFL, I'm going to try to be the best I can be in my position."