ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the wake of the Broncos' decision to name Teddy Bridgewater as their starting quarterback, Drew Lock had several options.
He could have expressed his anger at Head Coach Vic Fangio and the decision. He could have been defiant and refused to help Bridgewater in the coming weeks. He could have been defeated and resigned to a backup role for the remainder of his time in Denver. Heck, he could have been outright brash and demanded a trade.
Lock did none of those things.
Instead, in a lengthy opening statement and ensuing question-and-answer session with reporters, a disappointed yet resolved Lock vowed to assist Bridgewater and his teammates and remain ready for what could be ahead.
"Obviously, it's disappointing," Lock said Wednesday. "Every feeling that you could possibly have at this point, this day, this circumstance, you know they're running deep. I feel like at the time, I was playing some of the best football I've played since I've been in the league. I was more confident than I've ever been. Most of you guys think of me as a confident guy, but I was probably more confident than I've been since I've been in the league since this OTAs, this training camp, this preseason. This is such a special team, I was hoping and looking forward to being able to lead this team.
"But no finger-pointing, no negativity. It's going to be about me finding ways to still make this team great, whether that's in practice, working with Teddy, trying to find ways for him to get better. Whatever he needs me to do, that's pretty much my goal. Look in the mirror, see what I need to get better at. Figure out what it is to keep progressing, keep getting better. Not taking any steps back, just keep taking steps forward without taking some of the reps. It was disappointing, but I'm going to do everything I can for this team, for Teddy and keep the momentum going forward as far as my play goes."
Lock acknowledged the news was tough to take, particularly when he had to sit in the team meeting and hear Fangio recount the news he'd just delivered to the quarterbacks to the rest of the team. The pain of the decision was only amplified by Fangio's acknowledgement that "there wasn't a lot of separation" between the two players. Fangio also noted that he made "the right decision for the team" rather than side with Lock because of his untapped upside and relative youth. Still, Lock said he won't let the team's choice impact his attitude moving forward.
"When we were in there and we were talking, you obviously ask, 'What could I have done different? What do I need to keep working on?'" Lock said. "It was extremely close. It was the timing deal. As nice as that is to hear it was that close, it's still tough. You work at it, you want it so bad and then it ends up not going in your favor. But you won't see me out here [acting any differently] — I was thinking about like, do I come out and, you know, smile around here, be my normal self? Because all right, they're going to think, 'Shoot, he doesn't care about not having the starting job.' But no, that's not [it]. I'm going to be myself every day I'm out here. I'm going to get better, I'm going to have fun. I'm going to bring energy to this practice, bring energy to this team and just keep being myself."
Fangio credited Lock for his maturity in handling the situation and said the third-year player was "full steam ahead" in improving as a quarterback. Throughout the course of training camp and the preseason, the Broncos' head coach has seen those strides in several areas.
"In everything, really," Fangio said when asked where Lock has improved. "His pocket awareness has improved, his command of the offense has improved, his accuracy has improved. I don't have any doubt that Drew's going to be a quality starting quarterback in this league."
For now, though, Lock will serve as Bridgewater's backup and try to remain ready in case he's called upon to play. And after not having a veteran quarterback serve as a true mentor over the past two years, Lock could also benefit from Bridgewater's knowledge and mentorship.
"There's a lot of great things about Teddy that I've realized since I've been here," Lock said. "I think from Day 1, I realized that some of the people that I've learned from in this position, compared to what Teddy does at this position, there's a lot of different ways to go about it. I really like the way he goes about it in terms of how he talks to the teammates, how he coaches on the field, stuff we do after practice, the little things he likes to focus on. I know right as you bring in a quarterback and it becomes a quarterback competition, it's whose chest is puffed out bigger and who can throw it better? Who can come out here and practice? But secretly, I was sitting back and learning everything I could from Teddy. One of the special things he's done that I've taken and I'm going to keep adding into my game is the way he communicates, the way he talks, how he operates after practices, trying to get the receivers on the same page as him. It's just something that I really [have] not necessarily been exposed to or seen. It's kind of crazy to think that it's been this long and I thought I was doing it the right way and doing it the best way I possibly could. And then when you see a new aspect, a new outlook on it, it's like, 'Wow, I can really take some of that and bring it into kind of what I'm doing and kind of merge the two.'"
The same experience that Lock will try to learn from may also be what resulted in Bridgewater taking the job.
"We kind of kept it as the 'it was just really close,'" Lock said of his conversation with Fangio. "It just came down to being able to choose, maybe a little bit of experience. Just, 'It was time to make the choice and it was close and both of you are starters in this league. I feel comfortable with this quarterback room [with] anything that happens.' That was kind of the response I got today. I truly feel the same. I think I said at the beginning, but I'm confident that if my time comes — you don't wish anything negative upon anybody ever, especially this position, because I know how hard it is to get to that starting spot — but if my time does come, I'll be ready for it whenever and there won't be any lack of work. I'm going to keep working every single day. I'm going to try to get to better every single day. If that time does come, then I'm going to be able to go out there and keep the play the same. If not, try to take it a little better."
And while Bridgewater likely hopes Lock doesn't replace him any time soon, the veteran quarterback hopes to be a resource for him for many years to come.
"Hopefully four or five years from now, I'm turning on the TV watching Drew play," Bridgewater said. "He's calling me on Saturdays, 'Hey, whatchu doing, man?' And I'm [like], 'Hey, I'm going to be watching you tomorrow. Hopefully we can just continue to grow, that way I can be that guy in his corner when he has questions throughout the course of his career."