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'That's an 11-man operation': HC Vic Fangio knows entire offense must improve for passing game to succeed

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Drew Lock entered Sunday's game vs. the Chiefs with a chance to earn a signature win against a division rival and his hometown team.

He exited with the biggest loss of his young career, two more interceptions and questions about the offense's effectiveness.

Lock took responsibility Sunday for a 24-of-40 performance for 254 yards, three sacks, two interceptions and a 57.7 quarterback rating. He vowed he would improve — both in his work during practice and on the field during games.

"I can play a whole lot better and I'm going to," Lock said after the 43-16 loss.

Yet while Lock has thrown four interceptions and zero touchdowns since returning from his injury, Head Coach Vic Fangio sees larger issues than just the second-year quarterback.

"I think as a team we just need to fix our entire passing game," Fangio said Monday. "We just haven't thrown it very efficiently the last two weeks. That's an 11-man operation, that's us as coaches — we're all in it together and we have to go to work on that. It has to improve, no doubt about it. As the quarterback, he's the main focus as always, but I think we all need to keep in mind that it is an 11-man operation and us as coaches are involved, too. We have to make improvements there, there's no two ways about that."

Fangio did acknowledge that Lock needed to "play better" and "eliminate the negative plays," but he said the only way Lock would continue to improve was by continuing to take reps.

One area in which Lock wants to see himself improve is decision-making. On several occasions Sunday, Lock passed up an open player at the line to gain for a chance to throw the deep pass.

"There's a fine line between taking what the defense gives you and then when they don't give you what you want, trying to make a play," Lock said. "I can make the plays when they're there, but I've just got to get a little better judgment on when it's time to make that play or say, 'You know what, they got us.'

"Eventually we'll stop having this conversation, but it needs to happen faster than later, and it will."

The Broncos would be well-served to make those improvements, as they currently rank 26th in passing offense and 28th in points per game.


For the third time in the last three games, the Broncos turned the ball over multiple times. And, just as they did against the Jets in Week 4, they also finished with a minus-three turnover margin.

While there were other issues on Sunday against the Chiefs, Fangio said the turnover margin is the first place to focus.

"That's always where you first look," Fangio said. "Any time you're minus-three and give up a kickoff return for a touchdown, it's going to be hard and you're going to be hard-pressed to beat anybody, let alone the Chiefs. We're turning the ball over. Last year we did not turn it over that much. I think we've turned it over the most or the second-most times in the league this year. It's obviously an area that we've got to improve on, because you can overcome minus-one many times but when you start getting minus-two, minus-three — and some of those go for pick sixes — you've got problems and it's going to be hard to win."

At minus-eight, the Broncos currently have the second-worst turnover margin in the league.


Denver allowed a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that helped break the game open on Sunday, and it was just the latest of several special teams miscues this season. The Broncos gave up a safety on a punt against Pittsburgh and allowed a blocked punt to open the game against Tampa Bay.

"We've had too many negative plays in the kicking game this year," Fangio said. "We've got to do a better job of covering. Guys have to be able to beat the blocks in space one on one, and we've got to come off blocks. There's no doubt about that. Our special teams play overall and the coverage unit hasn't been good enough when you look at the total picture. That's an area that we'll continue to work on and hopefully get better [at] here soon."

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