ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —After Drew Lock threw a career high four interceptions in Sunday's loss to the Raiders, Head Coach Vic Fangio reiterated that the Broncos were committed to the young quarterback.
"We're committed to Drew, and the more he can play, the better he'll be," Fangio said Sunday afternoon. "He's got to fight through this like most young quarterbacks do at some point in their career and we're going to continue to play him."
Fangio reiterated that stance Monday and said he believes Lock will benefit more from being on the field than observing on the sideline for a game or two.
"I just think he's at the point now where he's watched a lot," Fangio said. "Last year he was out 10 weeks, 11 weeks, and did a good bit of watching then. [He] got to finish the season last year, he missed three games this year, got to do a lot of watching then. I think he's at the point where he's got to play to get through this little funk that our entire team is going through — not just [the] offense — and for him to improve and for him to grow."
Lock's status for this week may be in doubt for medical reasons, but Fangio said he sees improvement from Lock even though the results haven't followed.
"When you go back and look at the four games or five games that he played last year, outside of the Houston game, the games were pretty low-scoring ones, even the ones we won," Fangio said. "I see definite improvement. There's no question that he has the talent to go out there and do a good job for us. He's just going through the growing pains of being a young quarterback. We're going through the growing pains of adjusting the offense to him, but I definitely see improvements."
Fangio said Lock's struggles — he has 10 interceptions over the last five games — aren't solely related to just mechanical issues or mental struggles.
"I think those two go hand in hand," Fangio said. "I don't think you can say one way or the other. If you're not seeing it right, usually your mechanics can suffer a little bit. We have to do a better job through all of this. All of our fingerprints are on the [bad] performance — us as coaches, players, everybody involved — and we have to do a good job of getting him dialed in and zeroed in a little bit better."
ESTABLISHING THE RUN
As the Broncos aim to get Lock and their offense back on track, they would be aided by a more consistent running game. The rushing attack was competent in the first half as Melvin Gordon III carried the ball nine times for 38 yards, and the team had good balance between the run and pass until the team's final drive of the half. Understandably, the team leaned heavily on the passing attack during its final drive inside of two minutes.
Denver ran just four plays in the third quarter — two passing, two rushing — and trailed by 14 points when they got the ball back late in the third quarter. They quickly fell behind by three scores as Lock was intercepted on the first play of the fourth quarter, which essentially ended Denver's chances of calling a balanced game.
Still, Fangio admitted the need to establish a strong running game.
"That would be a great help," Fangio said. "It would be. We were trying the run yesterday. It didn't always work out well and then we had the two-minute drive at the end of the half, so a good bit of that is throwing. Then we start off with a couple three-and-outs in the second half, and we ran it the first- and second-down plays and then after that we got behind. So, you're not going to get a lot of opportunities in the run game when you're behind, and we weren't getting a lot of opportunities early either because we weren't successful with it. So, no doubt that a better run game would help any quarterback."
On the first play of the second quarter, Josh Jacobs plowed ahead on a fourth-and-1 attempt from the Denver 30-yard line. Jacobs was stopped near the line to gain, but the Raiders were whistled for holding on the play. Fangio accepted the 10-yard penalty, which forced a Las Vegas punt. The Raiders downed the ball at the Denver 2-yard line, and the Broncos proceeded to go three-and-out.
On Monday, Fangio was asked whether he considered declining the penalty and challenging the spot of the ball, which would've given Denver the ball at its own 30-yard line.
"I was ready to challenge," Fangio said. "They spotted it as a first down. I was ready to challenge it because obviously if they didn't make it it'd be our ball there, and they wouldn't have the opportunity to punt. The guys in the box that were checking the replay said it was very indeterminate and gray whether we would win that challenge. We chose not to challenge, but that's what we were thinking."