ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It didn't take long to look forward.
On Sunday, Drew Lock completed 21-of-27 passes for 280 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the Broncos' 32-27 win over the Panthers. His 149.5 quarterback rating was the third-highest output in franchise history, behind only performances from Peyton Manning and John Elway.
By Monday, though, the focus had turned to the future, as Head Coach Vic Fangio was asked whether the team was still evaluating Lock ahead of next season.
"I think everybody's always being evaluated each and every week," Fangio said Monday. "Obviously, we've committed a lot to Drew here. We want to see him keep improving, and we're hopeful and anticipating that he will."
Lock, just 15 starts into his career, has gone 4-6 this season as he's completed 57.3 percent for his passes for 2,198 yards, 13 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 74.8 quarterback rating. While his completion percentage has dropped and his interception rate has risen from a year ago, Sunday's win may show development from the second-year player.
Lock said after the game that he recognized the value of short and intermediate passes, and he avoided throwing an interception for the first time since Week 2.
"He's got to go through his progressions and be quicker to maybe find the shorter outlets more so than we have in the past," Fangio said. "I thought he did a good job of that yesterday, and when we had something downfield, he did a good job of hitting the guys."
Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur's game plan and play-calling may have also aided that effort.
"I thought Pat did a great job getting a feel for the game and making some really nice calls," Fangio said. "The tight end screen to 'Fum' [TE Troy Fumagalli] was a big play. The play action to [WR Tim] 'Timmy' Patrick was a big play, and obviously we had a couple big plays to [WR] KJ [Hamler]. [WR] Jerry [Jeudy] had one also, and [we] had a nice screen pass in there to [RB] Melvin [Gordon]. I thought we had a really good mix there throughout the game."
OFFENSIVE LINE PLAY
The Broncos expected to be without guard Graham Glasgow on Sunday, as they listed him as doubtful for Week 14 and downgraded him to out on Saturday.
They received another curveball Sunday morning, though, as Garett Bolles was unable to start for the first time in his career due to an illness.
Bolles has since returned to Denver and has not tested positive for COVID-19, but his absence gave Calvin Anderson a chance to make the second start of his career. Netane Muti made the first appearance of his career in place of Glasgow, and Elijah Wilkinson returned to his right tackle position instead of Demar Dotson.
Despite featuring three new starters, the Broncos allowed just one sack and helped Gordon rush for 68 yards on 13 carries.
"I thought they all three did a nice job, particularly Elijah, who hadn't played in a long time," Fangio said Monday. "Muti had never played in a regular NFL game. I thought they both did good and they were side by side there and I thought they worked well together. I thought Calvin went in and did a nice job also."
Fangio said Wilkinson will likely continue to start at right tackle.
"We could have started Elijah the week before, and we just wanted to give him another week of prep and practice," Fangio said. "We'll probably stay that course right now."
As the Broncos enter the final three weeks of the season, Fangio said he expected Gordon to continue to be available as his legal situation continues to play out.
"Yeah, we're proceeding as business as usual," Fangio said. "The status hasn't changed up to this point. So, until that happens, it's just business as usual with Melvin."