The Broncos got back on the winning track on Sunday by beating the Chargers by a score of 23-20. It was the debut of rookie quarterback Drew Lock, and he played well in leading his team to the win. His energy and excitement for the game was infectious for the rest of the team, and Denver responded to his on-field leadership.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio revealed that he did believe that energy rubbed off on the rest of the team.
“It probably did. I’m not sure to what degree,” Fangio said.
The Broncos get back on the road for the next two games with four games remaining. Up next, a road game against the Texans. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from Week 13 win.
The most-important thing we saw from Lock on Sunday was the fact that the game was not too big for him. Several rookie or backup quarterbacks thrust into the lineup have problems with simply running the game, getting the team in and out of the huddle and simply calling plays in time. None of that seemed to be a problem for Lock.
This should come as no surprise as Lock was a four-year starter in college at Missouri. He started plenty of games in college and played in plenty of big games in the SEC – arguably the toughest conference in college football.
Fangio didn’t go overboard with his praise of Lock after the game, but he did share some important words when asked about his impressions of Lock’s debut.
“I think he did fine. Obviously, what you saw out there, the throwing and the pass offense is what you’re mainly looking at. I think he handled himself well during the game, calling plays in the huddle, not looking like the situation was too big for him. I didn’t think he was nervous, so that part was just as good. He should keep improving,” Fangio said.
The offense got off to a hot start, but that was not maintained throughout the rest of the game. Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello has put together some good game plans when it comes to the scripted plays, but for weeks, we’ve seen the team fall off when they get past those first scripted plays. On Sunday against the Chargers, this trend unfortunately continued.
There was one moment early in the game where the Broncos recovered a muffed punt and were nearly in the red zone upon the recovery. Instead of taking a shot to the end zone after a turnover (like most teams would do), the Broncos ran the ball three times in a row, failed to move the chains and ended up settling for a field goal.
After the game, I asked Fangio if he felt the offense was too conservative at that point and if he would like them to be more aggressive. Fangio felt the team was okay with their effort at the time.
“We weren’t being conservative. I think the third down play was a third-and-one. We thought we could make it on third-and-1 with the running play,” Fangio said.
Brandon McManus lost his mind near the end of the half on Sunday. The team was in position for McManus to try a 65-yard field goal with time expiring before the intermission, but instead Fangio called the field goal unit back to the sideline.
McManus was ticked off, throwing his helmet when he got back to the bench and yelling in the direction of everyone around him. He really lost his cool since he was denied the chance to kick a record-setting field goal – from a distance that he can and has regularly hit in warmups or out at practice.
After the game, Fangio acted like the rift was no big deal.
“I didn’t want to try the 65-yarder. At that point, I didn’t think it was desperation. I’ve seen many times where guys go out there and try extra-long kicks. They alter the mechanics and it affects him the rest of the game. I’m going to say that that decision not to let him go out there for the 65-yarder led him to making the 52 and the 53-yarder,” Fangio said.
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