The Broncos are happy that Drew Lock has signed his rookie contract, but that doesn’t mean Vic Fangio believes he’s ready to play in the NFL.
Drew Lock may be the quarterback of the Broncos future, but it’s clear that his coaching staff doesn’t regard him as a player capable of helping the team in the present. Head coach Vic Fangio’s recent comments about the rookie signal caller make it very clear that Joe Flacco is comfortably ensconced as the team’s starter.
Fangio went so far as to say that Lock “isn’t a quarterback yet.” Instead, he referred to him as a hard thrower that still needs to “learn how to pitch.” That’s not exactly an encouraging sign for Broncos fans hoping that Lock could push Flacco for playing time this season.
Then again, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that Fangio is not in love with Lock at the moment. He’s a defensive-minded coach who wants to build his team around a dominant defense. Part of that formula means that his quarterback needs to take care of the football. As a veteran, Flacco is in a much better position to do that than Lock will be as a rookie.
It will be interesting to see how far Lock can progress in his head coach’s eyes during training camp and the preseason. At the very least, the Broncos need for Lock to ascend to the role as Flacco’s backup. If he can’t beat out the likes of Kevin Hogan and Brett Rypien for that role, it should be a red flag about how the Broncos feel about Lock’s future.
The way the Broncos play early in the season could also influence the way the organization views Lock’s immediate future. If Denver falls out of the playoff race early in the year, it won’t make much sense to keep trotting Flacco out onto the field. Instead, Broncos officials could easily prioritize getting Lock ready to play meaningful games in 2020 over everything else. That decision might not sit well with Flacco or other veterans on the team, but it’s their responsibility to win enough games early in the year to keep the rookie quarterback on the bench.
No matter what, it’s still prudent for Fangio to speak more positively about Lock to the media. Trying to take pressure off him early in his career is one thing. Accusing him of not being a quarterback is quite another. The Broncos need for Lock to be a success. If he doesn’t work out, it could cost a lot of people inside the organization their jobs.