Evaluating Broncos quarterback competition after preseason Week 2


Evaluating Broncos quarterback competition after preseason Week 2
Aug 21, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) scrambles out of the pocket to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos are past their second preseason game, and seemingly almost to the end of their quarterback competition. The Broncos are in the middle of an “even-steven”, 50/50 quarterback competition between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock.

After their first preseason game, Drew Lock was the clear leader. His performance was not only efficient but at times spectacular.

As the clock nears midnight of the preseason, though, head coach Vic Fangio’s decision has gotten much more difficult on the surface.

During both preseason games, both quarterbacks played well, causing angst in Broncos Country.

Using the six-step criteria provided given by Jenkins Elite CEO and former NFL quarterback Tim Jenkins, the goal of this article is to break down how well each quarterback player played against the Seattle Seahawks in the Week 2 preseason matchup.

Assessing Teddy Bridgewater’s first start for Broncos

Bridgewater had his first opportunity to start a preseason game against the Seahawks. And in that game Saturday night, he did not disappoint.

Bridgewater showed his typical cool and calm demeanor, with a little bit of an edge.

In this clip, the two-gloved veteran rips a nice deep incut to Jerry Jeudy on an early fourth-down attempt.

Tremendous pocket presence from Teddy Bridgewater here as he rips a beautiful ball on a deep in to Jerry Jeudy. #Broncos pic.twitter.com/zBB3mzBIWv

— Patricia's Son (@Dr_NManning) August 22, 2021

Additionally, the former first-round pick shows some great pocket awareness and nimble footwork to avoid the rush. On this play, Bridgewater finds his outlet and running back Royce Freeman does the rest.

Really impressed by Teddy Bridgewater's footwork here. Stays ready under pressure and knows where his outlet is. #Broncos pic.twitter.com/dRuw0tJKUL

— Patricia's Son (@Dr_NManning) August 22, 2021

Bridgewater tops it off with an easy throw off a great read to K.J. Hamler for six.

Great read and easy throw from Teddy Bridgewater here. #Broncos pic.twitter.com/k7xrqGCKiK

— Patricia's Son (@Dr_NManning) August 22, 2021

Finally, Bridgewater shows good vision and wonderful ball placement as he finds his receiver Eric Saubert just short of the goal line. The Broncos would punch it in for the team’s second touchdown in as many drives.

Big boy throw from Teddy Bridgewater here up the left sideline to the TE. Loved the step up and confidence from TB on this throw. #Broncos pic.twitter.com/yPCFkAiOOR

— Patricia's Son (@Dr_NManning) August 22, 2021

One area one could not help notice was Bridgewater’s lack of arm strength. Though the team was able to convert their three fourth-down conversions of the opening quarter, his throw left Jeudy short of the sticks. Simply, No. 5 just did not have enough on the throw to get it to his receiver fast enough.

One thing that is noticeable is Teddy Bridgewater's lack of velocity. This ball takes some time to get to Jeudy, who has to come back for it. This causes some lost ground and loses a sure 1st down. #Broncos pic.twitter.com/E8VlNxHqni

— Patricia's Son (@Dr_NManning) August 22, 2021

The offense scored touchdowns on both of Bridgewater’s drives, and he contributed mightily to them.

He made clutch throws when he needed to. Additionally, the run game looked efficient at times. Rookie Javonte Williams had a few nice runs as did Freeman. This could indicate that Bridgewater kept the team in the right play or checked into the right run call when needed.

Bridgewater did not feel the pressure and avoided taking a sack. No free rushers hit the quarterback and he seemed to have control of the protection calls as well.

The second-game starter was aided by running with the entire first-team offensive line and the advantage of going for it on fourth down three separate times.

Additionally, he had a miscommunication with Hamler on a go-route. The wide receiver continued on his route and Bridgewater looked to throw it behind him, trying to throw the “stop.”

Finally, he did not execute any “shot”plays, but was aggressive in hitting Jeudy on the deep in route.

In the end, Bridgewater was 9-of-11 for 105 yards passing and a touchdown. He ended the game with a quarterback passer rating of 136.7 and checked 5-of-6 total boxes.

Assessing performance of Drew Lock

Unlike in Week 1, Lock’s night started roughly from the first snap. The leader in the clubhouse was sacked twice on his first possession leading to a three-and-out.

Lock got the ball back with just over a minute to go and drove the offense down the field for an end-of-the-half field goal.

It began with a nice throw to Diontae Spencer on the left sideline. He stood tall in the pocket and threaded it into the diminutive receiver.

Really like this throw from Drew Lock. Stayed patient in the pocket and hits Spencer for a big gain to set up a end of half score. pic.twitter.com/xyzQ3gYwHP

— Patricia's Son (@Dr_NManning) August 22, 2021

Later in the drive, Lock shows some growth and maturity as a player. He dropped back with 12 seconds left on the clock, looked towards Trinity Benson who was open to his left. Lock sailed the ball over his receiver by several yards. The young quarterback knew completing this ball would result in Benson being tackled in bounds and the clock running out. He showed good game awareness by making sure his team got three points.

In the second half, Lock showed his potential as a playmaker. He went through his progressions and made a great play leading to another big gain, this time shoveling the pass to Seth Williams.

Lock showed his ability to go through his progressions and remain patient. Then, uses his plus athleticism to make a phenomenal play for a big gain and keep the drive alive. #Broncos pic.twitter.com/ChSMbeHTBI

— Patricia's Son (@Dr_NManning) August 22, 2021

That drive ended in a field goal and could have been a touchdown. Lock stumbled after being stepped on, which ended it prematurely. It seems like he could have gotten into a position to hand off the ball quicker. However, it does seem like there was an issue with the exchange in the play. Either way, it’s something the team will want to address in practice this week.

I think Drew Lock is slow out center here and leads to an almost turnover. Good awareness to keep the ball, but a correction that has to be made. #Broncos pic.twitter.com/DhNARWkb4j

— Patricia's Son (@Dr_NManning) August 22, 2021

The offense struggled with Lock much more than they did with Bridgewater. However, the third-year quarterback engineered three scoring drives and nine points.

Additionally, Lock did not have a turnover.

The run game was not as effective with Lock. Some plays looked like a good call was made, but a missed block or read by the back led to minimal gains.

Lock did feel lots of pressure and was hit quickly by two onrushing Seahawks. This would indicate a blown assignment either on Lock for not sliding the protection or by the lineman simply missing their block.

He did miss a few opportunities in the quick game but also converted on a few.

Lastly, Lock was unable to really look for a “shot” play. Lock simply took what the defense gave him.

He finished with 9-of-14 for 80 yards, no touchdowns, and a rating of 79.5.

In the end, Lock checked 4-of-6 total boxes.

Conclusion

Fangio emphasized the importance of the preseason games. Therefore, things may be back to even after Game 2.

Based on the efficiency of Bridgewater, he was the better quarterback against the Seahawks.

With Lock’s near-perfect performance in Game 1, the lead over Bridgewater seemed insurmountable.

However, Bridgewater responded as well as he could have.

Though one can argue against the variables either quarterback had in each game may not give an even read on who is winning, there is a difficult decision for Fangio regardless.

The head coach stated he was, “Pretty damn close” to identifying a starter before the Seahawks game. One could only imagine that was Lock. Did Teddy change his mind? Does recency bias kick in for Fangio and he weighs the Seahawks game with more importance?

We are all left to guess who is going to be named the starter as both players have shown up and shown out.

It seems that Bridgewater could have jumped ahead with his steady play going into the final preseason game. Lock has shown improvement but has not taken the job from Bridgewater many hoped he would.

Will Fangio pick the guy who gives the offense his highest ceiling (Lock) or go with the veteran who will prevent the team from bottoming out?

Broncos Country is on pins and needles awaiting the decision.

Nicholas Manning