Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio said his team’s quarterback competition was “even Steven” going into Saturday’s preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Then he watched Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater do all they could to keep it that way.
Both quarterbacks led scoring drives, looked comfortable in the offense and avoided the kind of big mistakes that cratered the team’s 2020 season as the Broncos cruised to a 33-6 victory in U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
“I thought that they both played well,” Fangio said to the media following the game. ” … They both were helped by the overall play of our offense, we ran the ball well early that sets up our play-action game. … And then Teddy gets in there and moves the team well. I don’t think any separation happened in this game if anybody’s looking for it. … I’m thrilled they both played well. I want it to be a hard decision.”
Lock, who opened the game with a smattering of starters around him, including wide receiver Jerry Jeudy as well as tight end Noah Fant, center Lloyd Cushenberry III and guard Graham Glasgow, showed a calm, decisive demeanor on the way to 5-of-7 passing for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Lock connected on an 80-yard catch-and-run score to KJ Hamler.
Lock flourished in a Broncos’ offense that stayed in bigger personnel groupings much of the time — with at least two tight ends or two backs in all but three of his 19 snaps — as the Broncos moved the ball well in all three of his possessions. The Broncos drove to the Vikings’ 4-yard line on the first possession of the game, but turned the ball over on downs when Lock and Jeudy failed to connect in the end zone.
The Broncos then scored on each of Lock’s other two possessions with a quality look in the run game — rookie running back Javonte Williams had 29 yards on his three carries — and play action.
It was just the kind of outing the Broncos have wanted to see from Lock, who tied for the league lead in interceptions last season and was also last among the league’s starters in completion percentage. Lock has had moments in training camp when he has thrown an interception in red zone drills against the Broncos’ first- and second-team defenses.
But he did not put a ball in harm’s way Saturday.
“It was a good feeling,” Lock said. ” … Absolutely happier, feels good to put some points up on the board … just fun to be a part of.”
Bridgewater kept things moving with 7-of-9 passing for 74 yards and a touchdown. Like Lock, Bridgewater was not sacked and also had a rushing touchdown called back because of a penalty on Cameron Fleming.
“To go out there and execute at a high level with all three units, it was good to see,” Bridgewater said. ” … No one really cares who’s back there, we just want to win football games.”
The Broncos scored on both of Bridgewater’s drives as well. In all, the Broncos scored on four of the combined five possessions the top two quarterbacks played in the game.
The Broncos did not punt when Lock or Bridgewater were in the game as the two finished a combined 12-of-15 passing for 225 yards and three touchdowns. Bridgewater will start Saturday’s preseason game in Seattle.
“If you’re not punting the all, you’re obviously doing something right and that gives not just Teddy and I, but the whole offense a lot of confidence,” Lock said.
Quarterback Brett Rypien entered the game with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter and closed out the day.