Paul Klee's rapid reactions to the Broncos' win Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers:
1. There is hope in Broncos Country. He wears No. 3. Now if the Broncos will shed their various fears, rookie quarterback Drew Lock might have a chance to clean up this mess. Making his NFL debut, Lock threw a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter — both to Courtland Sutton — to offer hope to a sparse crowd at Empower Field at Mile High. Lock completed 18 of 28 passes for 134 yards, one interception and a passer rating of 84.5 as the Broncos held off Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Brandon McManus' 53-yard field goal won it with no time left on the clock.
2. Vic Fangio has some 'splaining to do. It wasn’t until the Broncos coaching staff took the ball out of Lock’s hands that the Chargers had a shot to win. With 2:24 left in the first half and three timeouts in their back pocket, the Broncos inexplicably called two running plays for Phillip Lindsay. Courtland Sutton promptly threw up his hands in disbelief. The crowd booed Fangio’s decision to run out the clock. OK, so the quarterback is a rookie making his first start. But the Broncos are 3-8. If nothing else, why not see how Drew Lock handles a 2-minute drill?
3. There is, perhaps, no greater testament to the influence of a quarterback than Sunday’s first half. The Broncos were without Von Miller (knee), Bradley Chubb (knee) and Shane Ray (unemployed) — a trio of first-round pass-rushers. Yet the Broncos built a 17-3 lead thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from Lock, a second-round quarterback. Memo for the NFL draft in April: even if Lock continues to impress, the Broncos still should consider a quarterback.
4. How’s this for a sideshow: the kicker and the coach had a spat on the sideline. Initially called onto the field to attempt a 64-yard field goal to close the first half, McManus was called back to the sideline. He didn’t appreciate the decision. McManus first had words with Fangio. Then he ripped off his helmet and launched it at the bench, startling teammates. While there is no official account, Sunday likely marked the first time a Broncos kicker has thrown his helmet in disgust at a coaching decision.
5. What are the Broncos so afraid of? They were afraid to announce Drew Lock as the starting quarterback, resulting in an astounding 19,000 no-shows Sunday. They were afraid to play Lock this season at all, preferring to let the rookie sit until an injury to Joe Flacco forced their hand. They were afraid during the game, too, evidenced by their decision to eschew a 2-minute drill and gift three points to the Chargers. In the words of Allen Iverson: If you’re scared, get a dog. What should have been a Sunday celebration of a new quarterback instead reeked of fear.