ENGLEWOOD • All smiles, this guy. Tap his left shoulder and run right, like Von Miller did Tuesday, Drew Lock smiles. Throw a pick to Chris Harris Jr., Drew Lock swears. Then smiles.
“It was Chris Harris,” Lock justified after the interception on Day 11 of Broncos camp.
“I was still pretty (ticked) at myself,” he added.
Good! Get (ticked). Get angry. Then get even.
If you’re watching the Hall of Fame Game with the Broncos and Falcons on Thursday, you’re a real one. And you’re probably watching the quarterbacks. (Except for Joe Flacco. As the designated, sure-fire starting quarterback he won’t play in the first of five preseason games.) You’re watching Lock, the second-round pick dubbed the QOTF (Quarterback of the Future) and John Elway’s latest swing at QB glory.
I’m watching Lock, too — to see how he fails. I want to see Lock’s response when he gets picked again, when it’s not fun and games, when it’s not tossing the pigskin around with the boys on the Augusta fairways at UCHealth Training Center. I want to see Lock when he’s not smiling like a frat boy on Friday.
Because the last QOTF crumbled like a Jenga board when something bad happened. There’s still a hole on the west wall inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse. Residents call it the Paxton Patch, and it’s where Lynch aimed and launched a football — on fourth-and-goal. Yep, fourth-and-goal. Bang, right into the wall. Turnover on downs.
It was about that time you knew Lynch wasn’t the actual QOTF, just a pretend QOTF. The Broncos need a quarterback who’s cocky enough to believe failure is simply a detour to success.
“I’m not done swinging and missing,” Elway said prior to the 2018 draft. “Misses don’t bother me.”
That’s what the Broncos need in a quarterback — one who’s cocky enough to believe the next touchdown is on the next series, with a memory short enough to forget the pick to Chris Harris.
“I’ll go back and look at everything that happened,” Lock said.
Vic Fangio’s plan for the quarterbacks Thursday: Kevin Hogan, listed as QB2 on the first depth chart, will start the game and play alongside a handful of starters (offensive linemen Garett Bolles, Connor McGovern and Dalton Risner among them). Then comes Lock, then comes Brett Rypien.
Then comes four more preseason games, or too many. Shoot, the Broncos have more preseason games than the Nuggets, who have four. Something silly about that, but Fangio digs it.
This weekend takes Broncos legends Pat Bowlen and Champ Bailey into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It also takes Fangio, a 60-year-old football lifer, down memory lane. As a kid, Fangio was a Butkus fan, a Namath fan, an Eagles fan. “And those were some down years (for the Eagles),” he said. He hopes to take a photo with Broncos offensive line coach Mike Munchak alongside Munchak’s bust in Canton. He hopes to escape the game with a healthy roster. He hopes that coaching from the sideline — instead of up in the booth — is no biggie.
Anyway, Lock loves the new offensive coordinator. Rich Scangarello makes him smile. (So does the sun, lunch, puppies and Von.) And Scangarello warned the first defense Lock will see in the NFL — Atlanta’s defense, cut from the mold of Seattle’s defense and the Chargers’ defense — is new to Lock.
“It will not be an easy transition,” Scangarello said.
Good. Hope he gets picked off and ticked off — then gets even.
Fangio runs drills specifically to put players in a bad spot. If he’s certain the preseason opponent will run a pass play, he won’t give safety help to a cornerback. It’s like the basketball coach who pairs his star point guard with four walk-ons and orders, “Now go beat the starters.”
“Just to see who can handle it,” Fangio said.
But Thursday is a big deal to Lock, his first televised step toward being the real, live QOTF.
“When I go out there I’m going to be a little fired up (to) show people what I can do. Definitely (want to) bring the juice that I brought through college,” Lock said Tuesday.
“You’ll still see the same me. I’m confident in what I can do. Whether I go in right at the beginning of the game, or I go in at the end of the game, I’m going to be the same guy. I’m going to prove to people that one day I should be starting these games.”
Time to see how he fails.
(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)