On Wednesday, the Denver Broncos officially named Teddy Bridgewater their starting quarterback. The move culminates the training camp competition between Drew Lock and Bridgewater.
What does this move tell us about the Broncos’ strategy this season in the AFC West? Bridgewater is typically thought of as a “safe” quarterback. He avoids turnovers and makes good decisions, but he’s ultimately limited when it comes to improvisation and playmaking. Lock, meanwhile, is a little reckless. He is a gunslinger with a little more firepower than Bridgewater, but ultimately has a penchant for poor—sometimes very poor—decision making.
The Broncos opting to go the “safe” route may tell us something about their goals for this coming season. Vic Fangio is entering his third season as the Broncos coach. He’s 12-20 combined in his first two years. Can his job security afford a sloppy 5-12 record, the kind we might see if Lock struggled as the starter, displaying the volatility he has shown so far? Maybe not.
Bridgewater, careful and steady, is surely competent enough to lead this talented Broncos team to eight or nine wins. With Bridgewater, you have a lower chance of the team bottoming out, but also probably a lower chance of a surprising season. Perhaps the Broncos are shooting for “okay—”respectable” in their rejection of the kind of high risk/reward that comes with Lock.
The Denver Broncos went the “safe” route with Teddy Bridgewater.
The choice to start Bridgewater means that the Broncos care about winning games, but not in the sense that they have playoff aspirations. Rather, they just want to get a few more Ws on the board, maybe hit a respectable nine wins. It would be short of the playoffs but a refresher from the two previous losing seasons, still a season in the shadow of the K.C. Chiefs.
Overall, I do find this news a little surprising, mainly when I remember how the Broncos drafted this year. The Broncos notably passed on the likes of Justin Fields and Mac Jones in the 2021 draft—both of whom have been quite good this preseason. I assumed that the Broncos not drafting Fields or Jones was a wringing endorsement for Lock, or at least an endorsement of Lock’s potential. If the Broncos believed it impossible for Lock to be QB of the future, they would have surely grabbed one of the excellent QBs that fell to them.
Yet they didn’t, which I assumed to mean they believed it possible for Lock to be the future of the team. Is it possible that they soured on that faith in the months after the draft to the present—through training camp? Maybe.
But I can’t help but see today’s news and wonder how exactly the Broncos felt about Drew Lock last draft. Because if they still believed in him, the decision not to draft a quarterback is at least plausible. If they didn’t, then the team might deserve criticism for not adequately addressing a position, the most important position, one which faces long-term uncertainty.