Fangio: Drew Lock 'progressing the way we had hoped'

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Perhaps John Elway finally found that elusive heir to Peyton Manning.

Through the first two starts of his career, rookie Drew Lock looks like the real deal, throwing darts through defenses and making the Denver Broncos offense look as formidable as it has in years.

After this week's blowout victory in Houston, Lock became the first Broncos rookie QB since Elway in 1983 to win his first two career starts. Lock tossed lasers with regularity versus a defense that wasn't ready for the rookie's live arm. The second-round pick completed 22-of-27 passes for 309 yards, three touchdowns, one interception for a 136.0 passer rating, and chipped in three runs for 15 yards.

Lock became the first rookie QB with 300-plus pass yards and 3-plus pass TDs in his first career road start since 1950, per NFL Research.

"I do think he played much better yesterday than he did the week before," coach Vic Fangio said Monday, via the team's official website. "I thought his passing was more accurate and more crisp than it was the week before. He made some plays with his legs, which was good. I think overall he's had a good two-week start to his career."

Lock was fearless drilling passes into tight windows and making the correct reads to get wide open Broncos receivers galloping in open spaces. Like most rookies, he relied on his backs and tight ends heavily, and they all won for the young QB time after time.

If QBs are judged on third downs and red zone play, consider Lock's second start a great step. The Broncos converted 5-of-8 third downs on the game (63 percent) and went four of five in the red zone.

"He did a good job of seeing what they were in and where to go with the ball and made good throws," Fangio said. "That's what helped keep drives going. Third down is a big down in the NFL."

Lock became the fourth rookie QB in Broncos franchise history with 300-plus pass yards in a single game, joining Elway (1983), Marlin Briscoe (1968) and Tim Tebow (2010). Lock also joined Baker Mayfield (2018) and Matthew Stafford (2009) as the only rookie QBs with 230-plus pass yards and 3-plus pass TD in a first half in a single game since 1991.

Fangio, ever the defensive coach, mashed the brake pedal on the Lock hype train. Noting that two games does not make a career.

"It's two games," Fangio said. "Who's [looking] long-term right now? He's doing good. He's done well for two games. That's about all it is."

Asked where Lock can improve, Fangio noted the interception, which came while in field-goal range when the rookie got a little greedy and took a shot to the end zone but was late on the throw.

"Maybe be clean and not throw a pick this game," said Fangio said of the Week 15 matchup against the Kansas City Chief. "Really, he's just progressing the way we had hoped - better in Week 2 than he was in Week 1. I thought he felt comfortable out there. I think it was good that we got him his first start at home so when he got his first start on the road it wasn't his overall first start. We have to go play another really good team this week. He's going to have to deal with the hometown stuff that you guys and they will want to write about. I feel good [with] where he's at."

Lock has impressed in his first two starts after starting the season on IR with a hand injury. Now the rookie begins to face defenses that have some tape on him and can begin to diagnose his tendencies, starting with rival Kansas City. How Lock responds when the first reads and wide-open players are taken away will truly begin to show whether the Broncos have finally found their franchise QB.

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