ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the aftermath of Drew Lock’s first career start, his phone buzzed with a text from Archie Manning.
The father of former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning offered his congratulations to the rookie quarterback, who won his debut against the Chargers.
“’You can’t win them all if you don’t win your first,’” Lock remembered the text saying. “That gave me a good giggle and a good laugh. He’s so right.”
Lock, who became close with the family at the Manning Passing Academy in 2018 ahead of his senior season, also received a text from Peyton.
“Being able to hear from those guys meant a lot,” Lock said.
Since joining the Broncos, the relationship has only grown between Lock and the Manning family.
On Sunday against the Texans, Lock could earn another congratulatory text — and a place in Broncos history.
Lock became just the sixth Broncos quarterback to win his starting debut as a rookie with a win over Los Angeles, and he could join a more-exclusive club this weekend.
John Elway, Craig Penrose and Marlin Briscoe are the only Broncos quarterbacks to win their first two starts as rookies. The streak ends there, though. Elway lost his third game, and Penrose didn’t start another game until 1978. Briscoe’s starts, meanwhile, were not in consecutive weeks.
As he aims to tie Elway and Penrose, Lock will face a Texans defense that ranks 28th in passing defense and interceptions, 26th in sacks, 31st in red-zone percentage and 32nd in third-down percentage.
Those rankings suggest Lock could improve upon his debut in which he finished 18-of-28 for 134 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Head Coach Vic Fangio agreed.
“Just some better throws in some situations, a little bit more accuracy,” said Fangio of areas in which he wants to see Lock make progress. “Just general improvement all the way across the board. Obviously, the one thing that everybody noticed is the throws. I thought he missed a couple the other day, but that’s to be expected. Hopefully he misses less this game.”
Lock has already learned a lesson that could help him Sunday in his first road game.
“Going back to the pick, just learning not to force anything,” Lock said. “In college, I might have been able to get away with a couple decisions like that, but these guys are quicker, these guys are faster and these guys are smarter. I’m not going to be able to get away with things as much as I did in college. Where being able to take the things that they give me 24/7, that’ll just help us move down the field better. [It's a] you-can’t-go-broke-if-you’re-taking-a-profit-type deal, so take what they give you. Being able to realize the little decisions throughout the game can really affect the big picture of the game, that was one of the big takeaways.”
Lock noted the game slowed down for him even between his first and second drive. On that first drive, he missed a deep throw to Courtland Sutton and completed a pass short of the first-down marker as the team went three-and-out.
“People were buzzing around my head, I was pretty antsy and excited to go,” Lock said. “The heartbeat was pounding for sure, but once I went out there for my second drive, it was way more relaxed and I felt super confident about it.”
Lock responded on his second and third drives by twice finding Courtland Sutton in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
Neither Lock nor Fangio said the playbook was simplified for the rookie in his first start. Instead, the team aimed to put Lock in a position to succeed by choosing what to implement.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say last week was simple, but we definitely tried to keep a clear head for me — make some of our plays and what we’re checking to, this and that, a little easier,” Lock said. “I might get a little bit more this week, but regardless of what their plan is, I’m super excited. I looked over the plan last night and went over it this morning. I think it’s an awesome plan that we have going into this game.”
Fangio said any changes to the plays the Broncos run against the Texans will have more to do with the Broncos’ game plan rather than Lock.
Lock, though, said he feels more comfortable talking to the offensive coaching staff about the plays he likes and what he thinks he can execute.
“I feel like I can definitely talk a little bit more, but as far as what we talked about yesterday, it was, ‘Let’s prep the exact same way that we did last week,’” Lock said. “You put in just enough time, let’s maybe put in even a little bit more this week. Not change your schedule, not change when you go to bed, not change when you eat, just keep it the same and we’ll try to ride this thing out. I think as the weeks go on, I could probably put more input in, but as Week 2 as a starter, I’ll still probably defer to them.”
Craig Penrose Jersey Retro
If Lock can replicate the result, he’ll join Elway and Penrose in an exclusive club.
And as Archie Manning may say, “You can’t win them all if you don’t win your first two.”
Correction: Marlin Briscoe also won his first two starts as a rookie. Briscoe, however, appeared in five games between his two starts. The Broncos lost the next game in which Briscoe appeared.