Don’t panic: Why training camp interceptions are good for Drew Lock

(Photo by Dougal Brownlie/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dougal Brownlie/Getty Images) /

Don’t panic over early interceptions in camp from Broncos QB Drew Lock.

Quarterbacks throw interceptions, and at times coaches want to see it. Fans should not only be okay with Drew Lock’s early training camp picks, but excited.

Interceptions can be a nail in the coffin for a team on any given Sunday. The Denver Broncos are relying on Drew Lock to minimize his mistakes and keep the team on schedule. But, throwing interceptions in training camp may be exactly what Vic Fangio wants to see from Drew Lock.

Coaching the quarterback position for years, I would stress the importance of pushing the envelope in practice. Stressing that envelope would push my guys to throw into tight windows until that window closed.

I wanted to see what our quarterbacks could get away with. Seeing the videos of Drew Lock throwing early camp interceptions not only doesn’t bother me, but I am also excited to see it.

How can interceptions in camp help Drew Lock?

With no preseason action or joint scrimmages, Drew Lock is relegated to 7-on-7 periods and team drills in camp to gain comfortability with guys like Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, Nick Vannett, and Melvin Gordon.

Additionally, there is now a reduction in the film for Vic Fangio and Pat Shurmer to evaluate the offense.

Vic Fangio commented that this has been the first time he was able to truly evaluate his team with only a month before the Denver Broncos kick off their season against the Tennesse Titans on Monday night September 14th.

"“I consider it to be the first day of training camp because this was the first time we were practicing football as a whole team. The previous week or so we’ve been divided up. It’s been more offseason-type rules. Today was the first real type practice that you would expect to see in a training camp albeit without pads, but it was a good practice. I thought we got a lot accomplished. I liked the urgency and the focus of the players as we move through this shortened training camp. I thought it was a very good day.”Vic Fangio (quotes via Broncos PR)"

That urgency can be seen in Drew Lock’s desire to test the defense and his abilities, resulting in some fantastic plays made by the offense, and outstanding plays by the defense.

Vic Fangio and Pat Shurmur want Lock to play without fear while learning from his mistakes.

In his small sample size last year, Lock showed the ability to minimize secondary mistakes which resulted in a solid 7/3 TD: INT ratio.

To increase his ability to create big plays and also improve his decision making, Lock must continue to see where the risk is in each route combination.

The Denver Broncos and their fans have seen enough of “Check Down Charlie” at quarterback over the past five seasons and Pat Shurmur was brought here to bring a more aggressive style of offense.

You can’t expect aggression and chance-taking to equal no mistakes.

Like John Elway and Brett Favre before him, Lock will have to test windows to make big plays quarterbacks like Trevor Simion, Case Keenum, and Joe Flacco failed to make in years past.

When the regular season rolls around, Lock needs to have an understanding of what he can get away with as this offense will not be built to sustain costly turnovers as they get used to one another. So, Fangio and Shurmur want Lock to “get them out of his system now”.

To bridge the gap between the uncomfortable connections he has right now to a dialed-in connection with his receivers Lock must do a few things in training camp.

Ways Drew Lock can use training camp miscues to improve.

First, return to the rep. This means after the team makes a mistake resulting in an interception, sack, or other negative outcomes, Lock should get the offense back together to run it again. After seeing the play breakdown it is important to see if there was an opportunity to make the play somewhere else.

Interceptions usually occur because the quarterback predetermined his receiver and stared down his target. Lock has a history of doing so, as many young quarterbacks do.

Going back to the rep provides Lock with an opportunity to end the rep with a positive outcome in memory.

Second, Lock needs to immediately review the practice tape. Film from Training Camp increases in importance without any preseason tape.

Drew Lock and Pat Shurmur can review the decision making used on each play, the point the ball comes out, and the outcome to determine if the play will be viable when it counts in the regular season.

The timing of the review is important because it connects the physical response with the continued adrenaline from practice to the mental processes when it is fresh. This can help Lock remember what it felt like to be in the moment, and thus increasing the likelihood he can make the right decision next time.

Lastly, use recall to verbally process with his coaches right after the play about why he made the decision. “Thinking out loud” is a great way to help others understand why a decision is made. This process helps two or more people get on the same page.

Since each person experiences the same event differently, it is key to understand how each person got there to make a more inlined decision the next time you are presented with a similar scenario.

In the end, Denver Broncos fans, don’t be too worried about training camp errors and reports of interceptions. Word out of Kansas City in 2019 training camp as Patrick Mahomes was a turnover machine, and how has that turned out for the AFC West rival?

Drew Lock needs to know what he can do both psychically and mentally, and will never know the boundaries of his game if he doesn’t test the outer limits.

Next. Standouts from day 1 of Broncos Camp. dark

So, with all that in mind, training camp interceptions are not only a good thing, fans should look forward to a training camp littered with them.