Coach Vic Fangio hopeful Drew Lock is Broncos' franchise quarterback

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With one game to go in what has been a frustrating season for the Denver Broncos, coach Vic Fangio said Monday the team is "looking" for Drew Lock to be the franchise's quarterback of the future.

The Broncos (6-9) have gone 3-1 in Lock's four starts, including Sunday's 27-17 victory over the Detroit Lions. Fangio was asked whether the rookie quarterback had shown enough to be considered "the guy" moving into the offseason and into the 2020 season.

"He's done enough to show he definitely could be the guy, and we're looking for that to be the case," Fangio said.

While it may not be the fire-on-the-mountain declaration that many of the team's faithful, several of Lock's teammates or even Lock would want to hear, it is far more than any Broncos coach has said about the team's quarterback situation to close out a season since Peyton Manning retired in the weeks following the Super Bowl 50 win to finish the 2015 season.

Since then the Broncos have said, over and over again, that they would wait to see what the offseason would bring, including two years' worth of training camp battles between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch in 2016 and 2017, Case Keenum signing as a free agent in March of 2018 and the trade for Joe Flacco last March. Flacco was placed on injured reserve after hurting his neck in Week 8.

"He's going out there and he's proving himself," running back Phillip Lindsay of Lock said after Sunday's win. "He's calm, cool and collected, and he understands what he needs to work on and what he's good at. The thing is, he can move out of the pocket and he's a game-changer. ... All I can say for Drew is, he's doing a hell of a job and he's going to only get better."

"There's just something about him," safety Justin Simmons said. "He has, and I hate saying the same word, he has that swag. He's a natural leader. Guys want to follow him, and he has that contagious spirit."

Many details are still to be worked out, such as Flacco's status, given that he has two years left on his contract, and the fact that Broncos president of football operations John Elway hasn't yet weighed in. (Elway has the final say on the franchise's football decisions.)

Lock is the seventh starting quarterback for the Broncos since Week 8 of the 2017 season. He returned to the roster from injured reserve Nov. 16 after missing the first 10 weeks of the season with a right thumb injury.

"I think the biggest jump he made, and I think I've said this before, was he really used that 10 weeks he was off to his advantage," Fangio said. "He learned more about the NFL, learned more about playing quarterback in the NFL, all the things that go into playing quarterback in the NFL, whereas I think in training camp he was a little bit inundated with everything. I think those 10 weeks were really beneficial to him."

Asked Monday what he wants to see from Lock in the season finale Sunday against the Raiders, Fangio said: "Just more good play, which he's done for the most part. But I think he's capable of more. Just being consistent. He's played good, but I think he can play better."

In his four starts, Lock is 83-of-128 passing (64.8 percent) for 843 yards to go with six touchdowns and three interceptions.