ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It should probably go on a T-shirt, or on one of those snappy signs teams like to put over the doorway to the weight room, but it's pretty simple for Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock: Ball security is job security.
As Lock prepares for his third season in the league, that slogan should be his plan if he wants to remain the Broncos' starting quarterback.
"The one thing we have to do for sure is we can't turn the ball over," said president of football operations John Elway. "You know that's one of the most important things in this league because it's so evenly matched."
The problem? The Broncos turned the ball over more than any other team overall (32 times), threw more interceptions (23) and had the worst turnover margin (minus-16) during a 5-11 season. Opponents scored 100 points off those turnovers.
Lock tied for the league lead in interceptions with 15 and a look at each of those interceptions reveals a profile.
All 15 interceptions came on plays Lock began in the shotgun
Fourteen of the interceptions came when the Broncos were in a three-wide set
Thirteen came on throws Lock made from the pocket -- only two were when he was on the move
Twelve of the interceptions were thrown into spots where the defense had safety help
Eleven came when the Broncos trailed in the game
As one opposing defensive coach pointed out in recent weeks, Lock is far more likely to go into "fadeaway" mode when in the shotgun. His footwork was much better from snap to throw under center, especially when the Broncos used play-action, even though Lock rarely played under center at Missouri. Multiple defensive coaches said they felt Lock often passed over 1-on-1 matchups, pushing the ball downfield to receivers who had multiple defenders.
"Yes, footwork would be huge," Lock said of his offseason plan. "... I feel like my footwork towards the end of the year kept getting better and I was just more familiar with the plays. I knew what I needed and how I needed to step -- where my problems were, if I needed to get it out quick when I was going to end up taking the drop instead."
Lock threw all 15 of his interceptions during a 10-game span from Oct. 18 to Dec. 27. During a six-game span when he returned from a shoulder injury Oct. 18 until he missed a game against the New Orleans Saints for violating COVID-19 protocols Lock threw 11 interceptions.
Lock said his four-interception day against the Raiders in November was his personal turning point. During his final six starts of the season after that, he threw five interceptions, but two were Hail Mary heaves in the closing seconds. Lock's only two games with a passer rating of more than 100 came during the final six games as did four of his seven games when he completed at least 60% of his passes.
"I think after the Raiders game ... [it] was a big look in the mirror type of thing for me," Lock said. "I needed to take care of the ball and at that point everything just started being clear. I knew where to get to with the ball, it was just getting familiar with this offense and certain looks we got for certain plays."