After Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday, Lock, third-stringer Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles, a veteran on the practice squad, were deemed high-risk close contacts and were required to undergo a five-day quarantine period. They reportedly had not worn masks during interactions with Driskel at the Broncos’ practice facility.
Asked Monday whether fines or suspensions were possible for his quarterbacks, Fangio said, “Everything’s on the table, but right now I would say it’s more the fine mode.”
“We’re going to consider all that and try to see what the league, if they have anything planned. If not, we’ll take our measures,” added the 62-year-old coach, in his second season with Denver.
Shortly after Sunday’s game ended, Fangio offered blunt words about his quarterbacks, telling reporters: “I was disappointed on a couple of levels — that our quarterbacks put us in this position, that our quarterbacks put the league in that position. We count on them to be the leaders of this team and leaders of the offense, and those guys made a mistake, and that is disappointing.
“Obviously, I haven’t done a good enough job of selling the protocols to them, when they’re on their own, so part of that falls on me there,” he continued. “We have emphasized it a lot, and we were really doing good with covid up to this point, relative to other teams, but there was a failing there.”
Before the game, Lock, 24, released a statement in which he described the protocol violation as an “honest mistake, but one I will own.”
“In a controlled and socially distanced area, we let our masking slip for an amount of time,” he wrote. “I sincerely apologize and I fully understand why these safety precautions are so important. Doing the right thing for a majority of time is not good enough.”
Fangio declared Monday he still has confidence in Lock, a 2019 second-round draft pick out of Missouri who took over as the Broncos’ starter last season, even though “we’re all disappointed that it happened.”
“I know Drew’s getting the bulk of [the criticism] because he’s the starter, but there was four of them in there,” he said, “and you’d like for one of them to take the lead and make sure that they’re spaced out far enough.
“But again, it’s just like with my kids,” Fangio continued. “My kids have done things that have disappointed me during their upbringings, but I still love them. And I still love Drew and all of the quarterbacks. They made a mistake that we’re ready to move past.”
According to Fangio, Lock, Rypien and Bortles tested negative Monday morning and, as long as they do so again Tuesday, they would be eligible to rejoin the team with no restrictions. Fangio also indicated that, despite what happened Sunday, the Broncos probably would not keep a quarterback away from the team to bring in under just such an emergency situation.
After Sunday’s loss, Fangio described what his team endured as “some extreme circumstances that have never been seen before.”
Hinton “did everything he could,” the coach said, given that the 23-year-old had approximately a three-hour window to prepare to start at quarterback. Hinton was eager for the opportunity, Fangio said then, “but that’s a big, big ask, and it just didn’t work out.”
Despite trailing most of the game, the Broncos ran 33 times and threw nine passes. Hinton, who joined the Broncos in the spring as an undrafted free agent, completed just one of those nine passes and tossed two interceptions.
“I can easily say this has been the most eventful 24 hours of my life, but when I got the call there was pure excitement,” Hinton said after the game. “Of course, there was nerves and disbelief, but the encouragement the team gave me, and guys just keeping me up the whole time, they made it a lot easier for me.”
He acknowledged that he “had no idea what the speed of the game was like,” and added: “I’m familiar with our concepts, but it’s a lot different from quarterbacks. So, coming in we knew it’d be a tough situation, for sure. That was a challenge that I wanted to take on.”
Hinton’s effort earned the admiration of at least a few members of the Saints, including Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan, who told the rookie via Twitter, “Helluva situation to be in. … No shade at all. … RESPECT breh.”
New Orleans linebacker Demario Davis agreed, tweeting of Hinton on Monday morning: “A lot of respect for this guy. He handled this situation like a real pro. I can only imagine the range of emotions and mental download he went through in 24 hrs.”