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Broncos quarterback Drew Lock needs his actions to speak louder than his words

The Denver Broncos will continue to be a migraine-inducing, temple-rubbing affair until quarterback Drew Lock's actions speak as loudly as his words.

Sunday's 19-16, final-minute loss to the Los Angeles Chargers showed guts, plenty of character and a dash of defensive wizardry with so many starters not in uniform for the visiting Broncos. But in the big picture, it was the latest exhibit in a growing list of exhibits that show Lock might understand his problems but he doesn't know how to fix them.

Lock said this past week he thinks he is "the guy" moving forward, and his work in the fourth quarter Sunday was evidence in his favor, but he can't be "the guy" until he stops turning the ball over.

Sunday was the 11th consecutive start in which Lock has had a turnover. He finished with two, but his second pick was on a Hail Mary throw at the end of the game. His first interception, though, was a sidearm toss into traffic. It's exactly the kind of throw the second-year player has said -- over and over again -- he has to quit making.

As he put it four days ago: "Being able to extend drives with my feet and make some throws that the average person couldn't make. Sometimes when I try to make those throws, my timing in the moment to try to make that throw wouldn't be the best. They kind of coexist."

They do coexist and that is -- still -- the problem. Lock has been given the like-what-we-see vote of confidence from Broncos general manager John Elway and coach Vic Fangio, but the words "needs more consistency" usually follow closely.

Lock's first quarter interception was a bad decision, one that likely left a touchdown on the table in what became a grind-it-out three-point loss, rolling out without his feet squared up to throw with a sidearm delivery. The ball was tipped, then intercepted.

What happened in the just over three quarters of football that followed Sunday were some additional bright spots for Lock, to go with far too many dropped balls by his receivers, particularly Jerry Jeudy, and a run game stifled by the scoreboard.

Quarterbacks who go on to carve out a career with playoff games in it eventually have to make plays on the move with the game on the line. But Lock continues to try to eat the dessert before he has cooked the meal.

And if the Broncos (5-10) bring in more competition for Lock or Lock eventually plays his way out of the job, he'll need only to look at the turnovers to see why.

Two words: Bad. Opening.

A week after the Buffalo Bills opened the floodgates on a close game with a 53-yard kickoff return to open the second half, the Broncos allowed a 53-yard kickoff return to the Chargers' Nasir Adderley to open the game.

The Broncos have enough injuries, issues and problems without gift-wrapping field position. They followed that with a holding penalty on the first kickoff return of their own.

Troubling trend: Jeudy is fiery and talented, and was the best wide receiver on the 2020 NFL draft board. He's also battling himself at the moment. His five drops Sunday, including one in the final minute, is a cause for concern, especially given one of those was a potential touchdown.

Jeudy has been targeted plenty this season -- 13 more than any other Broncos player heading into Sunday's game -- and he was the leader in targets again against the Chargers. But he hasn't turned those targets into the kind of production that was expected -- and production he could have easily had if he and Lock could find even a bit more consistency together.

Jeudy will be a high-impact player for the Broncos, but his rookie ride has been a bumpy one.

Biggest hole in game plan: The early turnover and a 13-0 deficit at halftime put the Broncos, who spent much of the second half in comeback mode, in a position to put the running game on the back burner once again.

Melvin Gordon, who has been one of the most consistent players in the offense for more than a month, hasn't had more than 16 carries in a game since Oct. 25. The Broncos' ability to throw the ball, especially down the field, has been enhanced this season whenever play-action is an option.