Broncos' Coaches Have to Trust Drew Lock Enough to Take the Training Wheels Off
In order for the Denver Broncos to rebuild themselves into a contender, they have to hit on a quarterback that can take them back to the Promised Land. Jumping too quickly on the 'Drew Lock is a savior' bandwagon may well hinder, rather than help, the young QB's overall development in the red-hot NFL spotlight.
Therein lies the multi-layered balancing act for the organization. First and foremost, it’s important to organically let Lock grow, which means being patient in allowing him to take his lumps and keep getting back up off the deck.
Head coach Vic Fangio is well renowned in league circles for his honest and down to earth approach to handing out compliments, and he isn’t likely to put the cart before the horse when it comes to Lock.
“I’m just not ready to put him in Canton yet,” said Fangio following Lock's 23-20 win over the Chargers. “I think it was a great start for him. Something that we can build upon because obviously we didn’t light up the scoreboard or have a ton of yards and first downs.”
So far this season, even a basic level of offensive production has eluded Fangio and OC Rich Scangarello, ultimately dooming the Broncos' chances this season. Lock passed the initial eye test against the Chargers, but it now falls on how much Fangio trusts his QB to open up the playbook, bearing in mind the coming killer road trips to Houston and Kansas City, which loom large on the schedule.
What is very clear is that the next two challenges will likely provide the most important information on what the Broncos actually have in Lock. What the youngster has shown above and beyond his first win is an ability to self-assess his mistakes, while not curbing his natural confidence, as seen when he talked about his maiden interception.
“It was a little bit of a high-low read on that guy," Lock said regarding Chargers LB Denzel Perryman's interception. "He ended up backing up a little more than I thought he would and being a little arrogant at times, I tried to fit it in there and he ended up getting the better of me there.”
All great signal-callers have what Lock possesses; self-assurance that even the QB himself admits to being arrogance at times. What has been telling, even after only one game, is that Scangarello at least trusts his rookie enough to allow him to audible certain plays, like on Courtland Sutton’s spectacular scoring grab in the first quarter.
And as for the last gasp, game-defining deep roll of the dice that drew the pass interference penalty with nine seconds left? Lock had a good feel for the game as it was in full tilt and uncorked a deep ball in hopes of exploiting a situation.
“We singled Courtland up by himself," Lock explained. "They gave us a look where I had a chance to get it to him, and when we put it up, it was kind of like an onion sandwich with a layer on it and it worked out and they got the pass interference.”
Passing for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, while netting just 11 additional yards through the air and throwing an interception in the second half exposed the coaching staff's reluctance to take the training wheels off Lock as the game vs. the Chargers wore on. Fangio and Scangarello have to trust in Lock the way they did in the first quarter and good things are likely to come.
For significant progress to be made in the new Lock era, having the trust and support of the coaches will be fundamental to success. Letting Lock express himself naturally might well be the key to bringing the fans back after 19,000 no shows at Empower Field at Mile High this past Sunday.
Heck, the Broncos might even start selling the Lock special onion sandwiches on gamedays from now on.