Drew Lock Should Earn Unquestioned 2020 Starting Job with Statement Win over Texans

Zack Kelberman

On the first play of the second quarter Sunday against the Texans, a third-and-9 from Denver’s 21, Drew Lock drifted … drifted … drifted backward and, off his back foot, uncorked a 37-yard completion to wide receiver Tim Patrick down the left sideline.

It was an absolute dime that hit Patrick in stride despite air-tight coverage. It was a throw only Lock and a few other NFL quarterbacks could dream of making, as it required not only elite arm strength but anticipatory precision.

It was but a brief glimpse of Lock’s potential as a pro. But that one throw set not only the tone in the Broncos’ 38-24 upset, but the table for the next decade with No. 3 under center.

"Incredible. That guy’s a f**cking rock star,” Von Miller said of the second-round rookie gunslinger after the game.

What wasn’t immediately clear following Denver’s Week 13 victory over the Chargers, his debut, crystallized in the Space City: Lock is the QB1, now and later, this year and the next.

Denver, you don’t have a problem. Not anymore.

Suffering through the likes of Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum and Joe Flacco was worth it. Three-year-long labor finally gave way to fruit, which tastes even sweeter considering the previous tribulation.

This goes beyond Lock’s 309 passing yards, three touchdowns and sparkling 136.0 QB rating. Beyond his innate ability to change ball angles and escape from pressure. Beyond a singular win in another playoff-less Broncos campaign.

It should ensure Lock remains right where he is: atop the depth chart, leading the offense with the type of can’t-teach charisma noticeably absent in Dove Valley since Peyton Manning hung up his Hall of Fame cleats.

“I’d like to think my confidence is contagious,” Lock told reporters after his second career start. “Don’t want it to come off as arrogance. Just wanna have fun playing the game we all love”.

Confidence is contagious, and the entire organization is afflicted.

The Broncos simply are a different team with the Missouri product on the field. Unlike with Flacco, the Broncos are now playing with passion, intensity and, most importantly, not to lose. They go for the kill shot, using Lock’s big arm to their advantage. They stay aggressive, failing to rest on a big lead. There aren’t shells to crawl into nor conservative modes to enter.

There’s only one way Lock knows how to ball—loose and care-free, like a kid in a schoolyard—and the Broncos mirrored that style.

Is it a coincidence that Denver’s lesser skill-position players, many of whom (including Devontae Booker, DaeSean Hamilton and Jeff Heuerman) have been invisible this season, suddenly became contributors?

Is it a coincidence that embattled offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello called by far his best game in his rookie tenure, given the QB who ideally fits his vision?

The answer to both is an emphatic “no.” And that’s because Lock’s providing more answers than questions at the most important spot in all of sports.

What happens next for the Broncos with Drew Lock? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Take a second and sign up for our free newsletter and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!

Which brings us to the future, a word strongly associated with the No. 42 overall draft pick. He’s far from a finished product, but Lock has done enough to justify the club’s investment and its subsequent patience as he mended a preseason thumb injury.

General manager John Elway needs to take it a step further and anoint Lock the starter for 2020. Rally around the guy you were supposedly “smitten” by, the player single-handedly putting Broncos football back on the map, the hope they’ve so desperately sought, wasting millions of dollars and sinking fan morale in the process.

It should be straight-forward:

No open competitions.

No veteran “mentors” nipping at his heels or a rookie hovering over his shoulder.

No hemming and hawing and splitting reps.

No indecision.

Go get a left (or right) tackle. Sign or draft a burner wide receiver. Shore up depth at tight end. Make Lock as comfortable as possible, on and off the gridiron. 

Nurture his confidence, guarding it like gold. Ignore the temptation to bring aboard the Justin Herberts of the world while freeing yourself of the Flaccos.

“To Infinity and Beyond!” isn’t merely a cute nickname for Lock and his trusty wristband. It, too, must demonstrate the support the Broncos show in the 23-year-old, whose ceiling is just as high.

They’ve found their Buzz Lightyear, a hero capable of rescuing what’s been a rudderless operation.

And such as Lightyear is in the movies, Lock has earned the right to become the Broncos’ leading star—unquestioned and understood.

Follow Zack on Twitter @KelbermanNFL and @MileHighHuddle.

Comments (10)
No. 1-6
Lance Sanderson
Lance Sanderson

Good to have you back, Zack. Excellent piece brother.


I felt after the game that we found our future starter as well, but anointing him next year’s starting QB with 3 games left this year? I doubt if Elway or Fangio are thinking like that. I imagine they are going to carefully watch the KC game and then the next game etc. If Lock continues with positive performances, Elway and Fangio will likely infer Lock is the starter next year though I doubt they will be forthcoming until the 2020 draft is over.

Broncos fan 1984
Broncos fan 1984

Glad Lock did well!! But still not sold in him!! Go back to the Brock day's. Team's couldn't stop him, in the first half, of his 6 game's he started. And he did absolutely nothing in the second half of any of those game's, except 1!!! Let's fast forward till now. Lock is looking GREAT, in the first half of both these last 2 game's. And nothing impressive at all, in the second half. What does that tell you? The team's are figuring him out, at halftime. Just like they did Brock. I guess, only time will tell. But until he can dominate all 4 quarters. I won't be sold on this kid. Sorry to my fellow Bronco fan's. But we've seen this before, since 2016.


More depth at TE? Really? How many do they need....6? Shore up the Oline. Shore up the Dline Shore up Cb Shore up Lb. Get a field stretching wr

TE is the last thing they need


I really agree with this sentiment and I know you have said you just want to see progress each game. But heck, how do you top that? I don't think he will be named til the end of the season. With each game, DCs get more film and game plans more direct. Further, perhaps KC will give him a chance to also do a comeback if they leave us in the dust. But, more importantly, IF he can now be consistent for the closing 3 games then we have a winner. What if he gets rattled and throws 3 or 4 pics? Who knows when the "bad" game will happen, but it will. Plus I think there is value in having him earn the starter job by performance. Makes a statement to him and the team...it ain't given to you, you have to want it. Elway will show through his actions what they plan: Do they trade or cut Flacco or have to wait til June? Do the FA hires/trades reflect building around him. That said I expect some dancing on drafting a QB just to create value for the first pic and hide their hand...any or all that doesn't mean we have to freak out about decision making. He makes progress and it will be clear - he is our Mahomes.


he definitely has the tools & attitude....................but when the films hit...........then we will see if he has the smarts.........if he declines each of these next 3 games....which i expect..................he won't be ready to start next year...........may have to find a veteran for him to learn from or go with flacco........................remember.........there are lots of films on flacco................