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