Drew Lock Puts NFL on Notice: Broncos' Deep, Vertical Passing Attack Here to Stay

Chad Jensen

The Denver Broncos rolled into Gillette Stadium and immediately put Bill Belichick's defense on its heels by connecting deep on a 41-yard Drew Lock-to-Tim Patrick strike on the second play from scrimmage. That shot set the tone for what would be a very aggressive offensive game-plan for Denver, even though it didn't result in touchdowns.

It did, however, allow the Broncos to control the entire game, leading to six scoring drives, all of which were field goals by kicker Brandon McManus. Through the first three quarters of play, Lock was not only aggressive, he was accurate. 

Lock was dropping absolute dimes out there and despite his lackluster (upon first glance) box score stats from Week 6, he played very well and had at least three sure-fire touchdowns dropped by his receivers. And guess what? That aggressive philosophy being cultivated by Lock and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, which Broncos fans, and opponents, haven't really been able to see due to Lock's shoulder injury that caused him to miss 10 quarters of play, is here to stay. 

At least, that appears to have been the message Lock had coming out of the Broncos' massive 18-12 upset win over the Patriots. 

“We just felt like we could take those [deep shots]," Lock said post-game. "That’s the thing with our offense. That’s the reason we drafted the guys that we did. That’s the reason we kept the guys that we did, we feel like we can throw these shots, we feel like we can take these deep shots. Teams are going to have to be wary about that."

Lock seems to be putting the NFL on notice as if to say, 'We're going to test you deep and take our vertical shots. And if you play us soft upfront and roll with a two-deep safety shell, we'll pound the rock with Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon.'

I like that mentality. 

"I think it’s going to take two really, really good DBs on each side with good safety help to try to stop these guys from running by them," Lock said. "We’re that confident in our athletes that we have here in Denver. I’m excited to keep progressing in the offense, keep learning and keep figuring this thing out.”

Although Lock finished Week 6 with a stat-line of 10-of-24 passing for 189 yards and two interceptions, anyone who watched that game with an objective eye could see that a.) his receivers left points on the board and b.) he graded out better than what the box score revealed. 

That's how the league's leading advanced analytics site viewed Lock's performance. Here's what Pro Football Focus had to say about Lock's Week 6 game. 

It wasn’t all good for Lock, but a stat line of 10-for-24 for 189 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 34.9 does not tell the true story. Lock hit on a career-high five big-time throws, three of which fell incomplete. As we do every week, let's look at the stat line as though those three catchable passes were completed — it changes Lock’s stats to 13-for-24 for 258 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 85.1 (a 50.2-point jump).

Woulda, shoulda, coulda, right? I get it. But those drops weren't on Lock. Those passes, again, were absolute dimes. Lock connected on seven passes of 15-plus-yards and as the PFF metric shows, if three of those dropped dimes were caught, it would have been 10 such passes completed for an additional 70 yards and three touchdowns. 

What should be encouraging to Broncos Country is that the team still found a way to control the game, overcome a couple of ill-advised interceptions on Lock's part in the fourth quarter, and 'win ugly'. To win ugly against the Jets in Week 4 is one thing. To do it on the road against a quality opponent like New England vs. arguably the greatest defensive coach of the modern era is quite another. 

The Broncos are slowly but surely forging an identity, which is possible now that this team has its dynamic quarterback in the fold once again. The Broncos have a tough opponent this week in the Kansas City Chiefs at Empower Field at Mile High but all Lock and company can do is come out swinging with that same fire and energy they had in Week 6. 

At 2-3, the Broncos have dug themselves out of their initial hole and have climbed back into AFC relevancy. It's too soon to start making January plans, obviously, but the Broncos believe they can beat anyone. 

“I feel like the media might feel like there is a return to relevance, or people that aren’t in our building might think that, but we knew that we could be a really good team," Lock said. "We knew we could be a really good team; we just have to keep putting these pieces together and keep rolling. We are playing a really, really good team next week. It’s going to be a really good test for us to see who we are and see if we’re mentally and physically tough enough to come in there and try to get a win. I truly feel like we’re an extremely good team, we just have to put both sides of the ball together, all three actually; special teams, offense and defense.”

The Broncos played a complementary brand of football in Week 6. That's what good teams do. When the offense struggles or hits a bump in the road, the defense has to be able to step up and bridge the gap. Meanwhile, when the special teams are called upon to do their part, they have to be reliable and consistent, just like the Broncos were in Week 6. 

That's a formula for success — a blueprint — this team can build upon. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

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Comments (25)
No. 1-11
Denver_guy
Denver_guy

Yes, those aggressive interceptions really scared the league 😂😂😂

Mc Dad
Mc Dad

Dang that sounded awfully close to what mahomes said on monday. "If the corners are going to play off we can just pound the ball and whenever they press up we'll throw it."

Very ironic similarity considering they play this week

Little Phil
Little Phil

Other than Lock’s mostly-deft play action, what impressed me most was NOT finding a way to lose, with dwindling minutes of game on the line. And I totally agree with Chad, that the QB rating was held hostage by dropped “dimes.”

Rcsodak
Rcsodak

Interesting how shurmer didn't use the rb's to catch passes.
He's boring and uninventive, unlike the guys they're up against this weekend
It'll be another slaughter.

4 Replies

CoNative303
CoNative303

How many times did Denver punt? If you paid any attention over the past few years, you would know that Denver going 3 and out consistently had bored us all to a slow death. Seeing Denver sustain drives against the Patriots def was very entertaining, We seen the ball pushed down the field on 3rd and long and completed for 1st downs. Albert O. had 3 TD drops, the one on the opening drive was tough, but the ball was placed for him to make a play on and the other 2 just went through his hands. Yet you call this boring, because you didn't see a RB catch a pass?

Franklin Gray
Franklin Gray

Exactly, dumping off to RBs is my definition of boring football.

Lock2020
Lock2020

You guys are mad, I agree we should include them a bit in the running game, but like conative303 said, when was the last time we had actually been able to sustain drives?? All I ever last 3-4 years was going 3 and out every drive. This game was entertaining, despite failing to score a TD, which, obviously, were dropped dimes.

Rcsodak
Rcsodak

Lmao.
Lindsey, that you?

Unlike you I'm not an apologist for the OC.
How about those 6 fgs, huh!
O-for rz really is a great job of continuing the drives, huh!
Less than 5 mins left and 1st down is where MOST OC's run the clock...I guess your buddy sherm is simply smarter, huh!
Next time you try to slam, bring something more to the party other than kool-aid.

JTBronco
JTBronco

Well, I don't know about a slaughter because our defense finds ways to keep the score down. Hats off to them. But sadly, Denver will be beaten easily as our offensive play calling, especially if we have a lead and the games progresses into the fourth quarter is the most predictable in the league. When the fans sitting at home watching on television can call Denver's next play with some 80% accuracy, you know it's a problem.

toddx7
toddx7

One of the main problems in the NE game was the lackluster performance by Albert O in the red zone. Hopefully, Fant will come back to catch some TD passes and maybe Patrick can do the same.

Lock really needs to practice his throwing skills to get better on longer and medium range passes.

Dodgemydart
Dodgemydart

I'm convinced there is no draw play in the playbook. And the end-around is on the last page of the playbook. These plays have secondary purposes and should be used early in every game.

Dardarsh
Dardarsh

At NE, Denver's offense was 61% run/39% pass. On four of their possessions, Lock threw the ball into the EZ eight times. Two of those were PAP. Even though his completion was only 42%, his yards per attempt was almost 8 which means his completions were fairly long. Vertical passing attack is a good complement to a viable and committed rushing attack.

BuckinBronco
BuckinBronco

Lock has the arm for it. His deep accuracy wasn't good vs TEN but it was on point at NE.

Denverkewl
Denverkewl

Yeah Baby! Lock keeps throwing spot on deep throws over and over and the law of averages says our receivers will have to accidentally eventually inadvertently catch more...as some one once said: "I throw you catch its not complicated" If WRs were fined $100,000 per drop it'd git cleaned up in a hurry...

CharlieBeagle
CharlieBeagle

Keep throwing it Drew, they can't drop them all.


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