Drew Lock Weighs in on Jerry Jeudy's Two Costly Drops in Season-Opener
For months, Denver Broncos fans pined to get a look at first-round wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in action. With training camp closed to fans this year and the preseason completely canceled, fans had an inordinate wait, but the hope was, the Broncos' Week 1 matchup with the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football would be worth it.
What no one in Broncos Country saw coming was that just days prior to the season-opener, No. 1 wideout Courtland Sutton went down with a freak shoulder injury that would keep him out of Week 1's action. Suddenly, Jeudy went from being the rookie complement to a bonafide Pro Bowl receiver to being top-dog on the depth chart.
Perhaps it had an effect on the rookie. Jeudy's Broncos debut wasn't perfect, but wasn't all bad either. His two costly drops — one on a third-down play and one in the clutch — really set the Broncos back.
Coming out of Week 1's 16-14 loss to the Titans, fans are left to wonder if Jeudy perhaps just got stuck in his own head with the added pressure of debuting as a pro without Sutton, or if his hands are going to be an issue that persists. As for the man delivering Jeudy the ball — second-year QB Drew Lock — his confidence in his new, young teammate hasn't waivered.
“The thing is—that’s not a Jerry Jeudy thing to happen, and he’ll say the same thing. Those were unacceptable to him," Lock said on Wednesday. "To me, it’s nothing that we should really take our time on more than how we’ve already addressed it."
No one took the drops harder than Jeudy, in all likelihood, though his Wednesday press conference was more dismissive of the faux pas than anything. Jeudy's relationship and accountability are with Lock and his teammates and coaches. And the rookie did address the drops.
"He apologized. He was upset and hurt," Lock said. "It’s like missing layups in basketball. You miss a couple and it’s not going to happen again. You don’t go address a guy about missing layups. It’s not a thing you do and that’s not a thing that we will overly address with Jerry."
The more you focus on it and worry at it, the more it can persist, kind of like a blemish on one's face. The best medicine is a quick broaching of the subject, and a resolution on the part of the player to not let it become a trend. Then, move on.
"Yeah, he had some drops, but let’s go out here next week and keep getting better," Lock said. "That’s not Jerry Jeudy, and that’s not a Jerry Jeudy thing to do.”
For his part, Jeudy's tone on Wednesday was a tad sharp and he was definitely short in his remarks. However, when ESPN's Jeff Legwold asked Jeudy about his Twitter post that read "Failure is growth", he took on a more reflective tone.
“Like I said, those critical drops, one on third down and one that could have changed the momentum of the game—I felt like I failed my team on those two plays," Jeudy said in reply to Legwold's question. "Me learning from that, just going out here and practicing and really focus on catching the ball and focus on the little details of catching the ball is really going to help me. Those two drops will probably help me on not dropping passes for the whole season.”
No wide receiver is perfect in the drops department. And for a rookie with first-round expectations magnified by an NFL debut in front of a nationally-televised audience, a few nerves are to be expected.
Jeudy still finished with four receptions on eight targets for 56 yards, with a long of 25 yards. Had he hauled in those two drops, one of which had the potential to go the distance, we could be talking about a six-catch night upwards of 80-100 yards receiving.
He ended up playing 44 snaps and was on the field for 75 percent of the Broncos' offensive snaps. The Broncos gave their first-round wideout a lot of rope and it's unfortunate that it didn't turn out ideally.
But, Jeudy is no stranger to the limelight or big moments. As a National Champion with the Alabama Crimson tide, the two-time First-Team All-SEC wideout has proven he can not only handle pressure-filled moments, but excel.
Fans shouldn't worry too much about Jeudy. Give him some time to settle into his new football environs and settle down, and that elite talent that fans witnessed at times on Monday night will come to the surface regularly. If Jeudy has the support of his quarterback, you can believe that all of his teammates in that locker room have his back.
Once Sutton returns to the field, which could be this week vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers or it could be next, the Broncos' offense will start to look much closer to the vision GM John Elway had in mind when he made the Jeudy draft pick this past spring. In tandem, Sutton and Jeudy have the chance to be one of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in the NFL with a young gunslinger that's willing to feed them targets.
Combined with the formidable receiving talents of tight end Noah Fant, and the potent one-two punch of running back duo Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay, the Broncos still have a great chance to establish themselves as one of the best young offenses in the league. They just need a reprieve from the vagaries of the injury bug.