Drew Lock is entering his second year in the NFL and first full season as the incumbent starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos. He ended his rookie season with such momentum, everyone was looking forward to him building on that heading into 2020.
Then the pandemic hit. And what momentum Lock had built up seemingly came screeching to a halt.
With a new offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmur and a new playbook to assimilate, the shutdown caused by the pandemic has complicated what Lock had planned to be a very active offseason. Lock quickly got with Peyton Manning to bend the five-time NFL MVP's ear on the best ways to attack the offseason.
Loaded with that information, Lock was just about ready to get things going when the pandemic hit back in March. However, after a brief period of quarantine at his parents' home in Lee's Summit, MO, Lock returned to the Mile High City in May and like Batman throwing up the bat signal in the Gotham night, the young QB put out a beacon of his own fashioning, calling out to his teammates both new and old to assemble.
Lock led many unofficial workout sessions away from the Broncos facility in and around Denver this summer. They weren't just conditioning workouts or throwing sessions; Lock operated Shurmur's entire playbook.
Now finally allowed back into the UC Health Training Center to open camp, Lock is grateful to be back on official football business and relishes the opportunity to play the game he loves in 2020.
On Friday, the Broncos made Lock available to media via a virtual Zoom presser, and despite some local scribes offering up opportunities for Lock to beg off, and get out to an early start in making excuses for the upcoming season, he wasn't having it. Lock's mantra for 2020? No excuses, in so many words.
“I think everyone gets 24 hours in a day," Lock said on Friday. "We’re all allowed the same amount of time in our facility. We all have professional coaches that have been in this game for a long time. We all get to learn and be with them the same amount of time. It’s an even playing ground. It’s just going to be what we do with the time that we get together."
The Broncos are young, especially on the offensive side, but they're also hungry, out looking to make a name for themselves as individuals and as a team.
"Yes, we are young, but when you’re young, you’re pretty hungry right as you get in here," Lock said. "Maybe we could be at an advantage being young and having a lot of motivation whereas guys who have been in for a long time—I know they’re still hungry because they want to be super good, but maybe they’ll take a little off—‘We know stick. I’m not going to write my notes on stick.’ We’re writing notes on everything right now."
There's no way to make up for the entire on-field portion of the Offseason Training Program being nixed by the pandemic. However, that's an obstacle all 32 NFL teams are going to have to find a way to overcome.
For Lock, it's about capitalizing on the here and now and making the most of the time he and his teammates have now that they're together.
"The real factor of it is that, yes, we didn’t get enough time with each other," Lock said. "We’re going to have a shortened period of time where we’re going to have to pick up a lot of things extremely quickly. It might not be the prettiest at first, but our job is to make the mistake, learn from it and try not to make that mistake more than once because we really don’t have time to keep making the same mistakes."
GM John Elway admitted early this week that he's had to temper his expectations for Lock and company thanks to COVID-19. Lock, however, has not altered his ultimate objectives for Year 2 in the NFL.
"I’m still expecting the same things from us this year because we’re going to put in the extra work to be able to make up for that time lost,” Lock said.
It's a commendable mindset. Only time will tell how realistic it will be as a pursuit. You've got to assume that while the pandemic affected all NFL teams equally by way of the facility shutdowns, those teams who either had a new offensive coordinator and/or a new/young quarterback are going to be inordinately affected.
Then again, Cam Newton didn't get an offseason after the Carolina Panthers made him the No. 1 overall draft pick back in 2011 due to the lockout. I don't recall him making excuses either, and yet, he went on to produce some prolific numbers as a rookie, setting multiple records along the way.
If Lock is who the Broncos think he is and if Coach Shurmur is the same, it's plausible that they can find a way to overcome what has been one of the most unique offseasons in NFL history.