Fangio Unwittingly Makes the Perfect Argument for Why Broncos Shouldn't Fear Playing QB Drew Lock
It has been an exercise in the espionage of psychology, trying to get a bead on the logic that is informing the Denver Broncos' handling of rookie quarterback Drew Lock. Speaking for myself, I know I've bent over backwards mentally, and gone behind the closed doors of the intellect, in an effort to divine the Broncos' rationale with regard to Lock.
But trying to rationalize the inexplicable, well, it's enough to make one feel crazy. At a certain point — and I think Broncos Country is close to reaching it — you have to throw your hands up and admit some things are beyond our ken and defy explanation.
We don't know how the Ancients built the Pyramids at Giza and we don't know why the Broncos have managed the Lock situation so bizarrely. But in one last-ditch effort of being that psycho-sleuth — in for a dime, in for a dollar — I couldn't help but zero in on something head coach Vic Fangio said earlier this week.
Our readers here at Mile High Huddle, as well as the great listeners of the Huddle Up Podcast, have heard me talk about how there's never a 'perfect time' to debut a young QB. The argument being that the Broncos could very well fully believe in Lock, and being perhaps still somewhat scarred emotionally from the Paxton Lynch first-round bust, are waiting for the most opportune time to debut their 2019 second-round QB.
The concern; the Broncos don't want to 'throw Lock to the wolves', ostensibly behind a less-than-stellar offensive line, and watch his confidence get ruined. In other words, they don't want to 'spoil', as it were, the potential Lock has by playing him too early and create a David Carr situation.
That being said, we've heard GM John Elway in years past say publicly that the best way for a young QB to develop is by playing (albeit before he became a front-office czar). Fangio himself echoed that sentiment about a month back, saying that the only way players develop is by actually seeing the field. By playing.
My argument has been that the Broncos can't wait until they draw the 0-10 Cincinnati Bengals or the 2-8 Miami Dolphins to debut Lock. That's not a recipe for success, treating a player at the most important position in American pro sports with kid gloves.
If Lock steps onto the field, and wilts under the crucible of NFL competition, whether it be now or in the future, it would only mean that he didn't have what it takes to cut it as a QB at this level.
And if indeed Lock is destined to wilt in the heat of NFL battle, wouldn't it behoove the Broncos to find that out sooner than later? Now, listen to what Fangio said on Wednesday.
“I don’t worry too much about him getting overwhelmed because—some people, well, he can get overwhelmed and then his career is scarred," Fangio said. "If a guy gets scarred from some bad performances, whether they’re all his fault or it’s the team’s fault, then he probably wasn’t the guy you wanted anyway.”
And there it is. Perhaps unwittingly, Fangio presented the very best argument for why the Broncos shouldn't fear playing Lock. I couldn't have said it any better myself.
Of course, the Broncos couldn't have allowed Lock to sit on injured reserve without practicing for two months and immediately thrown him out there. Without delving into the mystifying reason why the team placed him on IR to begin with, or why the team dragged its feet on activating him for the practice field as soon as NFL rules permitted (Week 7), I want to focus only on the timeline established from Lock beginning practice at the beginning of Week 11, after the bye.
The kid would need a couple of weeks, surely, of practice to shake off the rust of inactivity and get up to speed. He's now had two full weeks of practice wherein the Broncos have given him about half of the scout-team reps and about 25% (8-10) reps with the first-team offense.
By league rule, the Broncos only have one more week in which they can practice Lock without actually activating him to the 53-man roster. If the Broncos want him to be as theoretically prepared as possible before debuting him as a starter, they'll dispense with their cagey posturing and coming out of Week 12's tilt with the Buffalo Bills by anointing Lock the starter ahead of Week 13, and activate him officially on the Friday before the game.
That timeline would allow Lock's debut to unfold before the Mile High faithful and against a relatively mediocre opponent in the Los Angeles Chargers, before going on the road in consecutive weeks to face the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.
Will it shake out that way? I doubt it. I can't even say I'm certain the Broncos will activate a 100% healthy and champing-at-the-bit Lock at any point this year, even to be the backup.
After all, Fangio said publicly that he doesn't see Lock playing at any point this year as being "vitally important", before laying the perfect argument for why the Broncos shouldn't fear starting the clock officially on the Lock era in Denver.
If Lock wilts and caves to the vagaries of NFL competition, it only means he wasn't cut out to be a franchise quarterback anyway and the Broncos busted on yet another high-round signal-caller. The sooner the team could get such a determination on Lock, the better.
However, I, for one, am of the opinion that Drew Lock possesses multiple traits of a franchise thrower — of both the tangible and intangible qualities. He is no Paxton Lynch.
All Lock needs now is his opportunity. And if Brandon Allen fails to lead the Broncos to victory on Sunday in upstate New York, the Broncos might finally give it to him.