Why the Broncos shouldn’t bail out QB Drew Lock

Denver Broncos general manager John Elway was a franchise Hall of Fame quarterback, but during his executive career he struggled to find a long-term flagger in the post era. -Peyton Manning. Drew Lock is showing signs that he could be the solution, but he needs a little more time to prove it.

Elway should really give that edge of the doubt to the 24-year-old, who will be entering his third NFL season in 2021. For all the options that haven’t worked since Manning, Lock easily shows the most promising.

This all ties into the latest news from Denver, in which Elway commented on Lock’s struggles in 2020 after a promising rookie start that saw him post a 4-1 record as a starter.

“I think Drew has had a year of ups and downs but we still love what we see in him and still think he has a chance to be a really good quarterback in this league,” said Elway, on the team’s official website. .

Lock must have been on a roller coaster ride. After throwing 280 yards and four touchdowns in a Week 14 victory over Carolina, Lock crashed to Earth last weekend, handling just 132 passing yards in a 48-19 loss to Buffalo.

He has appeared in just 16 games so far in his NFL career, the equivalent of a full season, recording a 59.7% success rate, 21 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 79.8 passer rating. . Not great, right? That said, it would be a mistake for Elway to either swing an expensive trade to progress and acquire a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft, or pay too much for an expensive veteran with the potentially loaded Lock still on his prime. professional contract.

Elway even admitted in the aforementioned official team website report that the supporting cast around Lock had something to do with his issues:

“Obviously the inconsistency, that comes with being young, especially if you’re young and you have young guys around you… like we do. It seems that when they don’t all play well, they do it together.

The following stat from Pro Football Reference may be a cause for serious concern – until you look at the roster’s No.3 and 4 players, Tom Brady and Baker Mayfield, and consider that they are almost certain to be linked to the playoffs:

Denver is counting on rookie receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler to be the strongest offensive playmakers, with late second-year Noah Fant. That’s a lot to put on these inexperienced players, especially when Hamler missed the start of the season with injury and Fant was knocked out throughout the 2020 campaign.

With very little off-season time in terms of OTA, training camp and lack of preseason, the Broncos had to quickly update to a new West Coast system under new player Pat Shurmur. . Obviously, things didn’t work out – and that’s not even to mention the fact that typical No.1 wide receiver Courtland Sutton appeared in just one game before tearing up his ACL. Oh, and Lock injured his right rotator cuff and missed several starts because of it.

So, to recap: Sutton was Denver’s target of choice after a 1,122-yard season, and he was gone. Lock fell after a brutal blow to the formidable forward seven of the Pittsburgh Steelers – all while learning a new attack on the fly.

It wasn’t exactly an ideal situation. Additionally, Shurmur was just fired from her second NFL head coaching job with the New York Giants after seeing her attack fail there, just like she did in Cleveland. Look at Shurmur’s trainer file. Or at was his offense a wild success?

Here’s the thing: Shurmur poses a dilemma. His offense is obsolete by many accounts. He’s going to compose a few tactically savvy plays at times, but he’s extremely conservative and fails to make explosive plays with any consistency.

An attack on the West Coast isn’t really Lock’s strong suit. He’s a gunslinger with a rocket arm that can launch the ball to the back of the field. Given the extraordinary circumstances of 2020, the less complicated verbiage and overall thoroughness that Lock should have performed in Shurmur’s system, the better it would have been.

Another mitigating factor needs to be discussed, however: The Broncos’ offensive line ranks 29th in line yards adjusted by Football Outsiders. This is really bad. Despite having Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay in the backfield, Denver is stuffed with rushing attempts at a higher rate (21.8%) than any team in the NFL.

So, let’s not blame Shurmur entirely. There is a legitimate argument to be made in favor of continuity. It can help a young quarterback immensely, and given the old-school nature of Broncos coach Vic Fangio, to Denver fans who don’t like Shurmur: he’ll likely be back in 2021.

It might not be that bad. Anything Elway and Co. can do to strengthen the offensive line is a big step forward on its own. This will free up space for Gordon and Lindsay in the racing game. Sutton will return to lead the receiving corps. Fangio is always going to make the defense respectable when not decimated by injuries.

This all adds up to some rather promising prospects for Lock, who, despite all the chaos and explosive loss of the Bills, is moving in the right direction lately:

Everything discussed here reinforces the idea that he could thrive in the Shurmur system with an appropriate offseason to digest the playbook and enough time to build chemistry with newcomers Jeudy and Hamler.

Hope can be felt several feet away in Mile High City, but not despair, loyal Broncos. If the organization doesn’t leave Lock, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest he may be the breakout star many hoped he would be this year.


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