Near the end of 2019, Drew Lock gave Broncos Country something they hadn’t seen since Peyton Manning arrived in Denver. Hope. Hope that the Broncos finally found their QB. Hope that this team could begin to build around a young player that would make them relevant for years to come. And why wouldn’t you be hopeful? Once the Broncos decided the “Average” Joe Flacco experiment was finished, Lock came in and won 4 out of 5 games, tossing 7 touchdowns, over 1,000 yards and completed 64% of his passes. Mile High City was almost ready to let down their guard and believe. They just wanted to see how he’d follow it up. Enter 2020.
I don’t need to rehash that terrible year of our lives but we all know it affected EVERYTHING including Drew Lock’s growth as an NFL quarterback. OTA’s, minicamps and simple get togethers between players to work on routes and such was a no no. Add in the fact that the Broncos were in the midst of making another change at offensive coordinator between Rich Scangarello and Pat Shurmur, it wasn’t exactly an ideal situation for a young QB trying to pick up where he left off.
2020 was a disaster for Lock. With only 16 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a completion percentage of 57%, it was safe to say the Missouri product failed to follow up an impressive 5 game sample a year ago. It was over. Denver would HAVE to find his replacement, right?
Shortly after the season ended, Denver introduced their new General Manager, George Paton. Would he come in guns-a-blazin and insist on making big changes? Would he take a methodical approach, and perhaps use 2021 as an assessment year? Afterall, a major ownership decision looms over the Broncos and Empower field like a dark cloud of uncertainty. If there ever was a year to take one’s time in a new role, this might be the one.
The first wave of Free Agency came and went with no new additions that would challenge Lock’s position as starting QB. Mitchell Trubisky, Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andy Dalton all found homes while guys like Mathew Stafford, Sam Darnold and Carson Wentz were all apart of some significant trades that did not involve Denver.
Finally, the Broncos made a splash at the position. Via trade with Carolina, Paton brought back his ole pal from Minnesota in Teddy Bridgewater which was a descent haul considering Denver gave up virtually nothing for him, handing over just a 6th round pick while the Panthers will pay $7 million of the $10 million owed. Competition for Lock? Absolutely. Instant replacement? Not quite. Bridgewater played in 15 games for the Panthers yet only managed to throw 15 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. That ratio was very similar to Lock’s. While his completion percentage was much better, Bridgewater was still, average. That’s his ceiling at this point in his career. Lock’s ceiling is much higher but he’s dug a very large whole.
As we progressed through the offseason, we learned that Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers wanted out of Houston and Green Bay. Many also believed Denver to be an approved destination by both. Broncos Country began to salivate. However, the Watson dream seemed to come to a screeching halt when over 20 women came forward with sexual assault allegations against him. Rumor has it the Texans are willing to trade him now, but I can’t imagine Denver would go anywhere near that at this point.
Rodgers and the Packers are working on a deal to keep him through 2021 at the very least so any immediate plans of seeing Mr. Jeopardy in Colorado should be put on hold. Not to say it couldn’t happen next year, but you better come to terms with the fact the “QB battle” is between one average qb and one hoping to be at least as much.
It’s crunch time for Drew Lock. Is he the ultimate survivor? Can he defeat every obstacle and rumor that was swirled his way in 2020 and the early part of 2021?
Training camp starts…..NOW.