Michael Lavery looks at the progression of Broncos QB Drew Lock.
The 2019 Denver Broncos finished their season with an unusual sense of optimism for a team that had just finished 7-9. Usually, when a team finishes below .500 on the season they come under fire from the media and fans alike wondering if it’s time to hit the reset button. Is it time to tear the house down and build it back up again?
Well not in Denver. After taking over the reins with just five games left to play, Quarterback Drew Lock provided both hope and confidence for the future. Just 23 years old and hailing from Columbia, Missouri, Lock shot to Colorado stardom with his performances to close out the 2019 season. Finishing the season with a 4-1 record (the only loss coming to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs), the Broncos talisman turned heads all across the league.
The story of the 2019 season
Lock was drafted in the second round of the 2019 draft and entered camp competing with Joe Flacco for the top spot on the depth chart. But after suffering a thumb injury he was side lined until mid-November. On his NFL debut he led the Broncos to a 23-20 victory over division rivals, The Los Angeles Chargers. Following on from that, the Broncos secured a shock win over the Texans as Drew Lock became the first Rookie QB in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first road start. The Lock led Broncos suffered the first and only defeat of his tenure in a snowy arrowhead stadium against the Chiefs.
Offensive woes meant the Broncos could only chalk up three points and were officially eliminated from playoff contention with this loss. A rough one for Lock who threw the ball 40 times but only completed 18 passes.
A 27-17 victory over the Lions at Mile High saw the Broncos get back on track before finishing out the season with a closely fought 16-15 win over division opponents The Oakland Raiders for the last time before the silver and black relocate to Las Vegas for the beginning 2020 season.
In just five games, Drew Lock equalled the record for the most wins by a Broncos rookie in franchise history. Team legend and now General Manager John Elway held that title until this season but it took Elway ten games to achieve what Lock did in just five. Positive signs for Broncos fans who may have questions over Lock’s ability.
The numbers don’t lie either. Here is the final stat line for Drew Lock’s 2019 campaign:
For Lock to be putting up such good numbers in just a five game span, it should excite Broncos Country at the thought of what he could do in a full season. To have the backing of a Hall of Fame Quarterback as his general manger should take a lot of pressure off Lock and allow him to play more freely this year.
Free agency dangled the veteran carrot in front of Elway’s eyes and he chose to ignore it. There were calls for the Broncos to sign established players such as Andy Dalton or Cam Newton and allow Lock to sit behind them and develop, but Elway placed his trust in this Missouri youngster and is giving him his full backing. Something which was evident in the draft with the selections of Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in rounds one and two. (To read my 2020 draft recap, click here).
Speaking of the draft and the players brought in – one thing that will be crucial to the growth and development of Lock as a player is those around him. We saw last year the connection which was already established between Lock and Courtland Sutton as the pair connected for 22 catches and 2 TD’s in just five games. It may not be the most mind-blowing stat line but Lock targeted nobody more than Sutton over the final stretch of the season. With the addition of two rookie stalwarts at QB – and a former Missouri teammate of Locks in Tight End Albert Okweugbunam, it won’t be long before Broncos Country will start to see some real on field chemistry.
Under the direction of new Offensive Co-ordinator Pat Shurmur, Broncos fans can expect to see an aerial attack and a lot of downfield play. A style of play which will undoubtedly help Lock improve his confidence and become a more accurate thrower of the deep ball and unlock his potential as a true gunslinger.
The Road Ahead
Any sane Broncos fan will tell you that they have a bit of catching up to do to reach the levels of which the Chiefs have reached – but many optimistic fans will tell you they aren’t far off it, and I believe them! If Lock and this offense continue to improve and can prove they can consistently score a lot of points (They only managed 30+ in one game last season) and the defense plays as dominantly as its potential shows, the AFC West may not be such a sure thing for the Chiefs in years to come. The Broncos and their fans have cried out for a true franchise Quarterback since Peyton Manning left and this is the first time they’ve come close. It’s a lot of pressure, but I think Drew Lock is up to the challenge but more importantly so does John Elway, his staff and Lock’s fellow players. Oh and so does everybody here at Colorado Europe. We are ALL IN on the Drew Lock Experience.
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