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What does it mean if the Broncos don’t play Drew Lock in 2019?

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Maybe very little. Maybe a whole lot.

Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos
Is Drew Lock the guy?
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Vic Fangio dropped a proverbial bomb today when asked if it was vitally important to get rookie quarterback Drew Lock playing time this season.

“I don’t think it’s vitally important. I can remember back in the strike year. Some of you weren’t born then (banter with reporters). Then another year—might not have been the strike year and a few years later. Anyway, we played a young quarterback in New Orleans for about three games and he did pretty damn good. Then [former NFL QB] Bobby Hebert held out the next year. He was part of that class action lawsuit that the players won free agency with, missed a whole season. We took the attitude, the franchise, that we got this guy to play pretty good for three games. [It] didn’t work out that way. I think with a young guy in limited reps it can be good. You can get a false positive. You can get a false negative. You need a whole body of work to—and that body of work includes offseason and training camp buildup. I’m not putting any limits on him if he does get in there, but I would be reluctant to make final conclusions.”

Alarm bells went off throughout Broncos Country about whether:

  • Drew Lock is another Paxton Lynch
  • Elway wasted another draft pick.
  • The coaching staff is mishandling the rookie.

In reality, it could mean very little. Brandon Allen is the Broncos starting quarterback against the Buffalo Bills. Vic Fangio could be showing a little faith in his young passer set to make his third start and preventing him from facing an entire week as to what his last start in 2019 could mean. Keep in mind that Allen had Denver one uncalled facemask away from upsetting the 8-3 Minnesota Vikings.

There could also be some degree of a plan to redshirt the 2019 second round pick at play here as well. I’ve mentioned a couple different times that I believed since April that he would need a season on the bench to refine his base and mechanics before having a real shot to reach his potential. With him on his second week back to practice since missing two months due to injury, that may now be the plan with Allen acting as the new bridge.

Lastly, there does remain some possibility that the Broncos have seen enough to believe Lock is not going to wind up as the answer under center. I would consider this a remote chance, but it does exist.

I did not believe Drew Lock would play before this week or even week 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers, so it’s hardly time to panic just yet. It’s completely fair to want to see the potential future in what looks like another lost year, but the coaching staff is already getting a look at what he can do behind the scenes and as Fangio alludes to in his answer today: five games vs four vs three vs zero isn’t necessarily going to prove he’s the guy going forward regardless.

The last thing the Broncos need is for him to get rushed into action too soon, and look hapless. Remember how the coaching staff showed patience with Alexander Johnson, sitting him for four games behind a recently signed free agent. Now keep in mind he was a linebacker who showed out in the preseason while Lock was a rookie who had a couple flashes mixed with gaffes before bowing out due to injury.

We’ll get some clarity on how the coaching staff and front office view the Missouri Tiger in the coming weeks and months. If he winds up back on injured reserve, I’d consider a 2020 passer all but locked in. If he doesn’t play a down, it’s definitely likely. Even if he comes in, it remains on the table.

So if Lock can’t really provide real clarity in the here and now, wouldn’t it make sense to do everything possible to keep playing the best players and build a little positive chemistry in a young locker room?

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