There’s no mania that fanbases are prone to quite like the mania brought on by a promising rookie quarterback. Broncos Country is no stranger to this mania, and honestly we might have it worse than most fanbases. Quarterback has been an unsettled issue for the Broncos since the day Peyton Manning retired, and we’ve seen fans get carried away on crusades for or against various quarterbacks again and again in the time since.
Hint: It’s going to happen this year too.
But if John Elway, Vic Fangio, & company are wise, they’ll turn a deaf ear to the nigh-inevitable clamor. And I’d say that we as fans would be well advised to do the same. Because in the end it’s not about what the fanbase wants, but about what’s best for the Broncos in 2019 and in future seasons.
The quality of play the Broncos get out of Joe Flacco should certainly be a notable factor in when or if a QB change happens this year, next year, or whenever. But really the driving factor has to be Drew Lock and his quality of play.
The Broncos made a critical mistake in the 2016 offseason by taking a raw 1st round QB but failing to secure a decent veteran bridge (Mark Sanchez? Really?!?). That was far from the only mistake the team made in regard to Paxton Lynch, beginning with drafting him in the first place, but the apparent lack of a viable alternative had fans clamoring for Lynch practically from day one. For many fans, it didn’t matter that he wasn’t ready. They’d anointed him as Manning’s successor and the calls for him to learn on the job started loud and only got louder the next season.
It’s important that the team doesn’t fall back into that trap this offseason/season, especially due to the presence of a viable QB in Joe Flacco. I’d argue that it’s also important that the fanbase avoids the same pitfall. That’s not an attempt to tell you who to pull for, just a plea for patience. Lock isn’t the same raw, lackadaisical project that Lynch was, but he has important work to do and some habits and issues that need ironing out.
And that’s really the gist of it: Paxton Lynch was the assumed franchise QB from the outset as a matter of when, not if. Lock isn’t and shouldn’t be. Flacco could turn in some decent to good seasons in orange & blue, so Lock can’t afford to assume he’ll be handed the job after a year. If he wants to be The Guy for the next ten to fifteen years, then he needs to step up and do the work he needs to do to prepare before he ever tries to rip the job out of Flacco’s hands. And rightly so, because Joe Flacco’s the starter right now. He’s doing what the starter should and focusing on winning first.
As coach Fangio said about a week ago, “That’s on Drew to soak in and learn. Joe’s learning a new system himself. As we move along there will be more interaction and they’ll get to know each other but primarily it’s on Drew to learn.”
So if you want it, Drew, then step up and take it. This job doesn’t come on a silver platter anymore.
For us fans, it’s a good situation. Flacco should provide better play than we’ve seen in several years, and the team should be set at QB for a couple of years regardless. The QB performance floor has risen, and now we get to see if Lock can raise the ceiling. But if he doesn’t? Fine. Back to the drawing board we’ll go.