Let’s take a hop in the way back machine for just a minute. It’s April 22nd, 2020. For the first time since World War II, the British Open is cancelled. The Undertaker defeats A.J. Styles in WrestleMania XXXVI. We’re still talking about The Tiger King. The United States has only just begun what now feels like an endless war with Covid-19.
The NFL keeps on spinning. Jerry Jeudy falls to 15th overall in the NFL Draft and the Broncos quickly become a buzzworthy team again. Drew Lock is a promising star with Courtland Sutton and the perfect complimentary pieces around him in Jeudy and K.J. Hamler to light the world on fire.
I'd take Courtland Sutton over Keenan Allen. pic.twitter.com/8NiVHKQwfJ— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) July 27, 2020
The dream crashes and burns when Sutton’s knee fails him on Heinz Field. The loss creates a vacuum. Sutton earned 128 targets across three quarterbacks for a reason. He’s a true alpha receiver who can beat you over the top or win bully ball in tough situations. Fast enough and big enough to wreck brackets and embarrass All Pro corners.
Life goes on in a next man up league. Tim Patrick steps into the X-receiver role while the rookies adjust to schemes that do not center around their best player. The first three games without both Sutton and Drew Lock is the kind of masochistic affair only the most devout of Broncos’ Country finds enjoyment in.
“There are glimpses, I swear!” They cry into the darkness.
Jerry Jeudy with his first NFL touchdown! pic.twitter.com/1hZULDYajT— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 2, 2020
Lock’s first game back is a nightmare for Jerry Jeudy. Forced into a corner, Pat Shurmur finally gives Phillip Lindsay carries. The Broncos’ second year quarterback leans on the familiar Patrick to help him beat up on Bill Belichick’s replacement defense. Broncos’ Country is worried about Jerry Jeudy.
He’s lost in the carnage against Kansas City. Two catches on four targets as the Broncos bleed orange and blue into the snowy grass at Mile High. Boo birds rise from the battle, their cries raining down on Shelby Harris as the Fangio defense battles Justin Herbert. For the better part of three quarters, all is lost as they lose points under the weight of the burden. Time to burn it all down. Whoever wins the Bowlen family battle needs to clean house. Fans are done with John Elway and he knows it.
If the Broncos put Rypien in, it's over. https://t.co/zX1o8XSV3P— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 1, 2020
Jerry Jeudy catches a pass for 43 yards and the switch is flipped. Lock finds Albert Okwuegbunam for a touchdown. DaeSean Hamilton makes a meme out of Chargers safeties. A quarterback making his 11th start finds his rookie receiver in the corner of the end zone. K.J. Hamler has a game-winning touchdown. Battered and bruised, the 2020 Broncos celebrate their second win with Drew Lock at the helm.
There’s some sort of error in the Matrix. An eighth game anomaly or some sort of déjà vu. Fangio’s defense craters without three of his four best corners. The offense moves in spurts and starts with all of three points to show for it. Demar Dotson leaves the game and the bumbling protection scheme melts into putty at the first sign of heat. 20-3.
Halftime prepares Jeudy to fumble a ball out of bounds. Shurmur is unbothered and continues to dial up easy completions for his young offense. Jeudy rewards him by drawing a 22-yard Defensive Pass Interference call. The Broncos run the ball three times in six plays and Brandon McManus is money in the bank. 20-6.
Three plays later and the Broncos’ offense is back on the field thanks to a gift from Justin Simmons. Lock’s first snap is a disputed sack fumble and leads to a quick three and out. Matt Ryan capitalizes when Julio Jones punks Michael Ojemudia for a 21-yard touchdown.
Do or die, Albert O fights his way for the final first down of his rookie season. Lock makes the most of it with an intentional grounding penalty and the Broncos face a long third down Noah Fant catches a pass for two. Somehow Fangio finds a way to cauterize the wounds. 27-6.
All eyes on Lock as he throws past Lindsay on first down. Shurmur gives the Broncos’ star back a carry on second and forever, which allows his raw offense another third and long to simmer in. Jeudy cooks A.J. Terrell on a curl to convert the sticks. He’s just getting started.
Still not worried about Jerry Jeudy. pic.twitter.com/xtUGFaLh13— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 8, 2020
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