Let’s pretend that Drew Lock is going to play against the Dolphins in Week 11. The Denver Broncos second year QB could be sidelined with rib injuries, but the fact remains, there is an important discussion being had in Broncos Country right now that is centered on Lock and his career.
On the MHR Radio Podcast, Ian St. Clair and I discussed our keys to the game, which are usually included in Ian’s preview post each week. This week, I am going to expand on my key to the game. This is what you will read in the game preview:
The key to the game is to stop worrying about wins and losses. Obviously, you play to win the game (Herm Edwards voice), but the Broncos are who we thought they were (Denny Green, RIP). They are one of the youngest teams in the NFL, ravaged by injury, and out of any real contention in 2020. You are playing for 2021. Force Lock to play through all the crap he has coming to him. Make him suffer. He either comes out the other side stronger, and ready to get better as a QB in the NFL, or he collapses under the pressure, and drifts away like all those terrible QBs that came before him. It doesn’t matter if they beat the Dolphins.
That first line might be the one that bothers the most people. I get it. Not worrying about wins and losses is the opposite of why we watch the game. All we care about is winning. That’s why they play. I don’t like it either, but this is about your sanity. It’s also about recognizing a reality.
The truth is, the Denver Broncos are going nowhere. You can talk about Lock being terrible (which makes Colin Cowherd right, which I really don’t want). You can throw around the idea of Pat Shurmur needing to go, or even Vic Fangio being on the chopping block. You can take this conversation all the way up John Elway, Joe Ellis, and the ownership issues. That’s fine, and all of that is fair game in the discussion of the Broncos future, but it won’t change the Broncos reality.
The reality is that without a QB, nothing else matters. That is the story of the NFL. Close your eyes. Imagine a Seahawks team without Russel Wilson. What’s their record? Worse than it is now. Take Kyler Murray away from the Cardinals. Yikes.
Now come back to Broncos Country. Open your eyes. Many of you probably see Drew Lock moving backwards, costing the team wins. I do too, but what I also see is the rest of the season, and a question. What should the rest of the 2020 season be about?
When writing the history of the Denver Broncos, when we get to 2020, what’s the theme? From this point forward, doesn’t it have to be discovering what Drew Lock really is? Maybe you’ve made up your mind. That’s fine. But don’t you want to be sure?
And what does trotting out Brett Rypien do for the team? Faster decisions? Maybe an extra win or two, and a worse draft pick? It won’t be the playoffs, and it won’t be competing with the likes of the Chiefs and the Raiders.
I tweeted out that I wasn’t ready to jump ship on Drew Lock during the Raiders game. Lock then promptly went out and played what I think could be classified as his worst game as QB in the NFL. Thanks Drew! But I’m still not ready to swim for it.
It’s not because I believe in Lock. I don’t know what I believe. It’s not because I think Pat Shurmur can turn things around. I have no clue what’s happening at Dove Valley.
No, it’s because I got not place else to go. So, Fangio needs to keep running the kid out there. Shurmur needs to get better at his job, and get Phillip Lindsey more involved, I guess. But mostly, I want to see what Drew Lock is made of.
Is he a rock, capable of getting hit over and over, and getting back up? Is he just hot air, blowing smoke, with no real substance? Can he learn from this? Can he grow from this? Or will he just drift away?
Reality is a tough place to live sometimes. Right now, the reality for the Broncos is that the QB of the future probably isn’t on the roster. However, changing things now won’t change that truth. And the QB of the future probably won’t be on the roster in 2021, unless Drew Lock can come out the other side of this ride through hell stronger, smarter, and better.
We won’t know unless he plays the rest of the way. It might be awful to watch, but it might also be exactly what we need.