So any time the Broncos lose as badly as they did on Sunday, my analytical brain wants to know why. I heard lots of blame thrown around regarding the terrible offense but the three main themes were this
- Drew Lock’s limitations are now known and defenses are exploiting them (Lock is to blame)
- Pat Shurmur is not calling plays to help Drew Lock
- The offensive line can’t run block or pass block so Lock and Shurmur can’t do anything.
So where does the blame lie? At least partially to answer this, I went and watched all 50 of the Drew Lock’s dropbacks last Sunday to determine how often he was under pressure and when he was pressured who was to blame. This is similar to what I did after our loss to Pittsburgh.
Even with Calvin Anderson playing his first-ever NFL snaps, Drew Lock was only pressured on 11 of his 50 dropbacks. On those, he completed four passes, was sacked two times and threw two interceptions. On both interceptions Lock was pressured by an overload blitz. So when pressured, Lock was 4 of 9 for 38 yards with two picks. He did get roughed on one of those plays though (which was a 12-yard penalty).
Here is the table with every dropback chronologically listed. The final two columns show whether or not Lock was pressured and if so who was at fault (they also show my notes from when I watched the play in the All-22.)
|1||14:49||1||10||DEN 3||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right intended for Jerry Jeudy||0||no - designed rollout|
|1||14:22||3||6||DEN 7||Drew Lock pass complete short left to Royce Freeman for 1 yard (tackle by Jeff Heath)||1||no|
|1||9:39||1||10||DEN 26||Drew Lock pass complete short right to Noah Fant for 9 yards (tackle by Trayvon Mullen)||9||no|
|1||8:58||1||10||DEN 37||Drew Lock pass complete short right to Tim Patrick for 14 yards (tackle by Erik Harris)||14||no - designed rollout|
|1||8:33||1||10||RAI 49||Drew Lock pass complete deep middle to Jerry Jeudy for 17 yards (tackle by Nick Kwiatkoski)||17||no|
|1||8:02||1||10||RAI 32||Drew Lock pass incomplete deep left intended for Jerry Jeudy||0||no|
|1||7:23||3||10||RAI 32||Drew Lock pass incomplete deep left intended for DaeSean Hamilton||0||no - drifting back in pocket, "noisy feet"|
|1||5:05||2||7||DEN 10||Drew Lock pass complete short middle to Noah Fant for no gain (tackle by Johnathan Hankins)||0||no - screen pass - well played by LV|
|1||4:21||3||7||DEN 10||Drew Lock pass complete short middle to KJ Hamler for 11 yards (tackle by Lamarcus Joyner)||11||no|
|1||1:35||2||14||DEN 32||Drew Lock pass incomplete short middle intended for Tim Patrick||0||no - off target throw leads to incompletion|
|1||1:30||3||14||DEN 32||Drew Lock pass deep middle intended for KJ Hamler is intercepted by Jeff Heath at LV-37 and returned for 24 yards||0||no - INT. Throw to Hamler in triple coverage|
|2||13:22||3||1||DEN 11||Drew Lock sacked by Nicholas Morrow for -9 yards. Drew Lock fumbles (forced by Nicholas Morrow), recovered by Drew Lock at DEN-2||-9||yes - sack||Lock - needs to get this out quicker or audible to left run.|
|2||11:22||1||15||DEN 24||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right intended for Phillip Lindsay||0||no - bails on clean pocket||Patrick Jeudy and Hamler all came open|
|2||11:15||2||15||DEN 24||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right intended for KJ Hamler (defended by Lamarcus Joyner)||0||yes - hit||Lock - needs to audible to hot read here|
|2||11:11||3||15||DEN 24||Drew Lock pass complete deep right to Jerry Jeudy for 26 yards (tackle by Trayvon Mullen and Erik Harris)||26||no||not counting the late blitz|
|2||10:32||1||10||DEN 50||Drew Lock pass complete deep right to Tim Patrick for 27 yards (tackle by Trayvon Mullen)||27||no|
|2||9:53||1||10||RAI 23||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right intended for DaeSean Hamilton||0||no||feet lead to incompletion|
|2||9:04||3||3||RAI 16||Drew Lock pass complete short right to KJ Hamler for 1 yard (tackle by Lamarcus Joyner)||1||no|
|2||1:44||1||10||DEN 25||Drew Lock pass complete short right to Noah Fant for 9 yards (tackle by Nicholas Morrow)||9||no|
|2||1:22||2||1||DEN 34||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right intended for Melvin Gordon||0||no|
|2||1:14||1||10||DEN 36||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right||0||no||misses Jeudy wide open|
|2||1:07||2||10||DEN 36||Drew Lock pass complete deep middle to KJ Hamler for 27 yards (tackle by Lamarcus Joyner)||27||no|
|2||0:36||2||10||RAI 37||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right intended for Tim Patrick||0||not really - bails on clean pocket again|
|2||0:30||3||10||RAI 37||Drew Lock pass complete short left to Tim Patrick for 14 yards (tackle by Nicholas Morrow). Penalty on Clelin Ferrell: Roughing the Passer, 12 yards||14||yes - roughing on Ferrell||Risner and LC3 - failed to switch with Bolles on stunt|
|2||0:22||1||10||RAI 11||Drew Lock pass complete short middle to Tim Patrick for 6 yards (tackle by Nick Kwiatkoski)||6||no|
|2||0:12||2||9||RAI 10||Drew Lock pass short middle intended for Jerry Jeudy is intercepted by Jeff Heath at LV-0 and returned for 18 yards||0||no|
|3||8:36||2||13||DEN 23||Drew Lock pass incomplete short middle intended for KJ Hamler (defended by Nicholas Morrow)||0||no|
|3||8:31||3||13||DEN 23||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right intended for Jerry Jeudy||0||yes||bad throw on the run had JJ open no sideline|
|4||15:00||2||6||DEN 29||Drew Lock pass short middle intended for Noah Fant is intercepted by Carl Nassib at DEN-34 and returned for 23 yards||0||yes|
|4||13:22||1||10||DEN 25||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right intended for KJ Hamler||0||no - bails on clean pocket|
|4||13:14||2||10||DEN 25||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right||0||no - Lock needs to throw this||2 guys open deep|
|4||13:05||3||15||DEN 20||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right intended for Noah Fant||0||no - QB sees rusher all the way, gets ball away before pressure gets there||Fant doesn't turn around|
|4||10:13||1||10||DEN 7||Drew Lock pass complete short left to DaeSean Hamilton for 6 yards (tackle by Nevin Lawson). DaeSean Hamilton fumbles (forced by Nevin Lawson), recovered by Nevin Lawson at DEN-7||6||no|
|4||10:00||1||10||DEN 25||Drew Lock pass complete short right to DaeSean Hamilton for 7 yards (tackle by Trayvon Mullen)||7||yes||Anderson beaten by rip|
|4||9:29||2||3||DEN 32||Drew Lock pass complete short middle to KJ Hamler for 11 yards (tackle by Erik Harris)||11||no|
|4||8:39||1||10||RAI 31||Drew Lock pass incomplete short right intended for KJ Hamler (defended by Nevin Lawson)||0||no|
|4||8:36||2||10||RAI 31||Drew Lock pass incomplete short left intended for KJ Hamler (defended by Erik Harris)||0||yes - forced to step up to avoid rush||Anderson|
|4||8:30||3||10||RAI 31||Drew Lock pass complete short right to DaeSean Hamilton for 13 yards (tackle by Johnathan Abram)||13||yes||Anderson and Glasgow|
|4||7:59||1||10||RAI 18||Drew Lock pass complete short right to Troy Fumagalli for 8 yards (tackle by Trayvon Mullen)||8||no|
|4||7:37||2||2||RAI 10||Drew Lock pass complete short right to Troy Fumagalli for 4 yards (tackle by Nicholas Morrow)||4||yes||Anderson|
|4||7:02||1||6||RAI 6||Drew Lock pass incomplete short middle intended for Melvin Gordon||0||no||Gordon drop|
|4||6:58||2||6||RAI 6||Drew Lock pass incomplete short middle intended for Noah Fant (defended by Nick Kwiatkoski)||0||no|
|4||6:55||3||6||RAI 6||Drew Lock sacked by Maxx Crosby for -1 yards||-1||yes||Lock - held ball too long|
|4||6:15||4||7||RAI 7||Drew Lock pass complete short middle to DaeSean Hamilton for 7 yards, touchdown||7||no|
|4||6:10||0||RAI 2||Two Point Attempt: Drew Lock pass incomplete intended for Jerry Jeudy, conversion fails||0||no - designed rollout|
|4||1:33||2||1||DEN 34||Drew Lock pass complete short left to Jerry Jeudy for 9 yards (tackle by Lamarcus Joyner)||9||no|
|4||0:54||2||8||DEN 45||Drew Lock pass incomplete short middle intended for Noah Fant (defended by Nicholas Morrow)||0||no|
|4||0:51||3||8||DEN 45||Drew Lock pass complete short right to Royce Freeman for 14 yards (tackle by Trayvon Mullen)||14||no|
|4||0:31||1||10||RAI 41||Drew Lock pass complete short right to Jerry Jeudy for 16 yards (tackle by Johnathan Abram)||16||no|
|4||0:25||1||10||RAI 25||Drew Lock pass short middle intended for Troy Fumagalli is intercepted by Nick Kwiatkoski at LV-10 and returned for 9 yards||0||yes||weakside overload blitz|
So being pressured on 11 of 50 is actually less pressure than our QBs have been seeing in other games. For the season we have allowed pressure on 26.6 percent of dropbacks. The best team in the league, Indianapolis, is allowing pressure on 14.3 percent. The worst, New York Giants, is allowing pressure on 29.6 percent. Denver currently ranks 29th in pass protection.
So how did Drew Lock fare when he was not pressured? He completed 19 of 36 passes for 219 yards 1 TD and 2 INTs. A 53 percent completion rate when not pressured is very Tim Tebow. What led to this? A number of things.
Lock rarely, if ever, scrambles to his left. Opposing defensive coordinators are exploiting this by using a heavy dose of overload blitzes to the offensive right.
Let’s look at one case in particular. This was 3rd-and-1 from the Denver 11. The Broncos had just run the ball twice and gained nine yards (3 and 6) to set up 3rd-and-1. The Raiders have an overload look on the offensive right with nine in the box.
In theory this should be a great time to use play-action, but I would also argue that a run to the left (where our two best offensive linemen play) would be good here since we have an advantage in numbers on that side due to the defensive overload on the strong side. Of course that would mean that Lock would have to audible into a run. I don’t know that any of our current QBs are allowed or able to do that. I do know that Peyton Manning would have audibled to a run as shown below in a heartbeat.
Lock ends up getting sacked on this for one main reason - Jeremy Cox is supposed to chip on the LB, #50, on his way to his route. He completely sidesteps him and Lock is unable to find an absolutely wide open Tim Patrick over the middle or Cox in the flat who is also very open. I blame this on Lock, though. He has to know that the blitz is most likely coming from his right and he has to be ready with his hot-read - which would be Cox (or Patrick). The view below shows that Lock has time to dump this to Cox in the flat and may have had time to get it to Patrick over the middle if he slides to his left just a bit.
Notice that both defenders are ignoring Cox, #35, in the shot above. Why? Because the Broncos have yet to use either of our fullbacks as anything but blockers in the offense this season.
I also noted three separate instances where Lock bailed on a clean pocket. Those who wish to defend him might say that this is due to fear of getting hit, particularly since he was hurt on that roughing penalty on Clelin Ferrell. I would argue that if the QB is in so much pain that he is fleeing a stable pocket, he should not be playing.
Below is one example of Lock bailing on a clean pocket. This was on 1st-and-15 from DEN 24 in the first quarter. By rolling to his right, Lock misses three receivers who come open. Phillip Lindsay was well covered here (and Lock throws it behind him which leads to the incompletion).
You could also look at this as Lock missing the three open receivers because he almost never escapes the pocket to his left.
Below is the wide view of the same play after Lock has escaped the pocket to his right - notice the three blue arrows. I know that the deep middle throw to KJ Hamler is one that few QBs can make on the move, but Lock is one of the QBs with the arm strength to make that throw.
Of course the throw to Noah Fant coming across at the 30 yardline is also fairly open and much easier to make than the throw to Hamler or Lindsay (who is double covered).
Another reason for Lock’s poor performance is his continued tendency to fixate on his first read. Or to phrase it differently, to decide where he is going to throw the ball before the snap.
This can be a good thing if he is deciding this based upon reading the defense, but I’m certain that defensive coordinators are disguising things to lead him into making terrible decisions like shown below.
This is on the opening drive. It is 3rd-and-6 from the 7. Drew Lock looks to his left at the start of the play and never looks anywhere else. He completely misses Jerry Jeudy coming wide open on the rub route in the middle of the field. Lock was not pressured on this throw. In fact he was not pressured on any of his 11 throws in the first quarter. Hitting Jeudy on this play would have gained at least 20 yards. It also works have started the game with a third down conversion and not a three-and-out.
FWIW Lock dropped back to pass 26 times in the first half and was pressured on only three of those dropbacks.
So the question you have to ask yourself is: Do you expect your QB, in his 12th NFL start, to make the right decision here? The right decision would have been to NOT throw this to Freeman, who is not very open and who has the elusiveness of a pregnant sloth.
The theme of questionable decision making from Lock continued throughout the game.
This play was 1st-and-10 from Denver’s 36. Instead of throwing to a wide open Jeudy, Lock rolls to his right and then throws incomplete out of bounds to avoid a sack.
Notice that there is no pressure on Lock right now. He also has Hamler open deep down the right seam, but not as open as Jeudy. And yes, there is a safety 10 yards over the top of Jeudy, but I know Drew Lock can make this throw. EVERY NFL QB can make this throw, even the ones with noodle arms.
For those who argue that we should have just run more to protect our young QB, here is the problem with that argument. Our running game was only working because Melvin Gordon was breaking tackles. Lindsay was not. The Raiders were stacking the box and forcing Drew Lock to try and beat them with his arm. Opposing defenses will do this until he proves that he can. So far this year he has shown that he can’t.
This play below is an example of Lock having “happy feet”. He actually drifts left (not right) on this throw, but he never sets his feet and this leads to an incompletion. He is lucky that this throw is not intercepted as he throws to DaeSean Hamilton who is blanketed with a CB underneath and a safety over the top. This was 3rd-and-10 from the Raiders’ 32. Watch KJ Hamler, who lines up in the slot. This should have been defensive holding on the Raiders as the CB shoves Hamler down at the top of his break. This occurs right in front of the side judge.
If you want to blame a failed play on Shurmur, this would be the one. We have three receivers running routes here - which means we leave seven players in to block for Lock. Hamilton is running a corner route past the sticks, but the other two receivers both would need YAC to gain a first down if they caught the ball. Hamler getting knocked over means that his defender can fall off and cover Fant so the Raiders have both of our upright receivers doubled.
Lock makes the right decision here, trying to throw to Hamilton. On the next play he makes the wrong decision. This is 2nd-and-6 from Denver’s 29, and the Raiders are showing an overload blitz on the left this time.
I never played QB, but as a former center, I can tell you with certainty that the QB HAS to know that this most likely means an overload blitz from his left. He also has to know where his outlet receivers are (i.e. where are the guys running the quick routes).
The Raiders have seven guys who could rush the passer, but four of them are to the left of Dalton Risner - meaning that we only have three blockers (one of whom is Lindsay) to potentially block four rushers. Lloyd Cushenberry can’t be expected to help too much since he has to be aware of of the two-technique over Graham Glasgow. The Raiders do bring more than we can block on the left and Lindsay runs a route instead of staying in to block (see below). We end up with an unblocked LB in Lock’s face pretty quickly.
Lock can see Lindsay and Fant right in front of him, but Lindsay has not turned yet so it would take a really good touch throw to drop it into him over the line. Fant is heading toward open space, but Lock’s throw is off-target and is easily picked off by Carl Nassib.
What’s maddening about this is that Tim Patrick is lined up wide and runs a one-yard stop route where he literally is standing at the LOS. There is no defender within 10 yards of him for the entire play as he is given a very generous cushion.
In this screenshot from the wide angle, Lock is not under pressure yet (the free defender is still at the LOS), but Lock never glances at Patrick. Missing a wide open receiver and then making a off-target throw to a covered receiver that is then intercepted is just the epitome of bad QB play. Yes, he was under pressure, but the QB has to expect pressure on this play and KNOW where to go with the ball if pressure comes.
This final screen grab from that play shows that there were at least three better options to throw to on this play - Patrick (discussed above); Jeudy, who is single covered on the go down the left sideline; and Lindsay who has a little room on the dump-off over the middle.
I know he was only making his 12th start, but these are mistakes that he was not making last year, or if he was, he was getting away with them then. I am not expecting him to find the open receiver on every play - few QBs, if any, can do that - but I am getting really tired of him missing multiple open receivers on the SAME play.
Here’s a play where Lock bails on a clean pocket and scrambles to his right (SHOCKER). Since I didn’t make a GIF of this one, you will have to take my word for it. He was not pressured but felt “ghost pressure” and scrambled right. In scrambling right he really limited the options of where he could throw.
I know it’s not easy to do, but if Lock plants and throws this back to Gordon (red circle), Gordon literally has half the field to work with and no defenders there. Lock ends up throwing this to Hamler, who is double covered at that point because the Raider defense has six defenders in coverage on this half of the field. I understand that Lock can’t be expected to make the right play every time. But what I don’t understand is why he didn’t throw this to Hamilton in the flat at this point (in the screenshot above).
Sure, that only gains four or five yards, but this is a first down throw. Those short completions are what keep you out of 3rd and long. This was also early in the game when it had not become a blowout yet.
Here’s another example of Lock failing to see multiple open guys. This was on the following play of the one above. It’s the 2nd quarter and the Broncos are down 7-3. It’s 2nd and 10. Shurmur calls a play that gets three guys open. Drew Lock chooses not to throw here and instead rolls to his right (from a clean pocket) eventually flipping the ball forward and out of bounds to avoid a sack. It’s painful to watch him NOT throw this to Fant (top circle) or Jeudy (go route on left sideline) - both of whom are very open.
While those two throws would not have been super easy, they also would not have been so difficult that Lock can’t make them. Drew’s arm is strong enough to get the ball to Fant or Jeudy on this play if he chose to do so.
So before you start flaming me for asking Lock to play at an average NFL level in his 12th start, let’s look at how other QBs in the league have fared so far this year when they are pressured.
According to Elias Sports via ESPN, here are Lock’s stats when blitzed vs when not blitzed. When blitzed he is completing 38.2 percent of his passes and he has thrown one TD and six INTs. He has a passer rating of 33.1 against the blitz. When not blitzed he is completing 60.2 percent of his passes and has thrown 6 TDs and 4 INTs. He has a passer rating of 81.2 when not being blitzing. If you were a defensive coordinator, you would blitz Lock on every play until he proves he can burn you if you do so.
Let’s compare Lock to a few other QBs - many who are struggling this year like he is.
Notice anything? Lock has been terrible when blitzed this year, but many of these guys have not been. So you should expect opposing defenses to keep blitzing Lock until he stops them from doing so.
In case you are wondering, elite QBs tend to dismantle your defense if you blitz them. Patrick Mahomes has a passer rating of 141.7 when blitzed this year. Josh Allen - 116.1. Aaron Rodgers - 103.9.
So I don’t want you to come away from this with no hope that Drew Lock can turn into at least an average NFL QB. There is a precedent for a QB playing as poorly as Lock has in his first 12 starts and still turning into a good to great NFL starter.
Two guys whose names you might recognize from recent NFL history, Andrew Luck and Kirk Cousins, have fairly similar stats to Drew Lock through their first 12 starts. Joe Rowles is gonna do a whole piece on this, so I won’t steal his thunder.