Psst...hey Broncos Country...want to know a secret?
The Broncos are good, and Drew Lock has insane talent that could easily translate into a long, successful NFL career.
But, shhhh...there are haters out there. So let’s keep it between you, me and Lock.
Oh, and the “Quarterback Whisperer” who told us.
“My thing is,” says Tim Jenkins, former NFL quarterback “until I got fired” and current CEO and founder of Jenkins Elite, a football player development academy in four states. “Flat out, I just think the Broncos are good. I would be in the camp of ‘give [Lock] another year. Let him run. And if we suck at the end of 2021, I was wrong, and we need to move on officially.’ But I think he’s putting some really good stuff on tape.”
OK, so Jenkins doesn’t really claim to be a quarterback whisperer, but he was given the title in a 9News story, so as he points out, “why wouldn’t I use that in my bio?”
Jenkins spent most of his growing up years in Colorado and wound up playing quarterback for the Fort Lewis College Skyhawks. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams in 2013 but was cut before the regular season started. Then he played a year in the Canadian Football League and “learned how nice Canadians are.”
But the past five weeks Jenkins has learned how brutal Broncos fans are when it comes to their quarterbacks and how easily social media will eviscerate someone deemed a “hater” as well as an “apologist.”
Jenkins claims to be neither. He’s just trying to evaluate quarterbacks based on his expertise of developing and preparing them to hopefully get NFL-ready.
“I’ve recently learned the term ‘hot take’ and I’m just like, ‘dude, I’m just watching film and telling you the play call. That’s not a hot take,” he tells Jess, Tim and I on our latest podcast.
To Jenkins, the effects from this covid season - no OTAs, no preseason, rushed training camp - should not be discounted when considering the development of a young quarterback.
It’s already hard enough for the top quarterbacks who come in and are expected to lead a team from Day 1 but have so much catching up to do for a pro-style system.
“That’s why we have so many busts in the NFL at the QB position,” Jenkins says. “No one really runs anything close enough to what the NFL is going to want from you.”
Throw in an offseason of virtual meetings only, and Jenkins understands why Lock and other guys struggle.
“I would say the Zoom calls for OTAs were probably as good as they have been for Zoom preschool,” Jenkins said, speaking from veteran experience. “I mean, my four-year-old just runs around the basement and shoots hoop.”
But seriously, it’s not that a lot of study and discussion can’t be done, but the lack of physically running through plays is a huge detriment for guys getting it down.
“They get the whiteboard aspect of it, and the film aspect of it, and the ‘here was us running it; here was the team I came from running it’ aspect,” Jenkins said. “What you don’t get is the then, “ok, let’s go on the field and execute it and then film ourselves and coach off the tape’. A majority of these kids are physical kids and the learning style is probably ‘I need to do it.’”
In fact, Jenkins highlights Peyton Manning to help make his point about the importance of repetition. Manning would take his receivers to Duke every summer and run through plays over and over and over until he was satisfied with the timing and execution.
And we all know how much Manning liked things timed just right.
“Young quarterbacks these days want to throw everything. They want to throw the whole route tree,” Jenkins said. “Peyton would go and spend eight hours throwing the slant to Demaryius Thomas until DT was flat enough for him. And then he’d say, ‘OK, let’s work on the out-route’ or something.”
So with Lock - and any young QB in his first two to three years in the NFL - Jenkins preaches patience. The kid has some skills. And one of them is seemingly the ability to improve.
The “quarterback whisperer” definitely believes young signal callers can learn what he refers to as “eye manipulation,” which is basically the ability to look off the safety and not just stare down his receiver.
To the former quarterback, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a lot of college quarterbacks don’t do that right away - because they really haven’t needed to in their systems.
“It’s tough when evaluating the college game because the college defenses are just so simple. If they show Cover 2, they’re probably going to run it,” he said. “Whereas in the NFL...last week in the Carolina game, they were press-man and got to ‘Tampa 2,’ and I’m like, ‘how in the heck are you supposed to see that?’”
#BroncosCountry this is your friendly reminder that QB growth isn’t a direct line.— Tim Jenkins (@TJenkinsElite) December 17, 2020
Make sure you don’t jump to conclusions this weekend good or bad.
Always look at the tape, the tv copy is deceiving at times.
Also, if you missed it this weeks breakdown: https://t.co/Wo4sqk4y3l pic.twitter.com/gEKg0xQv1Z
But Lock is starting to see those, and Jenkins believes that is what he has noticed as the biggest improvement over the last five weeks.
“From a talent perspective, that’s the last thing we need to worry about from him. I mean, the kid makes some throws that are insanely special,” Jenkins said. “We just need to get him in the right spot and him knowing it is.”
In Jenkins’ latest breakdown on YouTube of Lock’s game, he notes that there is “a lot of good and a lot of high-quality football being played.”
And that has him feeling good about No. 3.
Bottom line, “Drew Lock is on a good progression,” he says, adding that if the Broncos had a few better breaks this season and were sitting in a better W-L position, a lot of fans wouldn’t be freaking out.
“Let’s be honest, if next year Drew Lock is throwing the way he is now, and everyone’s healthy and the Broncos are going to be in the Wild Card [game], no one’s saying anything.”
But another part of Jenkins’ formula of success for the Broncos and Lock is keeping offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Like him or not, continuity for the quarterback is key - especially given the challenges already this season in learning the playbook and developing a relationship with the new coordinator.
“I think getting rid of Shurmur - if you’re going to keep Lock and invest in Lock - would be a horrendous idea,” Jenkins said. “Yeah, I think you’ve got to give him another year.”
Jenkins also sees that some of the improvement in the offense over the past few weeks has been just the natural progression of the quarterback getting comfortable with the offense and developing chemistry with players and coaches, which allows Shurmur to unleash more of his playbook.
“Even last week I saw plays I hadn’t ever seen us run before and it wasn’t because the defense hadn’t given us those looks,” Jenkins said, noting that “the coverages aren’t new,” but now the Broncos have plays that can go with those defensive looks.
Obviously for Lock and the Broncos’ offense this week the task will be much harder as the Bills’ defense is strong, and its quarterback is rolling. Lock will be expected to help the offense keep pace with Josh Allen, former Wyoming QB now in his third year in the NFL.
.@Bills QB Josh Allen has made big strides in his 3rd NFL season:— Mike Tannenbaum (@RealTannenbaum) December 17, 2020
- higher completion percentage than Patrick Mahomes
- more yards/game than Tom Brady
- more TDs than Deshaun Watson
- less INTs than Russell Wilson
- higher QBR than Lamar Jackson
- has the 6th most completions
In his first season, Allen completed just 52.8 percent of his passes and had just 10 touchdown passes to his 12 interceptions. Last year his completion rate improved and he turned around the TD-to-INT ratio to 20:9.
So far this year, Allen has hit 68.6 percent of his passes for 3,641 yards, 28 passing touchdowns plus six rushing touchdowns and only nine interceptions, giving him a 103.3 quarterback rating.
While some analysts have painted Allen as the “anomaly” for dramatic improvement this season, Jenkins believes that kind of leap is more the norm. The anomalies are the Peyton Mannings, Patrick Mahomes...and any QB who makes a giant leap already in year one or two.
“Josh Allen is not the anomaly. That’s the normal trajectory,” he said. “We see certain guys - Peyton Manning, Drew Brees - and we say, ‘oh rookies can do it.’”
Very few rookies can do that, but that shouldn’t write them off, Jenkins says.
Ultimately, his test for how well a quarterback can do in the NFL - assuming he already has the natural talent - is whether he loves football or just loves the attention of being the quarterback. The guys who love football - Manning, Mahomes, Rodgers, Brady, Brees - will spend their time studying the game so they can learn how to pick up a coverage, throwing the ball 1,000 times to the same route and multiple receivers to get the timing down and practicing looking off the safety.
“If you find people who love football,” Jenkins says, “your team is going to be way better.”
For fun at the end of our podcast, I asked Jenkins to rattle off a couple of play calls that he had to learn when he went to the NFL to see how well we could memorize and call back just one play.
It did not go well.
.@TJenkinsElite teaching us to call NFL plays:— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) December 18, 2020
TJ: "Twins right, F-counter, scat right, F-ship"
Me: "Twins right, F-counter, scat....f-ship???"
TJ: scat RIGHT!!!@jezru: "And ... the ball has been intercepted!"
So much fun w/ the "QB Whisperer!"
docllv’s pick of the day
Colorado's quarterback whisperer turns out state's top talent | 9news.com
Tim Jenkins is the founder and CEO of Jenkins Elite, a quarterback and wide receiver development dynasty, that has turned out some of the top high school talent in all of Colorado.
Josh Allen has thrived due to patience and continuity. Could Drew Lock be next?
When looking for an example of the benefits of being patient with a young quarterback, look no further than the Broncos' Week 15 opponent.
Broncos sign CB Parnell Motley off 49ers’ practice squad, activate Jeff Driskel from Reserve/COVID-19 list
The Broncos also placed a pair of players on IR.
Broncos kicker Brandon McManus unlikely to play Saturday against Bills
Backup kicker Taylor Russolino, 31, most recently played in the XFL for the St. Louis BattleHawks, going 9-of-10 on field goals, including a 58-yarder that was that league's longest of the year.
So much for scouting reports: Broncos' Alexander Johnson, Josey Jewell defy expectations - Denver Broncos- ESPN
The success of Johnson and Jewell may be a riddle in the middle of the Denver defense but their durability and production has been sorely needed.
Broncos Legends: The stories, games and accolades that defined Karl Mecklenburg’s Broncos career
As we continue our series that features prominent Broncos alumni, here's a look back at Karl Mecklenburg’s Ring of Fame career in Denver.
Barring a late change, Taylor Russolino expected to make NFL debut in place of Brandon McManus
Starting kicker Brandon McManus remains on the team's Reserve/COVID-19 list after being deemed as a close contact from an interaction away from the facility, according to a tweet he sent Monday.
'That's why we drafted him': Broncos rookie KJ Hamler 'coming around' - Denver Broncos- ESPN
The Broncos appear to have a pair of 21-year-old building blocks at wide receiver in Jerry Jeudy and Hamler.
What we learned from Chargers' win over Raiders on Thursday night
Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert led the Los Angeles Chargers to a dramatic 30-27 overtime win against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night.
Tom Brady, Philip Rivers among top 10 free-agent signings of 2020
As we hurtle toward the conclusion of the NFL regular season, it's a good time to review which offseason investments provided the greatest returns. Nick Shook ranks the top 10 free-agent signings of 2020.
Top 10 NFL defenses for the 2020 season: Steelers, Saints lead the field
With some help from Next Gen Stats, Nick Shook ranks the top 10 defenses in the NFL this season. Where do Aaron Donald's Rams land? And which team claims the No. 1 spot?
QB Index, Week 15: Aaron Rodgers overtakes Patrick Mahomes at No. 1
Does Aaron Rodgers deserve the title of QB1 over Patrick Mahomes? NFL.com editors assess the quarterback hierarchy heading into Week 15 of the 2020 NFL season.
Raiders' Marcus Mariota fills in for injured QB Derek Carr, passes for 226 yards in season debut
Marcus Mariota, the highest-paid backup quarterback in the NFL, made his season debut for the Raiders on Thursday night, filling in for an injured Derek Carr in their dramatic 30-27 overtime loss to the Chargers.
2021 NFL draft rankings: Top 25 prospects, best by position in Mel Kiper's new Big Board
A linebacker moving into the top 10, and a new No. 1 defensive tackle. Mel Kiper updates his rankings for next year's class.