The Fort Morgan Times
Lock’s Last Stand. Win the job, improve his consistency, help the Broncos become relevant again and, yes, he could still be a part of Paton’s Plan.
New year, same offense
Learning — not re-learning — has been a Lock offseason staple.
2016: New Missouri offense (Josh Heupel).
2018: New Missouri offense (Derek Dooley).
2019: New Broncos offense (Rich Scangarello).
2020: New Broncos offense (Pat Shurmur).
New coordinators meant new playbooks and a race to master the system so he could adequately lead his teammates.
In 2017, Heupel’s second year calling the Tigers’ offense, Lock increased his touchdown total from 28 to 44. Yes, he threw more interceptions (eight to 13), but the comfort level of being in the same language created a noticeable uptick in production.
Lock is banking on that kind of improvement within Shurmur’s offense.
“It’s been a really fun offseason to be able to finetune things … yes, it feels very good to finally be in the same offense for a second time,” Lock said.
This offseason was about watching himself on tape and making observations, both good and bad, and not watching another quarterback run Shurmur’s offense. Lock knew it would be a benefit.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “(Shurmur and I) had talked multiple times going into the last couple of games last year and even right after. We had kind of just started to figure each other out. He’s been extremely cooperative with what I say I like or what I say I don’t like. We’ve meshed really, really well this offseason and added a couple new things that he thinks might fit the style of game that we play.”
The statistics that stand out: Two — injuries Lock has sustained while trying to extend plays (wrist in 2019 and shoulder last year). Thirteen — interceptions during a seven-game stretch last year. And 49.4 — passer rating on attempts of at least 21 “air” yards per Stats, Inc. (second-worst in the league).
And one more — 1,141.
Career offensive snaps. He’s basically played one full season. Growth should be expected. The patience should run thinner for the Broncos’ decision-makers, but this isn’t the time to give up.
“Drew obviously has made great progress from a year ago,” Shurmur said. “Last year, he kind of went into the season raw without having an offseason. He worked his way through it and he did a lot of good things. I think he (has) kind of built on (those) good things.”
Peyton Manning easily admits, “I pull for quarterbacks.” He understands the pressure cooker of playing the position and the arching highs (victories and touchdowns) and gut-punching lows (losses and interceptions).
In particular, he pulls for Broncos quarterbacks. He wants Lock to do well. He wants Bridgewater to do well. He wants the Broncos to do well.
“It sounds like it will be a good, healthy competition,” No. 18 told The Denver Post this spring.
“Since I’ve retired (after the 2015 season), I’ve always tried to be somewhat of a resource for whoever the quarterback is. There have been quite a few of them, unfortunately, so hopefully we can get a little more continuity there, which certainly helps everybody, I think.”
The Broncos are still searching for that continuity.
Trevor Siemian in 201617 preceded Case Keenum (’18), Joe Flacco (’19) and Lock (’20). If Bridgewater wins the job, he will be the, gulp, fifth consecutive different opening-day quarterback. Not an ideal recipe for offensive production — the Broncos are 30th in points per game (19.5) during that five-season stretch.
Lock is only 24 so this isn’t the be-all/end-all training camp for him. Fellow second-round picks who started for multiple teams include Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Osweiler and now Andy Dalton. Although Bridgewater is challenging him, Lock remains steadfast in his ability to lead the Broncos.
“I’m excited where this is going,” he said. “I see a lot of things that we’re building on.”