Denver Broncos: Drew Lock leads balanced offensive effort

DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 22: Drew Lock #3 of the Denver Broncos runs out of the pocket against the Detroit Lions in the second quarter at Empower Field at Mile High on December 22, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 22: Drew Lock #3 of the Denver Broncos runs out of the pocket against the Detroit Lions in the second quarter at Empower Field at Mile High on December 22, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Denver Broncos rookie QB Drew Lock led an impressive, balanced offensive effort in the team’s win vs. Detroit on Sunday.

It was only the fourth career start for Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock, but he looked like a seasoned veteran out there in his first come-from-behind victory.

Lock and the Broncos got off to a slow start, both offensively and a little bit defensively, and definitely on special teams, giving up a punt return touchdown to the Lions which put Denver in a 10-0 hole.

At that point, an injury to Elijah Wilkinson forced the Broncos to break the ‘in case of emergency’ glass and put Jake Rodgers in at the right tackle position, and for whatever reason, it was at that point that the offense really started humming.

After starting the game with three straight punts, here’s how the offense’s next five drives went.

  • 9 plays, TOUCHDOWN
  • 11 plays, FIELD GOAL
  • 11 plays, FIELD GOAL
  • 11 plays, TOUCHDOWN
  • 7 plays, TOUCHDOWN

It was some of the best offensive balance and consistency we’ve seen from the Broncos in the 2019 season, including the team’s blowout win in Houston a couple of weeks ago.

In addition to playing well both in the run and pass game, the Broncos didn’t allow Drew Lock to be sacked in this game which is especially impressive considering they were using three backups on the offensive line during the majority of that offensive prosperity.

Patrick Morris was playing in place of Dalton Risner, who was knocked out with the flu. Austin Schlottmann has been starting for Ron Leary. Elijah Wilkinson — the injury replacement for Ja’Wuan James most of the year — was replaced by Jake Rodgers in the second quarter.

It’s actually quite amazing what the Broncos’ offense has been able to do with all of the injuries and quarterback shuffling this year, and the fact that — as the CBS crew pointed out — this is the youngest offensive group in the entire NFL.

Pair a young offense with a first-year coordinator in Rich Scangarello, and it’s no wonder it’s taken the Broncos some time to gel and actually get some things going on that side of the football.

In this game against the Lions’ defense, which is basically the defensive version of Denver’s offense right now in terms of injuries piling up and youth everywhere, the Broncos were sort of able to have their way.

The Broncos had 198 passing yards and 150 rushing yards on the day, and averaged 5.2 yards per play. They converted 41 percent of third-down plays and didn’t turn the ball over once.

As a matter of fact, this was the first game since November 25, 2018 (the color rush win vs. Pittsburgh) that the Broncos had zero turnovers and actually won the game. The last time they had zero turnovers in a game was on the road against the Indianapolis Colts this season in a close loss.

The Broncos dominated time of possession in this game 36:08-23:52. They only had six penalties overall in this one and generally played a clean game, but the story in this game is about Drew Lock managing the game like a seasoned veteran, staying calm with a 10-point deficit, and the Broncos sticking to a gameplan and keeping balance throughout.

How do you have this kind of balance offensively with no turnovers? You have to make smart decisions with the ball, make accurate throws on third down, and the offensive line has to do its job.

Considering the Broncos’ current circumstances, it’s pretty wild how well they were able to play in this game, even against a beaten and battered Lions defense.

Even after the Broncos had scored 13 unanswered points into the third quarter, the Lions answered back with a touchdown drive, and Denver’s offense responded in a big way with two touchdown drives of their own.

There was no panic. There seemed to be more receivers getting open in this game and Lock was spreading the ball around to all of them. DaeSean Hamilton, in particular, had a big game, maybe his best as a member of the Denver Broncos.

Lock was finding him consistently and even with Darius Slay doing some of his best work on Courtland Sutton and a relatively quiet game from Noah Fant, the Broncos were able to exploit the middle of the field, bust zone coverage, and keep the Lions’ defense on the field for long periods of time to some painfully long scoring drives.

Next. Broncos regroup after tough first half vs. Lions. dark

This wasn’t a flashy game for the Broncos’ offense in terms of making explosive plays deep downfield, but it didn’t need to be and Rich Scangarello’s gameplan over the course of four quarters was really well done and well-executed by the players.