Denver Broncos: Justin Herbert putting pressure on Drew Lock?

Oct 12, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) during warm ups prior to kickoff against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 12, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) during warm ups prior to kickoff against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Justin Herbert’s performance so far could be putting pressure on Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock.

If you don’t have a quarterback in the NFL, you’re not going very far. The Denver Broncos are finding that out the difficult way over the past five years, trying to find the replacement for Peyton Manning and searching every nook and cranny for him.

While the Denver Broncos have been searching for their solution at the quarterback position, other teams around the league and in the AFC West have seemingly discovered them.

The Kansas City Chiefs spent two first-round picks on Patrick Mahomes in 2017 and he became the NFL MVP by 2018, as well as the Super Bowl MVP by 2019.

That’s not necessarily a realistic progression for any young quarterback, although second-year quarterbacks have been on a hot streak lately.

The expectations for young quarterbacks are incredibly high and for many teams, patience is thin. The Buffalo Bills should be commended for their patience with Josh Allen through some dark times.

They put their chips in the middle of the table on Allen, and he’s become a star player for them in three years.

Not every team succeeds in building a competent roster around their young QB like the Buffalo Bills have, and you don’t need to look any further than the New York Jets and Sam Darnold for evidence of that.

Teams are taking swings at quarterbacks every year and the Los Angeles Chargers just made a transition in 2020 from Philip Rivers to Justin Herbert. Opening the season with Tyrod Taylor as the starter, it appeared that Herbert was on the Drew Lock 2019 plan unless Taylor got injured, which he did, and Herbert isn’t giving that job up anytime soon.

Through four games, Herbert has played incredibly well with a completion percentage over 68 percent and nine touchdown passes compared to just three interceptions.

More than just impressive statistics, Herbert has been making incredible throws and showing poise, guts, and arm talent that has much of the NFL world abuzz.

In addition to Herbert’s rapid ascent and Patrick Mahomes being Patrick Mahomes, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is enjoying one of the best seasons of his NFL career and Las Vegas just got a signature victory over Mahomes and the Chiefs, marking their indefinite inclusion in the ‘relevant teams’ discussion for 2020.

The Broncos are orange and blue, but right now the fan base is green with envy. It’s not difficult to see why, either.

In fact, you can really boil it down to one impressive statistic that is really causing Broncos fans to feel like the kid who has to stay home and do chores while all of their friends are outside playing and having a great time.

Touchdown percentage.

All of the AFC West quarterbacks — besides Denver’s — have been in the top 10 so far this season in touchdown percentage (percentage of pass attempts completed for touchdowns).

Patrick Mahomes: 6.7 percent (6th)
Justin Herbert: 6.4 percent (8th)
Derek Carr: 6.3 percent (9th)

Since no Broncos starter qualifies for a league ranking in that category, it’s important to note that the trio of Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel, and Brett Rypien have combined to rank 21st in the NFL this season in total passing touchdown percentage (4.2 percent).

How do you beat the Chiefs? How are you going to out-duel Herbert and Carr, for that matter?

You’re going to have to put up points in bunches.

The Broncos are not blind to this, which is why they have invested so much draft capital in the offense in the last three years, and why it’s important for Broncos Country to be patient with the process.

Because Drew Lock has been injured, it’s been easy to get discouraged and even envious of the success the other AFC West teams are having, at least in terms of quarterback development in the Chargers’ case (the Chargers are 1-4).

Lock’s small sample size from this season has caused a number of fans to forget about his tremendous plays in the 2019 season, but is Herbert putting added expectations on Lock?

I would say that’s more than fair to say at this point.

The Broncos already knew they were going to have to deal with Patrick Mahomes for the foreseeable future. Now it appears as though the Chargers have a star in the making and it’s only natural for Broncos fans to want one of their own.

Lock’s injury has almost made it feel as though the Broncos don’t have a young player on the roster who is capable of making the kinds of plays we’ve seen from Herbert, but they do have that kind of player on the roster.

Hopefully, Lock will be able to come back against the New England Patriots and come out slinging. Considering he’s only got really six games under his belt in the NFL, it’s also reasonable to expect more growing pains along with the positive signs he will show.

Finding quarterbacks is one of the toughest things in the NFL to do. It feels like other teams are making it look easier than it actually is, which is adding pressure to Drew Lock from the Broncos fan base to perform at a high level immediately.

Lock played good football against the Titans and was hurt by some key dropped passes in clutch situations. He made some nice throws against the Steelers before going down with his shoulder injury.

He obviously also made some really good throws in 2019 as a rookie coming out for his first NFL action, helping lead the Broncos to four victories.

Next. Drew Lock leads list of key players who could return vs. NE. dark

When he gets back from this latest injury, the pressure is going to be on to play at a high level. Here’s hoping we see Lock rise to the occasion and prove to Broncos fans that he can be the franchise QB the team clearly believes he can be.