Drew Lock shows good and bad in win on the road vs. Patriots
Drew Lock showed some good and some bad in return to the field vs. Patriots.
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock, fair or not, is under a lot of pressure.
The Broncos and really any NFL team would love to see the kind of instant, seemingly overnight success stories like Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert, but the reality is often more along the lines of guys like Jared Goff with the Rams.
Mahomes has set a really unfair standard by winning the MVP award and looking like the best player in the world in his first full season as a starter. Lamar Jackson saw seven starts in his rookie NFL season, winning six of those seven games in the process before winning MVP in his second season. Herbert only has four starts, but he has been slinging the ball all over the yard and making huge plays for the Chargers.
Everyone wants that kind of success early on with young quarterbacks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always click that quickly, and that has been the case for young Drew Lock with the Denver Broncos.
The really unfortunate thing coming from the fan and media pundit perspective is that Lock is seemingly not allowed the time to develop with on-field reps and mistakes. Fans want to see the team win, but not every fan is okay with the young quarterback finding his footing, even if the team wins in the process.
Most fans have a certain way they want the team to win.
The reality is, the Denver Broncos have a young quarterback worth building around. Everyone in the building could see that after Lock helped the Broncos to a 4-1 finish in the final five games of the 2019 season.
Last year, Lock became the first rookie quarterback in the history of the NFL with 300 passing yards and three touchdowns in his first career road start (@ Houston). He hasn’t been perfect, but Lock has shown signs of brilliance and playmaking ability, and most importantly at this point in time, he’s proven that the NFL game and the moment are not too big for him.
Drew Lock belongs, and seven full games into his NFL career, it is insane to be saying anything definitively negative about him.
The most important statistic from Sunday’s game
Wins are a team stat, there is no question about it. The Broncos gutted out a team victory against the Patriots with a stellar performance by the defense and kicker Brandon McManus, but to think Lock had nothing to do with the win would be incorrect at best, ridiculous at worst.
Lock played a crucial role in the win, even considering his back-to-back interceptions in the fourth quarter.
Throughout the first three quarters of the game, Lock managed the game well, made some really nice throws, and could have had at least a couple of touchdowns were it not for drops by his former college teammate Albert Okwuegbunam, who was playing in his first NFL game.
Just like the Tennessee game, dropped passes made Lock’s final stat line look way worse than it actually was, and coming back from a shoulder injury on the road against the Patriots, he looked just fine and didn’t have any setbacks from what we had already seen.
Quarterbacks throw interceptions, who knew?
One of the best sequences of the game
On 1st-and-10 in this particular sequence, Phillip Lindsay gets a carry for one yard. On the second play, Lock was sacked by an unblocked blitzing Patriots linebacker for a loss of 12.
On 3rd-and-21, the Broncos didn’t just sit on the ball, run a draw, or a predictable screen play. He threw this absolute dime to Tim Patrick.
Look at the game situation here. It’s 3rd-and-21, the Patriots are probably thinking they’re going to get the ball back and get some momentum going in their favor.
Instead, Lock takes the Broncos from their own 25 into Brandon McManus’ field goal range, or close.
It was a momentum-killing play for the Patriots, and a great tight-window throw from Lock.
The Broncos would go on to kick another field goal to go up 15-3 at that point.
You would love to see them add a touchdown there but that was one of the red zone sequences when Albert Okwuegbunam, unfortunately, dropped a touchdown pass, though to give credit to the defensive back who made a really good play, the ball was punched out after Okwuegbunam had made a nice play to high-point the ball.
Late in the fourth quarter, Lock made a poor decision to try and squeeze a back-shoulder throw to Tim Patrick when Patrick decided to run deep. The Patriots defensive back in man coverage simply kept his eyes on Lock and made an easy play to get the Patriots in scoring position.
The play before this, Lock muffed a snap when under center, and thankfully fell on the ball immediately but still showed a lapse in concentration.
After Lock’s first interception set the Patriots up in scoring position, the Broncos gave up three points. The very next offensive play by Denver, they made a curious decision to chuck the ball deep…
Lock threw to Tim Patrick once again, but the Patriots defensive back made a great catch on a bit of an overthrow and the play was effectively a first-down punt.
In that particular situation, it seems more like an error in judgment on offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who called the deep shot on first down when there was very little time left on the clock. Why were the Broncos not running the ball there?
As odd as the situation was overall, Lock either has to make a better throw or a better decision with the ball. As Vic Fangio alluded to after the game, you can’t just throw the ball up and hope something good happens.
With all of that said, those two throws by Lock are not indicative of how well he played earlier in the game. The Broncos made the tough catches and plays in the red zone against the Jets, for the most part, but they could have easily dropped over 30 points on New England were it not for untimely drops.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs, however, it’s not going to cut it to settle for field goals.
The Broncos came away with their first victory in New England since 2006, and Lock made history by being the youngest QB to ever win in Foxboro.
The Broncos’ defense playing well against the Patriots should not negate all of the good things Lock did, and the big-time throws that he made. Those deep shots will start connecting and not all of those red zone throws will be dropped.
The Broncos’ hope all along was to win while their young offense learned, and they showed the prototype for that against New England.