There has been a long-standing saying in football that no one in town is as popular as the back-up quarterback.
When a team is struggling, two lynch mob cries are always the loudest: “Fire the coach” and “Put in the back-up.”
So, it is hardly surprising that the local fans are providing the torches, pitch forks and chants for Drew Lock to start at quarterback for the Broncos.
My question is, “Why?”
The most important single position on a NFL team is quarterback. I am not here to debate that. But that single position is reliant on so many things to go right on a team. And each of those things? Yeah, the Broncos are not good.
Let’s start at receiver. In a passing league, your receivers are vital. In the last 72 hours, the Broncos have traded away arguably their best when they sent Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers. Courtland Sutton has been impressive, but the drop-off after Sutton is Grand Canyon-esque.
DaeSean Hamilton might be the No. 2 receiver on paper for purposes of a depth chart. But he is not a true No. 2 receiver in the NFL. Anyone who has watched him play would know that. Can he improve? Absolutely. But he needs to do it fast or he is going to be left on the curb like a bag of leaves.
Beyond Hamilton, the Broncos have a whole lot of nothing at receiver. And I include tight end in that group, as rookie first-rounder Noah Fant has done little to solidify the pass catching group.
The next position, and more important than receiver for every great quarterback in the NFL, is offensive line. An incredible talent like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees can overcome challenges in the trenches. In 2015, it was too easy to watch the Broncos and conclude that an aging Peyton Manning had finally hit the end of the road. A handful of quarterbacks later, however, and the responsible conclusion might be that Manning had one of his best years ever. Not because he was throwing darts, but because he somehow managed to nullify the effects of an offensive line that had no business winning a Super Bowl. Manning’s intelligence and understanding of the game did wonders for a line that was exposed once he was gone.
It’s not fair or responsible to assume that Drew Lock can compensate for a line as porous as Denver’s. At current, it seems that even a veteran like Joe Flacco is flustered by the Broncos offensive line. What can Lock, who’s never taken a meaningful snap in the NFL do? In fact, letting him try might ruin him.
Garett Bolles has been a disaster of technique and holding calls. The revolving door of veterans with injury history have never cohesively connected for the team.
I don’t care if you’re Usain Bolt. You can’t outrun the problems your offensive line hands you.
And that includes your ability as an offensive coordinator. The game plan is only as good as the individuals tasked with executing it.
And right now, the Broncos don’t have the talent.
If you have listened to me on the radio or followed me on social media for long enough you know that I have commented on the NFL draft for a long time saying that a Hall of Fame career is predicated on two things: Where you are drafted and who is around you when you get there.
When David Carr was drafted by Houston he was nearly murdered by opposing defenses, setting a record with 76 sacks in his 2002 rookie season. He followed that up with 68 sacks in 2005. I do not believe that Carr was on the level of Peyton Manning. But I do believe that he was better than he was ever able to show the NFL. Where you are drafted and who is around you.
I happen to also believe the same of Blake Bortles, and the list goes on and on.
Not every great player is drafted to a great team. With great coaches. Great teammates. The right environment.
Some rise above it. Others are drowned in a sea of mediocrity with handsome paychecks but no hardware to show for it.
So at the end of the day, do I want to see what Drew Lock is capable of? Yes I do.
But I also know that if you throw him to the wolves wearing a uniform made of raw meat, he’s going to be eaten alive. And right now all I’ve seen from this team, it’s management and the pseudo-ownership group, is butchers setting Lock up for failure with ribeye underwear.
I hope I’m wrong.