If Broncos fans have their wish, Drew Lock will be the short and long-term future of the franchise.
But, for now, the Denver Broncos quarterback is merely another player on the roster. He’s not the leader which quarterbacks are expected to be.
For years, one could argue Chris Harris Jr. was the leader of the Broncos. He was outspoken, backed down from no one and embodied a work ethic which proved he couldn’t be stopped even though he was merely an undrafted player coming out of college. Harris was undoubtedly someone who teammates — and fans — looked up to in many ways.
But now, Harris is gone. Von Miller, the undoubted best defender on the team, has stepped into the leadership role. Even if that came more naturally to Harris than it has for Miller.
While the “Vonster” seems to have filled that void on defense, offensively, there seems to be a lack of a leader on the team. One could also argue Emmanuel Sanders was that leader recently, but he was shipped off to San Francisco last year, mid-season. Courtland Sutton looks to be the best player on offense currently, but we haven’t seen or heard much from him in terms of leadership yet.
And really, up and down the Broncos offensive side of the ball, youth prevails. Considering the long list of short-term options at quarterback the last four years, we have to go back to 2015 when Peyton Manning was the quarterback leader on offense.
It’s time for Drew Lock to step up and do that now.
Of course, with the ongoing pandemic, it’s difficult to do. Lock was working out in Missouri and has recently returned to Denver to work out, stay in shape and sling the pigskin. But what would really benefit his chemistry with new receivers — and their chemistry with new teammates — would be more skill players’ workouts ala Peyton Manning in 2013. In fact, back in February, Manning told Brandon Stokley he gave the young gun-slinger just that advice.
And, there’s actually some evidence Lock has begun to lead those unofficial workouts, which is a great start.
Undoubtedly, during those workouts, the players are talking about the wild world we’re all currently living in. The pandemic has limited in-person interactions for the football players who need to be in-sync on the field in order to execute and win games.
Beyond that, though, the unlawful killings of young, black people in George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others have sparked riots across the country. And then there’s the divisive, racist rhetoric being used by the president and others in authority as well.
There’s no doubt players — many of whom are black — are talking about all of this. In those closed-door discussions, it’s possible Lock is leading, listening and standing by them.
But, what Lock could do is speak out against racism, and speak up for “Black Lives Matter” publicly. Right now.
Last week, former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall explained the need for white players — specifically stars — to stand up alongside their black teammates against racism.
Marshall, who was once the college teammate of Colin Kaepernick, was the first Broncos player who kneeled during the National Anthem during the 2016 season. Now, at only 30 years old, Marshall is out of the NFL, just like Kaepernick. Each of whom were starters.
“People are finally understanding now what message we were trying to convey back in 2016,” Marshall explained on Mile High Sports Radio. “I think back to 2016; the only thing we were missing was prominent white figures protesting or speaking up about it.”
What we’ve seen in the 12 days since George Floyd was murdered has been a majority of black players speaking out. The aforementioned Miller didn’t mince words, saying, “police are supposed to protect & serve not hunt & destroy.”
And, there have been some white quarterbacks — Carson Wentz, Ryan Fitzpatrick — who have also spoken out.
Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Jake Fromm got himself in hot water for texting someone that only the “elite white race” should be able to own guns. Similarly, Drew Brees — a future Hall of Famer — saw a great deal of backlash from fans and players alike for his comments saying kneeling was disrespecting the flag.
Brees reversed course after the social media hoard went after him, in what Benjamin Allbright brilliantly called another “fourth-quarter comeback.”
Where does Lock stand on it all?
Yes, with so many — from companies to athletes and media stars — making these prepared “statements” in emails on on twitter, asking Lock to do just that seems unnecessary.
However, he’s the new kid on the block. Only five games into his NFL career, he wants to be the face of one of the most prominent franchises in the league, the Denver Broncos. Lock could, and should, make a short statement standing with black people and against the police brutality which has overtaken our nation.
That would show true leadership in a difficult time while also gaining the trust of his teammates going forward.