Drew Lock out due to COVID protocol, so it’s Bridgewater or bust for Broncos vs. Cowboys

Drew Lock on the sideline. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.
Drew Lock on the sideline. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.

It’s been a big week for COVID-19 in the NFL. The biggest story has been Aaron Rodgers contracting COVID, it being revealed he’s not vaccinated when it was believed he was and then the star QB went on Pat McAfee spewing misinformation.

But in Denver, where there’s been a quarterback “competition” and desire from many to see Drew Lock play, the now-backup QB is out today due to COVID protocols per the team:

Usually this season, if starter Teddy Bridgewater struggles, Lock is looked at as the savior. Fans want to see the young and athletic prospect come into the game and shake things up.

And that desire for a change at QB has been warranted, at least in part because Bridgewater has been very rough at times during the last five games. However, even when he’s played poorly, Lock has only come in once this season at QB; when Bridgewater was concussed against the Baltimore Ravens.

The reality is, Bridgewater has been bad at times, but still has played better than Lock has historically and Denver’s offense has been better, too. That game against the Ravens was really rough, as he and the entire Broncos offense were bullied by Baltimore and he was knocked out of the game. But Teddy did bounce back, playing well against the Steelers (2TD, 1INT, 92.9 rating).

However, the loss to Las Vegas the next week was Bridgewater’s worst game of his Denver tenure, with three interceptions. All while he was hit an astronomical 17 times during the loss.

Then in Cleveland on a short week, some fans really wanted to see Lock play as Bridgewater was nursing an injured leg. But Denver’s starting quarterback pushed through the pain for a gutsy performance, and like in the loss to Pittsburgh, the team rallied in the second half but it was too little, too late.

Finally, the win against Washington last week was one of Bridgewater’s most efficient, completing 73.1 percent of his passes and failing to turn the ball over while scoring once.

So, while it was clearly going to be Bridgewater starting again today against the powerful Dallas Cowboys (6-1), there’s always seemingly a possibility Lock could come in to try and jump-start the offense. Not today.

Lock has been sidelined due to COVID protocol before, notably last season when he and the entire QB room took off their proximity monitors, placed them in four corners of the room and then sat together closely without masks. (The details of the last bit only came out in recent months.) Backup Jeff Driskel ended up testing positive that week, and the Broncos were forced to play with practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton at QB in a game Denver was crushed by the New Orleans Saints.

Per Mike Klis, Lock is vaccinated and came into contact with a person who is a positive case in Dallas.

Update: Starting tight end Noah Fant and backup guard Netane Muti are also out today due to COVID protocols per Mike Klis:

Against the Cowboys today, the Broncos will need a miracle. First and foremost, the offensive line must protect Bridgewater and give him time to process and throw. They’ve been awful this year in pass protection, and the team will be without arguably its best lineman in left tackle Garett Bolles.

Luckily, the team does have Jerry Jeudy back, as he returned from an ankle injury last week. Jeudy’s route running abilities and overall athleticism should give even Trevon Diggs — a sensational rookie cornerback — fits, unless Diggs instead matches up with Courtland Sutton.

Defensively, Denver has their work cut out for them against the third-highest scoring offense (32.1 points per game), a group which features Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott and the list goes on. A win in “Big D” would be a massive upset and likely help the Broncos build confidence going forward.

But, the Cowboys are favored to win by 10, and it could be even more than that when it’s all said and done. The Broncos (4-4) face the Cowboys in Dallas at 11 a.m. MT this morning on FOX.

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