The Denver Broncos have wandered about the NFL seas since they lost their boat captain to the freedom of retirement after the 2015 season.
The franchise’s first-year head coach thinks they’ve found their next leader.
"He’s done enough to show that he definitely that he could be The Guy," Vic Fangio said of rookie signal-caller Drew Lock, via The Athletic, "and we’re looking for that to be the case."
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Lock’s name was rarely mentioned in the first half of the season, thanks to the quarterback’s place on injured reserve since the start of the campaign. By the time Week 10 rolled around, though, it was about time for Lock to replace Brandon Allen and see if he could hack it at this ol’ pro football thing.
So far, the returns are largely positive. Lock has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 843 yards, a 6-3 TD-INT ratio and a 3-1 mark as a starter. His play has excited Broncos fans enough to come to the stadium to watch him play even in the final stages of another playoff-less season.
Fangio says those first 10 weeks spent on the sideline may have been the difference.
"He really used those 10 weeks he was off to his advantage," Fangio said. "I think he learned more about the NFL, learned more about playing quarterback in the NFL, all the things that go with playing quarterback in the NFL. Whereas I think in training camp he was a little bit inundated with everything, and I think those 10 weeks were really beneficial to him."
Lock’s play provides clout to the dwindling group of those who believe sitting a year (or half of a year) is best for a rookie quarterback’s long-term success, and Fangio’s claims back it up. Of course, every situation is unique and should be evaluated as such, but one has to wonder whether the second-round pick would be as effective had he started in Week 1.
"The thing is, he can move out of the pocket and he’s a game-changer," Broncos running back Philip Lindsay said of Lock. "He can make plays. We’ve got to ride around him and help him out by getting open. All I can say for Drew is, he’s doing a hell of a job and he’s going to only get better."
Perhaps Lock is the answer GM John Elway has been seeking (and missing) since the retirement of Peyton Manning. Lock is certainly surrounded by a youthful collection of talent in Lindsay, running back Royce Freeman, receiver Courtland Sutton and tight end Noah Fant.
We’ll look back in a couple years to definitively answer this question, but Broncos fans can be happy about one likelihood: They won’t have to spend this offseason discussing quarterback in the Mile High City.
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