Drew Lock’s play in 2020 fell below expectations. But the lack of an offseason due to the pandemic and an injury-riddled roster are reasons some believe the Denver Broncos should remain patient with Lock.
That’s a word a lot of people use: Patient.
But patient doesn’t work for the Broncos’ current situation. For one, it’s laughable to think patience exists in the NFL. And also, Denver head coach Vic Fangio can’t afford to be patient.
Based on recent Broncos history, Fangio is sitting in an unprecedented situation. Usually, Denver head coaches get two seasons to prove themselves, and if the results are not up to standard, they get fired.
Wade Phillips, Josh McDaniels and Vance Joseph were all dismissed before or at the conclusion of their second season. But despite an underwhelming 12-20 record as head coach, Fangio was retained for a third season at the helm in 2021.
Given his lack of success, Fangio doesn’t have the luxury to be patient with any aspect of his team, let alone his starting quarterback.
Under Fangio, the Broncos started the first quarter for the 2019 and 2020 seasons at 0-4 and 1-3, respectively. The head coach can’t get off to another slow start.
If the Broncos finish the 2021 season with a losing record, Fangio will most likely be fired. But if the Broncos start 0-3, Fangio could be fired before season’s end.
This means Lock’s time as starting quarterback for the Broncos is over.
Lock had some really good moments in the last four games of the season, reducing interceptions and looking clutch in key moments. There was legitimate improvement.
I would not be against going into 2021 with Lock as the Broncos starter, but my job isn’t on the line.
Unfortunately for Lock, Fangio can’t afford to be patient. He needs to win, and he needs to win early.
If Paton is unable to pull off the impossible and trade for Deshaun Watson, the Broncos are almost guaranteed to bring in a veteran quarterback. Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Mitch Trubisky and Ryan Fitzpatrick are all potential options for Denver.
In Fangio’s eyes, a quarterback like Dalton might be a better option for the Broncos to win early and build momentum. In 2021, the head coach needs a quarterback he can trust, not one who requires patience.
I’d be way more interested in giving Lock another season than finding a retread like Dalton.
We haven’t seen Lock’s ceiling; he’s still developing. A full offseason and a second year in the same offense might be just what Lock needs to be more consistent.
Dalton would be nothing more than the Broncos doing everything they can to finish 8-8. But 8-8 is probably the record Fangio needs to give himself a shot at returning to the Broncos in 2022.
If the Broncos bring in a veteran quarterback like Dalton to compete with Lock, he’ll have a strong chance of beating out the young QB — not because Lock is bad but because Dalton is an efficient quarterback.
Dalton can run any offense or play in practice and look brilliant doing so. In a competition, Dalton will look competent and capable compared to Lock, who is still taking steps toward becoming a complete NFL quarterback.
On the flipside, if the Broncos make Lock the starter, with a veteran backup he’ll have a short leash.
The career resurgences of Alex Smith in 2011 and Ryan Tannehill in 2019 are more than enough for Fangio to pull Lock the second he struggles and replace him with the experienced backup.
Patience doesn’t exist in the NFL, especially for a head coach on the hot seat. Fangio is desperate for wins, and he needs a quarterback who can win immediately.
Fangio isn’t in a position to be worried about the long-term prospects of Lock or the Broncos. Though Lock could fully develop into a starting quarterback in the NFL, the Broncos’ current circumstances means his time as Denver’s starter could come to a premature end.
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