The Broncos need to let QB Drew Lock sink or swim
It doesn’t make sense for the Denver Broncos to bring in a backup quarterback to mentor Drew Lock.
The talk in Denver over the last few years is the Broncos need to add a veteran quarterback to help its young quarterback develop.
That’s not the right way to approach it.
Veteran quarterbacks don’t want to help develop young quarterbacks in front of them. That’s not their job. The backup quarterback is there to step in if, and when, his number is called.
The best way for a young quarterback to develop is to play right away. A lot of people want to complain that you can’t throw the young guy out there and kill his mojo. Well, if the kid has the “it” factor, he’ll adapt and succeed.
One great example from last season is the Los Angeles Chargers and Justin Herbert. Now, he didn’t play from day one like he should have, but he did become the starter in his second game.
The rookie was supposed to sit and learn behind Tyrod Taylor and, eventually, win the job. But then Taylor suffered a punctured lung just minutes before kickoff.
With hardly any first-team reps in practice and no regular season playing time, Herbert was thrown into a head-to-head matchup with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Herbert led the Chargers up and down the field — before eventually losing in overtime — showing he could play with the big dogs. Heck, he didn’t have Taylor there to mentor him.
In talking to multiple former NFL players this week, none said they ever saw a veteran quarterback trying to mentor his successor.
For instance, Peyton Manning never mentored his backups, even Brock Osweiler. Just because Osweiler was the supposed future of the Broncos after Manning retired didn’t mean the veteran was going to teach him how to play the position.
Osweiler did become a full-time starter, but it never lasted, and he’s now out of the league.
Drew Bledsoe never taught Tom Brady how to play the position in New England. The Patriots had a Super Bowl contending roster, and Bledsoe wanted his job back so he could lead the charge for a Lombardi Trophy.
Brett Favre never wanted to teach or mentor Aaron Rodgers, and even said it publicly.
“My contract doesn’t say I have to get Aaron Rodgers ready to play. Now, hopefully, he watches me and gets something from that,” Favre said.
Favre added: “There is no clause that says, ‘You groom the next guy who’s going to take your job, or else.’ It doesn’t work that way.”
Let’s even go back to the 2019 season. After Drew Lock was drafted, Broncos starting quarterback Joe Flacco explained that it wasn’t his job to mentor the rookie quarterback.
“As far as a time constraint and all of that stuff, I’m not worried about developing guys or any of that,” Flacco said. “That is what it is. I hope he does it well. I don’t look at that as my job. My job is to go win football games for this football team.”
Flacco added: “I’m not a selfish person, I don’t think. There are times where you have to be selfish. But listen, (offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello) does such a good job in those meeting rooms. Drew is going to learn from listening to him talk and then us getting the reps on the field and seeing how we all do it as a collective group of quarterbacks. … I hope he does learn from me because that means we’re out there lighting it up.”
Flacco is now with the Philadelphia Eagles and finding himself in the same situation with second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts.
It’s not the right path to take for developing a young quarterback.
At the end of the day, the quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator and possibly even the head coach need to be the guys who teach and put their quarterbacks in the right situations to succeed. If those coaches fail to do that, it falls on the general manager for not building his team right.
So far Drew Lock has showed some flashes, but not enough to show that he can play at a high level in the NFL. Lock has failed to read defenses and understand protections, according to people inside the Broncos facility, and it’s shown on the field.
Denver has attempted to trade for other quarterbacks this offseason but have failed to do so. It’s clear that general manager George Paton knows that Lock struggles on the field, but there’s that hope that maybe in year three he can breakout and be the superstar everyone wants him to be.
If the Broncos want Lock to succeed and prove that he’s the future of this team, they need to send him back out there and let him prove it.
The best way to improve as a quarterback is to get on the field and play.