Assuming he doesn’t twist his ankle tripping over a dog, as Brian Griese once did, or get food poisoning, as John Elway suffered during a visit to the White House, or if Vic Fangio doesn’t have a brain burp before the game, Drew Lock will start his first NFL game Sunday afternoon.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will start his 17th, and possibly last, game @ Mile High stadium.
Lock vs. Bolt.
A Rivers passes through it. Lock will be the Broncos’ 11th quarterback to duel Rivers, who has beaten eight of the previous starters (losing to Brock Osweiler twice and Joe Flacco earlier this season). No other opposing quarterback has appeared in Denver this often, and Rivers has played against the Broncos a personal-high 29 times (including in San Diego in 2005 as a backup and in a playoff loss in 2013).
Other than the late Al Davis, nobody else has served as such a Hairy Oilcan archvillain as Rivers, who has won six games here. “I’m excited to go to Denver,’’ he said during the week. Yawn. The refuse ranger has gotten into fusses with Broncos fanciers, Jay Cutler, Josh McDaniels, Chris Harris Jr. and his own sideline associates on occasion. Nobody is immune to his clean, creative comments. However, with seven interceptions in November and a 4-7 record, Philip has been muted. And, in the final year of his contract, Rivers’ future is unsettled in Los Angeles and the league.
However, all the emphasis will be on The Drew Lock Experience? Is this just the beginning of a long, successful career for Kid Drew, or the beginning of the end of another era error?
John Elway clone finally? Paxton Wrong Way, Tommy Maddox, Brock Osweiler and Tim Tebow? Could Drew become Drew Brees, or Drew Bledsoe, or Drew Stanton? Or will he be the next Broncos’ quarterback be flung in the dump with Keenum, Kelly, Siemian? Is he Tripucka or Tensi, Morton or Orton, or none of the above?
Will Denver love or loathe Lock?
The Drew Discovery commences.
Despite my pleading in 2018 that the Broncos select Josh Allen in the first round, Elway passed on him and every other quarterback in the draft. My imploring in ’19 turned to Drew Lock. Those are the two I believed could carry the Elway torch.
On Jan. 9, I tweeted: “Drew Lock to Broncos at No. 10. John Elway and Gary Kubiak were very impressed when they saw him in November.’’ In Missouri’s game against Arkansas, witnessed by the Broncos’ executives, Lock was 16 of 25 with two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns, and had no interceptions. In his final game against Oklahoma State, Drew was 23 of 38 for 373 yards and three touchdowns, without a pick.
Lock has a compelling-strong, laser-like Elway arm (75 yards on the fly, line drive throws and 99 touchdowns in 50 games), the ability to run (4.69 seconds in the 40), size (6-foot-4) and exceptional leadership abilities to elevate a mediocre team.
Something peculiar happened on the way to the draft for Lock, though. He wasn’t a lock for anybody. The Broncos became Lock-suspicious at 10th because Drew had played in a full-out shotgun spread (not under center); his hands were considered small (size 9); his crossover footwork (dropping back), consistency and touch-passing accuracy needed serious improvement; so Elway, exhausted from Paxton Disease, traded for Joe Flacco.
The Broncos dealt down for a tight end.
No other NFL was interested for 41 picks (which is where the Broncos grabbed an offensive lineman.) With the 42nd selection, acquired from the Bengals for three later choices), the Broncos chose their eighth quarterback in 11 drafts. The first 10 are gone.
Then, Lock, in the third exhibition, jammed his business thumb into the turf and has been out since with the sprain.
The Broncos’ brain trust wasn’t eager to bring back Lock, even when Flacco was injured and finished, and seemed intent in keeping him in the QB protection program until next season. But Brandon Allen was a one-game wonder.
Although everybody, including players, were Lock advocates, Elway and Vic Fangio declined to disclose his promotion, as if the Chargers will be fooled, until Sunday.
But, while Rivers is merely a sideshow attraction, the Broncos and their backers are locked in on Lock.
Will he be Drew Who or Drew Woo-Hoo?