Playing quarterback for the Broncos is a man’s job. Chucking the football like a kid throwing rocks, Drew Lock keeps making childish mistakes. In a 43-16 loss to Kansas City on Sunday, the soundtrack of his performance was breaking glass.
I hate to be a nag, but his turnovers are beginning to smell worse than dirty socks left on the bedroom floor. In the reckless pursuit of the big play, Lock too often hurts himself, his team. Or both.
“Eventually we’ll stop having this conversation,” Lock promised me Sunday. “But needs to happen faster (rather) than later. And it will.”
On a snowy October afternoon when the defending Super Bowl champs graced us with their presence in this dusty old cowtown, Lock was the Broncos’ worst problem during a lopsided loss to the Chiefs, a defeat so humiliating coach Vic Fangio and veteran defender Shelby Harris bickered on the sideline before the game ended.
When Lock grows up, he wants to be Brett Favre. Or Darth Vader. Or Jeezy.
But he’s not ready to be a Hall of Fame quarterback. Or the biggest villain in the AFC West universe. Or a rapper that goes with the flow wherever it takes him.
For now, Broncos Country would settle for Lock being Trevor Siemian or anything approaching a competent NFL quarterback.
“There’s a fine line between taking what the defense gives you, and then when they don’t give you what you want, trying to make a play,” Lock said after throwing two interceptions, including a pick returned 50 yards for a touchdown by K.C. safety Daniel Sorensen to put the Chiefs ahead 17-6 in the second quarter.
“I can make the plays when they’re there. But I’ve just got to get a little better judgment on when it’s time to make that play or say, ‘You know what, they got us.’”
Lock has lost his status as the Precocious Child of Broncos Country. At this point, Lock would have to step up his game to be merely as good as Siemian was as a stopgap quarterback for Denver.
In nine games since being named the starter, Lock has thrown for 1,699 yards, with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions, resulting in a quarterback rating of 79.26. After being named the starting QB in 2016, Siemian threw for 2,028 yards, with 12 TD pases and seven picks, for a quarterback rating of 90.69 through nine games.
Who has the best Foghorn Leghorn voice in the Broncos locker room? Maybe it’s Harris, who wasn’t afraid to mix it up with Fangio on the sideline, when all the frustration of this once-proud franchise’s 10th straight loss to the Chiefs came spilling out late in the game.
The Fangio-Harris tiff, which happens when a bad team doesn’t pay one of its top players top dollar, can either galvanize a team or split it right down the middle of the locker room. When I asked Fangio the source of the nasty disagreement, he noted Harris lost his cool on the field with the Broncos trailing by 21 points in the fourth quarter.
“I was just really disappointed that we would get an unsportsmanlike penalty there at that point in the game when the game’s out of hand,” Fangio said.
Death by inches. Isn’t that what Fangio vowed he wouldn’t allow?
But as safety Justin Simmons admits, the autopsy of too many losses by these Broncos is littered with notes on a pick-six or a special-team gaffe. Self-inflicted wounds. Death by inches. When does an error of commission cross the line from laudable aggression to head-scratching blunder?
Watching Lock refuse to simply step up in the pocket instead of hastily scrambling like an Elway wannabe is starting to grow old. Too often, Lock seems bent on proving he can heave the football 50 yards into coverage instead of checking down to a wide-open receiver and moving the sticks for a first down.
It’s too early to quit on this Crazy Kid. But maybe Lock could use some tough love from somebody capable of wiping the smirk from a young quarterback’s face and telling him to buckle down without breaking the wild Broncos spirit No. 3 brings to the Denver huddle.
Lock means well. He doesn’t shirk responsibility. In fact, the error-prone QB says it would be fine if a veteran teammate lambasted him with this hard truth: “You need to pick your (stuff) up.”
Lock has a strong head on his shoulders. If he ever learns to use it, the Broncos might be dangerous.
Eventually, we need to stop having this conversation. Or else.