For four years John Elway has been searching for the successor to Peyton Manning at quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
And in Drew Lock, Broncos Country finally have someone to believe in, someone who could finally solve the franchise’s problem at the most important position in football.
Yet this offseason has seen various outlets and pundits doubt Lock’s ability and suggest the Broncos should move for Cam Newton or Jameis Winston, claiming that Broncos fans are “oddly confident” in their young quarterback.
But is that confidence odd, given the transformation in the team’s fortunes when he was under centre in 2019?
Would a 30-year-old Cam Newton really be a long-term answer in Denver?
Prior to Lock, the Broncos had their fair share of ‘stop-gap’ veteran quarterbacks, from Mark Sanchez to Joe Flacco.
Those ‘stop-gaps’ have failed to deliver, with the Broncos averaging a measly 19.2 points per game over the last four years. That is significantly lower than the league average of 22.6 over the same time, whilst in 2019 the Broncos’ 17.6 PPG ranked fifth-worst in the NFL.
Enter Drew Lock, who in his first five games as an NFL starter, after recovering from injury, took an impotent offense averaging a touch under 16 PPG to 21.2 PPG.
Some will claim his 38-point outing in Houston in just his second start was an outlier – it would also be fair to say his three-point outing in the snow in Kansas City was an outlier – but in the three remaining games Lock still averaged 22 PPG.
Over a 16-game stretch that would leave the Broncos 18th in the NFL in scoring – not elite, but a vast improvement, led by a kid just getting his feet under him in professional football.
Simply watching the Broncos under Drew Lock compared to the Broncos under Joe Flacco you can see a different animal.
You can see the difference between a guy who threw six touchdowns in eight games, and a guy who threw seven in five.
But most of all, the thing that matters is winning. When the Missouri product made his debut, the Broncos were 3-8, and the offense was stuck in reverse. Lock went 4-1, taking his team from fourth in the AFC West to second.
The intangibles played a part in that, and they matter. Lock is a charismatic leader, someone his teammates believe in, and someone who can raise the level of those around him. Just look at Garrett Bolles, who played like a competent left tackle with Lock behind him.
Now, of course we shouldn’t be crowning Drew Lock as the saviour, but you can’t blame some for doing so. He still has a lot of room for improvement, but doesn’t everyone who has only played five professional games?
Anyone arguing that Drew Lock hasn’t earned the right to be the Broncos unquestioned starter for the upcoming season simply hasn’t been paying attention.
That said, he could prove over the course of 16 games that he isn’t ‘the’ guy, and then the Broncos are back to square one.
But he at least deserves the chance to prove himself. And if you watched Lock last season, you will know that he has every chance to become ‘the’ guy in Denver, and lead the Broncos back to the promised land.
If you watched him last season, you know that Broncos Country has every right to believe in Drew Lock.