(CBS4) – Two starts in to the Drew Lock era at quarterback for the Denver Broncos and the rookie has given fans plenty of reason to be excited. The 23-year-old signal caller has led the team to back-to-back wins over the Chargers and Texans while tossing five touchdowns and just two interceptions.
For a Broncos organization that has been searching for a franchise quarterback ever since the Super Bowl win with Peyton Manning, the early returns on this year’s first round pick are exciting. NFL on CBS analyst Trent Green says the thing that he has been most encouraged to see is the amount that the coaching staff has been willing to trust Lock, expanding his role from start to start.
“When you go back to his first start that they got the win on late, everything was really quick for him. It was a lot of screens, a lot of slants, get the ball out of his hands quick. It was a lot of move him around the pocket so that he wasn’t back there hanging on to it,” said Green. “This last week’s game I thought was a lot better because they gave him more. Which is all understandable. With experience you expand what you’re going to call.”
That is reflected in the numbers as Lock was 18/28 for just 134 yards against the Chargers (4.7 YPA). Against the Texans last week the rookie threw one less pass attempt, but completed four more passes and 175 more yards. He improved his yards per attempt number to 11.4, showing more confidence in throwing deeper passes. That is the growth that you want to see from a young quarterback, but Green says this week will be a challenge for a couple of reasons.
First, the Chiefs defense has been a much improved unit that Green believes has really come on in the last few weeks after some early growing pains. Under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Green says that the defense has been blitzing more and in varied ways. He expects that to continue this Sunday in an effort to confuse the rookie quarterback making just his third career NFL start.
“Spagnuolo is doing a lot more blitzing. He has always been a pressure guy depending on his personnel. He has been blitzing secondary, safeties, linebackers and he’s finding different ways to get after the quarterback,” said Green. “I would think that’s going to be continued when you’re going up against a rookie quarterback making his third start. They’re going to try and make it uncomfortable as possible for Drew Lock.”
Aside from making it uncomfortable, Green says another factor to watch for Lock in this game is how he controls his emotions. A Missouri native, Lock grew up rooting for the Chiefs going to high school within 15 miles of the stadium and attending University of Missouri for college. Though Lock will tell you it’s just another game, Green knows there are likely to be some “interesting feelings” for the rookie as he plays in his hometown.
“I know he’s saying it’s just another game, but he grew up in the Kansas City area, was a Chiefs fan growing up. He is coming back to play in Arrowhead,” said Green. “He did play at Arrowhead in college, but now he is headed to Arrowhead to play for the first time as a professional. I’m sure there’s going to be some interesting feelings.”
Feelings and pressure aside, the Broncos are trying to snap an eight-game losing skid in the rivalry when the game kicks off at 11:00 a.m. Mountain Time on Sunday.