With regards to what we witnessed Sunday when the Broncos systematically took apart the heavily-favored Houston Texans in a 38-24 game that was realistically over by halftime, I say simply: better late than never.
We saw new plays, we saw new contributors, and we saw an aggressive play-calling style, the likes of which we have not seen all season. We saw offensive weapons we knew we had, and some we might not have previously even noticed. We saw real confidence and continuity in our offense, unlike any that has been witnessed in these parts for about the last four seasons.
Hats off to the much-maligned offensive coordinator, Rich Scangarello, who finally opened up the playbook with stunning results.
More importantly, we finally saw points from our offense, and lots of them. A Broncos’ offense that had not scored more than 24 points in a game since October of 2018 rattled off 31 points in the opening half against one of the NFL’s most heralded defenses. It was actually surreal, but in a wonderful way.
No more than 24 points since the October 2018 win against the Cardinals, really? Can you believe we’ve faithfully stood by our Broncos every Sunday for this long, knowing that three touchdowns or less would probably be the extent of our team’s scoring production? If that is not a shining testament to our true loyalty as fans, I don’t know what is.
But that’s not the point here, right?
The point is that we saw our team win its second game in a row with our dynamic rookie quarterback Drew Lock at the helm. Lock completed 22 of 27 passes for 309 yards with three touchdown passes in the first half.
That’s a stat line worth committing to memory, because it just might represent the beginning of something special.
Denver and Houston fans were both likely stunned into silence by the Broncos’ 31-3 first-half explosion. The difference was, it was a happy state of stunned silence for Denver fans.
Most of us probably enjoyed watching the other guys suffer for a change. Houston fans were clearly in a state of very unhappy stunned silence, and they likely still are. But somehow, sympathy for their situation escapes us all.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Lock’s coming-out party was his equal opportunity approach to distributing the football. Of his 22 completions, 10 different receivers were utilized. Courtland Sutton hauled in five, and rookie tight end Noah Fant caught four. No other receiver caught more than two, but that included a list of eight pass catchers, some of whom you might not have even heard of.
That is an extremely positive sign for the 23-year-old quarterback from Missouri. He is demonstrating that he can hit a variety of targets, and that he is not dependent upon just a few select patterns or routes.
The fact that many of his targets have not been regular contributors until now also indicates that Lock elevates the play of those around him, which is often considered to be a common trait among all the great quarterbacks.
One thing that was certainly evident Sunday was that Lock can sling the football to any part of the field with authority and accuracy, while under pressure. Some of his passes demonstrated impressive touch and timing, while others were absolute bullets.
The eye test is generally the most trustworthy test of all, and Lock passed that test with flying colors.
Having said all of that, I thought it was appropriate, and somewhat humorous, when Broncos head coach Vic Fangio wisely resisted the urge to gloat publically over his new quarterback. After last week’s victory over the Chargers, Fangio was complimentary of Lock, but insisted that he was not yet ready to nominate him for the Hall of Fame.
This week, Fangio was again mildly complimentary of the rookie’s performance, but asserted repeatedly, “It’s just two games.”
Fangio, understanding the fickle nature of the game, especially as it pertains to the psyche of young quarterbacks, is not about to proclaim publically that Lock is anything special just yet.
That’s it, Coach. Keep that kid humble and working hard. Everyone else, especially the media, is going to pump him up beyond belief.
Fangio knows someone has to keep Lock’s feet on the ground, and he’s more than willing to assume that duty.
One last thought: It might be ‘just two games’ since Lock has taken the field amidst the lingering shadows of one failed quarterback prospect after another in Denver, but do you think John Elway, at least privately, is starting to feel the relief of a thousand monkeys off his back?
Critics be damned. Number 7 might get the last laugh after all.