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The Broncos quarterback showed critical improvement against the Patriots.
Drew Lock completed 10 passes, took two sacks, fumbled a snap, threw two interceptions, and had perhaps his best day as an NFL quarterback. He outplayed a former MVP in Cam Newton on his way to doing so. I didn’t stutter. That really happened.
In doing so, Lock showed encouraging progress in two areas of his game that wasn’t present in his first five quarters of action this year:
- He kept his upper and lower body tied together.
- He didn’t drop his eyes in the phase of the pass rush.
These two things had a dramatic impact on his ball placement, which gave Jerry Jeudy the opportunity to drop a perfect pass on third and seven.
No play better illustrates how much better Lock looked than when he stared down the barrel for his 2nd and five completion to Jeudy on the Broncos’ fifth drive of the game. The Broncos come out in the gun with their receivers split out 2X2.
Bill Belichick’s sending five with man coverage behind it. The rush gets free on a stunt with Ja’Wuan Bentley (51) looping back inside to get past Austin Schlottmann, who stays on his initial assignment a tick too long. Jeudy’s bam step creates the space he needs to separate on his post, but by the time he gets his head around, Bentley’s got Lock dead to rights.
I remember Peyton Manning and won’t apologize for holding Broncos quarterbacks to that kind of standard. I have to believe John Elway feels the same way, which is why I talked at length last week about all the things Drew Lock needs to improve on over the remainder of the season.
Some of the complaints I’ve seen about Lock this week center on his propensity for 50-50 plays. Spare me. It’s who he is and probably always will be. It also leads to these:
Hey remember when Drew Lock hit Tim Patrick for 35 yards on 3rd and 21 and we didn’t really talk about it?
Let’s talk about it. pic.twitter.com/ffCI9QcnyM
— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 23, 2020
On 3rd and 21, the Broncos come out with a trips set to the right. Tim Patrick is out on the boundary, Jeudy’s in the slot, and Albert Okwuegbunam’s lined up just off Demar Dotson. DaeSean Hamilton is alone on the left boundary, while Royce Freeman’s next to Lock.
On the snap, all three receivers run a verticals concept while Lock fakes to Freeman. Okweugbunam hangs in to pick up any pressure coming off the right edge. Belichick’s sending 3, but the look is 4 at the snap.
Broncos protection holds up and Lock has a clean pocket to throw from. Lock’s eyes are on the safeties before sliding to his progression. He never leaves his first read: Tim Patrick on the 9 route. Lock’s footwork and rotation is clean on his release. He steps into the throw and flips his hip. Patrick is at the 38 yard line when Lock releases the ball. It comes down right before the 40 yard line going in.
Lock wasn’t perfect Sunday and the Chiefs look like a buzzsaw this week, but there’s plenty to look forward to this year.
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