Drew Lock takes Broncos on another rocky ride – NFL Nation

The Denver Broncos are now 3-6 after Sunday’s 37-12 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and second-year quarterback Drew Lock‘s growing pains are becoming more and more obvious.

Lock’s four interceptions Sunday give him 10 in his seven starts this season and he missed most of the Week 2 game in Pittsburgh after suffering a shoulder injury in this first quarter. He came into the game last in the league in completion percentage and his 23-of-47 performance against the Raiders certainly won’t send those numbers the right way.

Lock continues to bypass available completions, especially early in games when things are still unfolding. This was especially true on his first interception against the Raiders. Until he can find a risk/reward balance in his approach, his numbers will suffer, his confidence could suffer and if there are more games like Sunday, his body will feel the pain as well.

Yes, the Broncos’ special teams continue to offer little help. Yes, their injury losses as well as changes they’ve been forced to make due to COVID-19 out-pace most others in the league, including in the offensive line where Calvin Anderson was the fourth different player to start a game at right tackle this season.

But Lock will almost certainly appear on the injury report in some fashion this week after the pounding he took from a team that came into the game with just nine sacks — fewest in the league. The bottom line is Lock has to consistently move the ball more quickly because when defenses that don’t usually rev up the pressure in the pass rush are doing it against him it is not the sign of progress he and the Broncos are looking to find.

Two words: Be. Better.

Beyond kicker Brandon McManus, the Broncos special teams continue to be a significant issue when games are still in question. Sunday, Diontae Spencer opened the proceedings with an indecisive, spin-the-wrong way kickoff return that put the Broncos’ on their own 3-yard line to open their first drive.

Troubling trend: The words “back foot” are too often being used to describe Lock’s interceptions. There is always a time for a quarterback to make something happen, to make an off-platform throw to get himself, and the offense, out of trouble. But Lock continues to throw — as offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has called it — a “fadeaway jumper” when he feels pressure from the defense. It’s clear opposing defensive coordinators have noticed.

Biggest hole in game plan: Phillip Lindsay had all of four carries in the game and was targeted once in the passing game. The Broncos trailed from the jump, which will mute the run game at times, and the Broncos ran just four plays on offense in the third quarter where it all got away. Neither Lindsay nor the team has said if Lindsay’s foot is acting up — he was not on the injury report this past week — but the bottom line is he wasn’t involved Sunday.

At one point in the first quarter it was Royce Freeman who came in for Melvin Gordon and not Lindsay.

Pivotal play: It was actually two plays, back-to-back in the second quarter, by Raiders safety Jeff Heath. With the Broncos trailing 10-6 at the Raiders’ 5-yard line with 18 seconds left in the first half, Heath drew a holding penalty on Broncos tight end Noah Fant to nullify a 5-yard touchdown run by Lock. It was indeed a hold, but Heath, an eighth-year veteran, sold it hard as well, shouting at the closest official during the entire play at the expense of actually trying to chase Lock.

On the next play, Heath knew where Lock was going to throw, sat on Jerry Jeudy‘s route and intercepted Lock at the goal line.

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