ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock said Friday he isn’t ready to temper expectations for himself or the team’s youthful offense even though players didn’t get to practice because of the virtual-only offseason.
The Broncos, like the rest of the NFL, had their on-field offseason workouts canceled due to COVID-19, and Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said Tuesday that expectations for the 23-year-old Lock and the rest of the offense might have to be dialed back early in the season because of that.
Lock, however, disagrees.
“Not being able to be with the guys as much as you normally would is not going to change how I feel going into the season,” Lock said Friday. “I still want to do the things pre-COVID that I thought we could do this year. I still want to do those things.”
Lock, who started the Broncos’ last five games in 2019 as a rookie and is set for his first full season as the team’s starter, conceded that things could get bumpy at times early in the season, but he thinks the Broncos could still jell quickly.
“The real factor with it is, yes, we didn’t get enough time with each other,” Lock said. “We’re going to have a shortened period of time, we’re going to have to pick up a lot of things extremely quick. It might not be the prettiest at first, but our job is to make the mistake, learn from it and try not to make that mistake more than once because we really don’t have time to keep making the same mistakes. I’m still expecting the same things from us this year because we’re going to put in the extra work to make up for that time off.”
If the Broncos line up rookie wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in a three-wide-receiver set early in the season, the average age of that potential lineup could be just 24. Elway was asked earlier this week if, because of the offseason’s structure, expectations for the offense would be different, especially given that preseason games and joint practices that were scheduled with the Chicago Bears were canceled.
“Yeah, they’re definitely tempered,” Elway said. “I don’t think we can expect with no offseason for us to come out and be hitting on all cylinders. I know that we have spent a lot of time in Zoom meetings, and [offensive coordinator] Pat [Shurmur] and his staff on the offensive side have spent a lot of time with it, but there’s nothing like being on the practice field. It’s going to be a slow build.”
Elway added: “The expectations of Drew — I mean, he did play well for five games, but that was only five games last year. He didn’t have the offseason this year, which for young football players is always very, very important. … I was hoping for a couple preseason games just because we are so young on the offensive side, to get to see somebody else. We’re going to have to deal with it. Today’s world is adjusting, so we’ll adjust to that.”
Lock did organize some throwing sessions in recent weeks with several of the team’s players, including wide receiver Courtland Sutton, Jeudy and Hamler. The Broncos went 4-1 in Lock’s five starts to close out the ’19 season as he threw for 1,020 yards to go with seven touchdowns and three interceptions in those games.
The offense struggled for much of the year — the unit finished 28th or worse in scoring, total offense and third-down conversions — but three of the seven games in which the team scored 20 or more points were with Lock at quarterback.