Drew Lock just arrived in Denver earlier this month, but the Broncos aren’t exactly making the former Mizzou quarterback feel at home.
After spending a second-round pick on the ex-Tiger, the Broncos — particularly GM John Elway and starting QB Joe Flacco — have taken every opportunity to tell whoever will listen that Flacco will absolutely not be Lock’s mentor.
Flacco has been saying it ever since Lock was drafted, and on Wednesday, Elway (a Hall of Fame quarterback himself) said he liked that his starting quarterback didn’t want to be a mentor:
One more nugget from talk with Elway: He liked Flacco’s comments on being focused on winning not mentoring. More important for backup to learn from starter than starter to teach backup. Elway may know a thing or two about playing NFL QB. #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) May 16, 2019
To me, this doesn’t seem like the best strategy. Why publicly continue to distance yourselves from Lock like this? He hasn’t even played a preseason game, and Elway and Flacco seemingly don’t want anything to do with him.
Now, I know this is a groundbreaking and revolutionary idea when it comes to football, but hey, maybe try to nurture your young players, particularly those who might soon be the face of the franchise.
Look, before you jump to the comments section to call me soft or whatever other aggressive nonsense you can think up, let me say this — Lock is a tough kid, and he’ll be fine. It’s not Elway and Flacco’s job to pamper Lock.
But my point is this: Do they really have to go so far out of their way to make him feel unwelcome? Also, since when did mentoring and winning become mutually exclusive tasks?
Lock needs to put in the work, watch film, study the playbook and learn from Flacco. However, Flacco doesn’t need to aggressively shun the rookie like Dwight shunned Andy in “The Office”:
Why can’t Flacco be a good teammate to Lock and also help the team win games? I don’t know what things are like in the Broncos’ locker room. Perhaps Flacco is much nicer to Lock in person. But, boy, you’d think he could be a little less aggressive when it comes to the media.
Also, if you’re Flacco, why are you so defensive about your job? If you were really confident in your abilities, you’d welcome the competition and not worry about some second-round rookie potentially taking the starting spot.
Oh, and another thing. Elway hasn’t exactly shown that he’s good at finding quarterbacks. Other than signing an aging Peyton Manning, the Denver quarterback situation has been a disaster since Elway took over personnel decisions.
Aside from Manning, the Broncos have trotted out Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Case Keenum as their starting quarterbacks since Elway took over the team in 2011. Yikes.
Now, they lucked into Lock — who many considered a first-round talent in the 2019 NFL Draft — in the second round, and they’re already mismanaging his development. Elway should be praying every night that Lock turns out to be a star, because even though he’s a legend in Denver, fans aren’t going to tolerate mediocre play from the quarterback position much longer.
And, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Flacco isn’t exactly the same guy who led the Ravens to the Super Bowl in 2012. Heck, this is the same guy who lost his starting job to Lamar Jackson last year. I probably don’t need to remind you that Jackson is far from what you’d consider a “polished passer.”
With all that said, the important thing is just for the Broncos to let the whole “mentor vs. winning” narrative die in the media. Flacco has already been declared the starter, so what more needs to be said? Elway and Flacco can refer to those earlier comments without making mentorship sound like the biggest burden anyone has ever had to undertake.
It’s fine if Lock doesn’t start this fall. In fact, it’s probably better if he doesn’t start. Look at three of the best quarterbacks in today’s NFL — Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. None of those guys started in their first years in the league (and Rodgers sat for multiple seasons before taking over for Brett Favre).
But, at this point, it’s important that Denver doesn’t alienate the potential future starter before he ever takes a snap. Just give Lock a chance and don’t make him start thinking about his second contract already.
He hasn’t publicly asked for anyone to hold his hand, so don’t be so eager to slap it away in front of the media.