Teddy Bridgewater, get well soon.
The last thing the Broncos want is Drew Locke playing quarterback against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
In fact, if Locke ever resumes at quarterback for the Broncos, it could be too soon.
With the NFL trading deadline in less than a month, it is not suggested that Denver will trade the lock. But maybe general manager George Patton should seriously consider ending a relationship I’m no longer certain is particularly healthy for the team or Locke.
When Bridgewater went down with a blowout against Baltimore, Locke was thrown into the field without any meaningful preparation during practice before the game. And their lack of preparation was exposed.
Granted, it was a no-win situation for Locke. Grabbing his helmet and warming up quickly at the start of the third quarter, Locke entered the Denver Huddle with the Broncos trailing 10 points and his offensive line held together by duct tape. So maybe three sacks, forced interceptions and shaky completion percentages were not only expected, but completely forgivable.
Hey, it’s not easy being a professional quarterback. During his post-game news conference, however, Locke miserably failed to turn professional.
“Fighting everything in order not to make an excuse,” Locke said, with a fair-to-me pout and body language so bad it was downright Cutler-esque.
While Locke was far from the only Denver player who had a bad day against Baltimore, I was struck by how little he owned to make up for the loss. On Sunday, it struck me that Locke wanted to be anywhere but here.
So perhaps it would be best for all concerned if he left Denver.
The best thing Bridgewater has brought to the Broncos is leadership that inspires confidence, inspires teammates and serves as an adult voice in the locker room.
The lock has a longer arm than the Bridgewater. But the young gunslinger doesn’t have nearly as much presence as the knowledgeable veteran.
I would argue that the Broncos haven’t done right by Locke in their development. Preparing a young quarterback to be successful in the NFL requires patience. But after Locke started only five games as a rookie, coach Vic Fangio fired his offensive coordinator for Pat Shurmur. Shurmur and Lock are a bad fit.
One of Patton’s first priorities after arriving in Denver was finding a quarterback he trusted. While there is no argument that Bridgewater has been effective as a starter, competing for the job during training camp was never the 50-50 offer Fangio claimed it would be. Jumping rigged the whole thing.
This was Bridgewater’s gig ever since he was issued a Broncos helmet. So Locke would have every right to feel wrong after being dismissed after only 18 starts in the NFL.
While Bridgewater remains in concussion protocol and did not practice on Wednesday, Fangio expressed optimism that he will be in the starting lineup against the Steelers.
The Lock Era in Denver is over before it really begins.
While Bridgewater isn’t the elite quarterback the Broncos need to be a perennial Super Bowl contender, he has ended a romance with Locke. When the team moved Brett Rippian to the active roster last week, instead of letting him go elsewhere, it was a sign that the team believed he could be a capable backup quarterback.
It is no sin to admit that Locke is a bad fit with this coaching staff and this aggressive system.
In fact, given his decision not to put faith in Locke, the most generous thing Patton could have done is to give Locke a fresh start in another NFL city.
The trade value of the lock is negligible at this point. It’s hard for me to imagine that many teams would be willing to surrender more for him than a future fourth-round draft option. Just spitting here: Maybe the Steelers, looking at the end for Ben Roethlisberger, might be tempted to take a shot at the lock. How about Locke, the second-round pick in exchange for Steelers receiver James Washington in 2019, the second-round pick in 2018, who has never firmly established himself in the Pittsburgh offense?
Locke deserves a chance to write a new chapter in his NFL career.
It’s hard to imagine her happily ever after ending up in Denver.