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A replacement QB in 1987 is impacting the Drew Lock plan

(Photo by Getty Images)

The ongoing drama surrounding Drew Lock continues at Dove Valley this week. At this point, it doesn’t appear as though the rookie quarterback will be added to the active roster this week, so he won’t be the Broncos starter or backup when the take on the Bills.

That’s not necessarily a huge shock, as it lines up with what most thought the best-case scenario would be for Lock. Brandon Allen would start against Cleveland because Lock hadn’t practiced since mid-August at that point, as well at Minnesota and Buffalo because neither locale is a great place for someone to make their NFL debut.

But for those hoping Lock would get the start on Dec. 1 at home against the Chargers, Wednesday brought some potentially discouraging news. In the latest edition of “read the tea leaves,” Vic Fangio didn’t suggest that Lock’s debut in orange and blue is imminent.

“No, not yet,” the head coach answered when asked if a timetable had been set for the rookie to appear in a regular-season game.

Not a lot to go on there. Perhaps there’s a chance Lock will start off as Allen’s backup.

“Not necessarily, but it may work out that way,” Fangio added, offering little insight as to whether Lock would be a starter, the No. 2 quarterback on not activated at all this season.

And then the head coach dropped the bombshell.

“I don’t think it’s vitally important,” the coach said when asked if Lock needs to see the field this season.

In what looks like another non-playoff season, the Broncos don’t think it’s necessary to get their rookie quarterback, a guy John Elway called “the future” when he selected him in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, any in-game experience. It’s almost hard to fathom.

“We played a young quarterback in New Orleans for about three games and he did pretty damn good,” Fangio explained, referencing the strike-shortened season of 1987 for context. “Then, Bobby Hebert held out the next year. We took the attitude that we got this guy to play pretty good for three games. (It) didn’t work out that way.”

A little internet sleuthing revealed that the young quarterback the Saints got a look at during the strike season was John Fourcade, who was fresh off a stint with the Denver Dynamite in the Arena Football League. That year, he went 2-1 as the starter during the replacement player games, throwing for 597 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions, helping New Orleands finish 12-3.

Fourcade didn’t start any games in 1988 because Hebert played all 16, but he did got 3-0 in relief in ’89. In 1990, Fourcade started five games in place of new starter Steve Walsh, going 2-3 in the process.

That was his final season in the NFL, ending an improbable four-year run that saw Fourcade go from a scab quarterback to a bona fide backup. For his career, Fourcade posted a 7-4 record, threw for 2,312 yards and 14 touchdowns and was intercepted 15 times.

Not bad numbers, especially considering the fact that he had to cross a picket line to get a shot in the league. Nonetheless, this is the example Fangio cited when discussing whether or not Lock needs to see the field this season.

“With a young guy in limited reps, it can be good,” the head coach explained. “You can get a false positive. You can get a false negative.”

How do you avoid reading too much into a small sample size?

“You need a whole body of work, which includes offseason and training camp buildup,” Fangio added. “I’m not putting any limits on him if he does get in there, but I would be reluctant to make final conclusions.”

Fair enough. But that logic would suggest it makes more sense to play Lock than to not play him.

The Broncos have already seen him during the offseason. They’ve evaluated him during training camp. They’ve graded him in preseason games. The only thing left to add is some regular-season action.

This seems pretty obvious. But for whatever reason, and perhaps it’s simply a smokescreen before next week, Denver’s coaching staff and front office doesn’t seem to think the same way.