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Drew Lock failed a test on Sunday, continuing a disturbing trend

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Heading into the 2020 season, there was really only one goal for the Broncos. They needed to find out if Drew Lock was their long-term answer at quarterback.

After posting a 4-1 record as a starter during his rookie season, there were plenty of reasons to be excited about the young gunslinger. But a larger sample size was needed to determine if Lock was anything more than a flash in the pan.

Thus far, the results have been mixed. At best.

If the 2020 season is a series of tests, Lock hasn’t put up very good marks. He’s struggling to put up passing grades.

He had a C+ game in the opener against the Titans, as Denver lost on a late field goal. He was given an incomplete against the Steelers, as a shoulder injury knocked him from the game early. And he had another C-level performance against the Patriots, leading the Broncos to a win, but failing to get his team into the end zone in the process.

Yesterday, however, in what was his toughest test of the season, Lock was a disaster. It was his worst performance as a pro, deserving of a big, fat F on the quarterback’s report card.

Statistically, Lock wasn’t terrible in Denver’s 43-16 loss to Kansas City. He finished the day 24-of-40 for 254 yards, which looks decent on paper. But he threw a pair of interceptions, including a costly pick-six, and anyone who watched the game knew that the numbers don’t represent the ugliness.

Time after time, Lock failed to find open receivers. In the first half, when the Broncos defense was keeping them in the game, Denver’s offense sputtered. Largely, this was due to their quarterback failing to throw the ball to the right spot. He’d force a deep pass into triple coverage rather than hitting Noah Fant for an easy 15-yard completion across the middle of the field, one of many poor decisions.

Lock also was wildly inaccurate when he did make the right read. Footballs sailed over the heads of his receivers on multiple occasions, as the quarterback was off target with multiple throws. Plays that should’ve been easy connections turned into incompletions, halting drives in their tracks.

While the final score was lopsided, the Broncos had a chance to compete with the Chiefs on Sunday. And if Lock had been good, if he’d had a breakout-type game, they might’ve even pulled the upset. Instead, they got blown out by Kansas City. Again.

Does this mean Lock is a bust? Is this evidence that he’s not the quarterback of the future?

Of course not. It was one game. It was one test. That needs to be remembered.

Lock has only started nine games in the NFL. He’s going to have ups and downs. At the start of the year, everyone knew that the quarterback would have some stinkers. Sunday was one of those games.

That said, a bad pattern is starting to develop. Lock hasn’t been good all season.

Against Tennessee, he only managed to put 14 points on the board. Before leaving against Pittsburgh, he failed to lead the Broncos to any points. Last week, Denver posted six field goals against New England. And in the loss to Kansas City, he only put up 16.

In three full games, the Lock-led offense is averaging 16 points. In 13 quarters of play, he’s posted just 48 points.

To make matters worse, his replacements have performed better. Jeff Driskel put up 21 on the Steelers, nearly leading the Broncos to a comeback win. And Brett Rypien lit up the scoreboard in his lone start, hanging 37 points on the lowly Jets.

Those are some troubling trends. It’s why a poor performance against the Chiefs is concerning. It’s why Lock has to bounce back next week and have a good showing against the Chargers.

A young quarterback is allowed some bad games. That’s fair. But those have to be offset with some bright spots. That’s reality.

And thus far, in a season that has been a disappointment, Lock hasn’t had many bright moments. That’s why Broncos Country should be wondering if he’s the long-term answer at quarterback.

Drew Lock failed a test on Sunday. And he’s struggled most of the season. It’s a trend that desperately needs to come to an end.