DENVER -- Broncos Country hangs on every snap every Sunday with the type of passion that is admirable, if a bit unhealthy.
There are those more acquainted with the players than members of their immediate family. As such, everyone, it seems, has an opinion on Drew Lock. They run the spectrum from he will reward patience in his second full season as the starter to veteran competition from someone like Andy Dalton is required to push or unseat Lock to it's time to move on.
The question arrived on Melvin Gordon's doorstep Wednesday. What does the running back, who leads the team in rushing and touchdowns, think of Lock?
"He is the piece that’s going to make or break it for us," Gordon said.
Gordon, as he is wont to do, elaborated, providing nuance to his statement. He likes Lock, sees his potential in practice. But after Gordon played with Philip Rivers with the Chargers, he understands the complexities to succeeding at the sport's most demanding position.
"He still has a lot to learn. I see him throwing the football everyday. He has got what it takes. It's the mental part of it," Gordon said. "He just needs to believe more in himself."
I found Gordon's explanation fascinating because of the juxtaposition. Lock never lacks confidence whether in his mannerisms or in his interviews. However, it has not manifested consistently into success. Lock acknowledged the importance of experience on Wednesday.
"I’ll always be confident in my ability. There’s confidence when you step out on the field, as well, and that’s been growing every single game for me," Lock said.
One of the reasons teammates like Lock is that he works hard, is relatable and coachable. Lock has always understood the pressure of this position with this organization. One thing driven home after 17 starts – he has an 8-9 record with 21 touchdowns and 18 interceptions – is how hard it is to reach goals. NFL quarterbacks are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, requiring a maniacal dedication and detailed approach on and off the field.
"Last year I thought I knew what I needed to do. But I really had no idea what I needed to do," Lock said.
It wasn't for a lack of trying. He talked with general manager John Elway and Peyton Manning, among others, to maximize his offseason. However, a new offensive coordinator and the elimination of OTAs and preseason effectively prevented a jump in performance. That's no excuse as others around the league have thrived.
It raises the question: Will a normal offseason give Lock the necessary boost or is Lock simply a streaky player regardless of the system and preparation?
He has not been guaranteed the job going into the offseason -- Lock is tied for the league-lead with 15 picks and has a turnover in 11 straight games -- but is prepared to roll up his sleeves to cement his status.
"Nothing is set in stone as is the case every year in the NFL. I think the biggest thing with having these games under my belt is going back and watching them this offseason, seeing what my tendencies are, where my incompletions are, on my bad plays is there something consistent with all of my picks?" Lock explained.
"I'll watch the division. You win the division and you are pretty well set. Just a lot of things. Unlike last year I had a small sample size. Now, I have a solid foundation of what I feel like I need to do this offseason, how to get better, how to take those couple of more steps to becoming a really good quarterback in this league."
Bradley Chubb (ankle), Shelby Harris (knee) and K.J. Hamler (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday. All are in doubt to play in the season finale. ...
The statistics tell the story of the Broncos' struggling offense. They rank 27th in third down conversions at 38.2 percent, 28th in passing yards per game (208.5) and 29th in points (19.5). ...
Gordon said he hopes he's done enough to return next season because "there is something special here." Gordon faces a potential three-game suspension for a DUI arrest. That could impact guarantees in his contract, and it could lead to the Broncos cutting ties after one season. While Gordon struggled early, he has been one of the Broncos' best players over the past seven games. He has rushed for 506 yards on 93 carries -- a 5.44 average -- during this stretch and leads the Broncos with nine touchdowns for the season. ....