ENGLEWOOD — Drew Lock is no longer sneaking up on anyone. He boasts two starts, two wins, and one of the best rookie road performances in franchise history. Lock is no longer a secret. He has stats -- even if it's only two games -- and a eye-popping nickname in Buzz Lightyear. Yeah, the Chiefs could play the role of Lotso the grumpy bear this Sunday and throw a frozen blanket on this story. Lock wouldn't be the first Broncos quarterback to struggle at Arrowhead Stadium.
Anyone who has worn orange has. Regardless, Lock is not a surprise, and he never would have been in Kansas City. He lives 15 minutes from the Chiefs complex. His father, Andy Lock, played for Chiefs coach Andy Reid for one season at Missouri as an offensive lineman. The two remain in touch. It makes this week resonate more: Drew plays the role of homecoming king trying to foil his former favorite team.
"I am sure we will make too much of it. I have to approach it like any other game," Lock said a with a smile. "It's a cool thought. Especially, because I went to Mizzou, stayed at home and this is my first time (playing out of the state for another team). Going against a team in the division, having them there to go home and play the Chiefs and be in front of so many friends and family is cool."
Reid has long carved a reputation as an offensive mastermind. He knew of Drew's exploits at Lee's Summit High School, where Lock threw for 5,779 yards and 63 touchdowns in his final seasons. He watched some of his Missouri games, where Lock started for four seasons and became a top prospect. Reid told Broncos general manager John Elway that he liked the pick last spring, showing he wasn't afraid after missing on Paxton Lynch (who he didn't mention by name).
"Yeah, (Drew's) dad played for me at Missouri. He was a great athlete. He played offensive lineman. He could play quarterback and tight end. I coached him his senior year. So, I have kind of known about (Drew) for awhile. I think he’s done a great job. I am pulling for him," Reid said. "He’s done a heck of a job. I think it’s a great thing for the National Football League, these young quarterbacks."
Good for the league, right coach Vic Fangio?
"To hell with the league, it's good for the Broncos," said Fangio, who rightfully said it's too soon to say Lock and Patrick Mahomes will become a heated rivalry.
When talking with Lock a few weeks ago, I mentioned the idea of him playing in Kansas City. His eyes widened. He admitted there would be a lot of buzz -- this was before he had played a game -- but said, "I would love it." He expects 50 friends and family at the game, and hopes -- fingers crossed -- they will cheer for the Broncos. With film now available, the degree of difficulty will increase for Lock and Star Commander, offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. For reasons that baffle, the Chargers and Texans played predominantly man coverage. Look for the Chiefs to use more zone, disguise coverages and send pressure. Kansas City skunked Denver on Oct. 17, posting nine sacks, including eight of Joe Flacco.
That game served as the beginning of the end for Flacco, who looked old and immobile. The following week Flacco hurt his neck against the Colts -- he criticized the playcalling afterward -- and will not, barring a shocking upset, play another down for the Broncos. The Broncos are prepared to take the $13.6 million cap hit to save more than $20 million in paying his salary. There is cautious optimism that the Broncos have found their future in Lock.
He is athletic. He has a huge arm, and he can make plays when everything goes wrong with protection or his mechanics. It will be messy, of course. But that's part of microwaving his development heading into the offseason so the team can focus on adding a left tackle or receiver rather than a quarterback early in the draft. Lock will face a Kansas City defense that "embarrassed us," last time, admitted running back Phillip Lindsay. The Chiefs have won eight straight against the Broncos. Lock is the seventh quarterback since Peyton Manning. None of the previous six beat the Chiefs. Kansas City remains porous against the run, allowing a fifth-worst 138 yards per game, but has produced 13 interceptions, tied for third overall.
"We got our butts kicked. They handled their business and we didn't," Lindsay said. "We have to be aggressive and we have to be physical. Drew is bringing a lot of energy. It's fun. He just needs to stay level-headed, stay consistent and they need to let him do what he does best, sling the rock."
Broncos not practicing included Ron Leary (concussion), Ja'Wuan James (left knee), Noah Fant (foot), and Adam Gotsis. Coach Vic Fangio remains hopeful that James, Fant and Gotsis will play. ... Fangio is not a fan of the 17-game schedule, brought up again at the league meetings. He would prefer the league keep a 16-game schedule and play every conference team once with one game against a natural rivalry.