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Broncos mailbag: First letter says give Lock more time

Second letter states frustration with same old stuff.
Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio looks on against the Kansas City Chiefs during a football game, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Denver.

DENVER — Nothing fills up the Broncos mailbag like an ugly loss to an AFC West rival. The envelopes, please …

 I enjoy your commentary every day. My take on Drew Lock (being a 30-year football coach) is that he misses Courtland Sutton. Noah Fant is just getting back. I believe he had several TDs when they were in the lineup. Throw in the TD drops in the last couple of weeks and his stats would be better.

The bottom line is that he does need to get better. It’s not going to happen overnight. Give him time. If after more games he is not progressing then we can all panic. Being a lifelong Broncos fan I remember Elway. Everyone needs to take a deep breath. He will get better.

Keep up the good work!

--Don Story, Cortez/Dolores CO.

 Don –  Good take. A measured, mature response from a coach who no doubt understands that a player’s development doesn’t always come along as you draw it up.

I looked up Lock’s splits. He’s quite good on second down plays, completing 26 of 35 passes for a 74.3 percentage and a 99.7 passer rating. That shows there is something there.

The problem is on third down where Lock is only 10 of 29 for an unsightly 34.5 completion percentage and 26.4 rating. And that’s not a third-and-long problem. He’s just 1 of 9 passing on third down and between 4-6 yards to go (per Pro Football Reference).

A bigger problem: Sutton is not coming back. It’s become increasingly apparent the Broncos cannot replace their No. 1 receiving talent.

I can pinpoint problems, Don, but it’s up to Lock and good coaches like you to resolve it. He does need more time. I think he’ll play much better this Sunday against the Chargers and the following week at Atlanta.

Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) looks on against the Kansas City Chiefs during a football game, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Denver.

I have made an observation about this year's Bronco team - it looks like the same BS from 2, 3 years ago - I do not see a difference between the Fangio and Joseph era.

Mr. B would never allowed this to happen - it seems losing is now acceptable with this organization - I never thought I would see that.

 --Robert Hoffman, Brush

Robert – I understand your frustration. But just because the team is in a funk not experienced since the first half of the Phipps’ brothers’ era in the early 1970s doesn’t mean the organization or its leaders accept losing.

Pat Bowlen’s last  big decisions for the Broncos before he stepped away were to promote Joe Ellis to team president and hire John Elway as general manager.

With Ellis and Elway in charge, the Broncos won five AFC West Division titles in five years, made two Super Bowl appearances and won it all once.

These last five seasons have been far below Broncos’ standards. Not accepting losing, they have gone through four head coaches – Gary Kubiak replaced John Fox; when Kubiak stepped down for health reasons he was replaced by Vance Joseph; and when Joseph’s two seasons didn’t work out the Broncos brought in Vic Fangio.

Bad as its been, there have been signs of progress – from 5-11 in 2017 to 6-10 in 2018 and then 7-9. We’ll see what happens after this 16-game season plays out. The projection for this team was 7-9, 8-8 or 9-7. When mediocre teams become devastated by injuries -- as the Broncos have been with the season-ending losses to Von Miller, Courtland Sutton and Jurrell Casey -- it becomes a sub-mediocre team.

That does not excuse the Broncos’ embarrassing performances in their last two home games – a 28-10 loss to Tampa Bay and 43-16 clobbering by the Chiefs.

Luckily for the Broncos only 5,700 fans were permitted to watch those fiascos in person. But let’s see how they finish. Their schedule softens considerably these next three weeks.   

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio walks the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

Mike, in your opinion, is Patrick Mahomes as special if he’s not with Andy Reid in KC? Say the Bears drafted Mahomes instead of Mitch Trubisky at No. 2 that year?

--Todd Allerdings

Todd – I think Mahomes would still be a good, young, rising quarterback in the NFL without Andy Reid. But he would not be the best quarterback we’ve seen play if not for Reid.

Reid is a beautiful mind who is in charge of an aesthetically pleasing offensive system that is operated by a quarterback who plays with a dazzling style.

Mahomes still would have been better for the Bears than Trubisky, though, because he has a considerably better arm and throws with much greater accuracy. And Bears coach Matt Nagy, remember, was Mahomes’ offensive coordinator during his rookie season of 2017.

More succinctly: Mahomes would have played well for any coach. Reid would have, and has been, a good coach for many quarterbacks. But together, Mahomes and Reid are the quarterback-coach combo since Shanahan and Elway or Walsh and Montana.

Credit: AP Photo/Justin Edmonds
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) smiles as he runs off the field after defeating the Denver Broncos in 43-16 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct.. 25, 2020, in Denver.

This squad dishonors the history. They should be called the DENVER BROKENS. 

Just my two cents.

Regards,

--Mark Miller

Mark – Dishonor is a tad strong, maybe, but the Broncos’ remarkable four-decade run of success works against them in times of decline.

In the 41-year span that ran from the start of 1976 season through the end of 2016, the Broncos had more Super Bowl appearances (8) than losing seasons (6).

A phenomenal run that bled into their ongoing sharp descent. Starting with the final six games of the 2016 season, the Broncos have gone 22-38.

I will give the current Broncos coaches and players credit – they are aware of their team’s strong tradition. They are also frustrated that collectively they have failed to uphold it in recent seasons.

Mike,

Thanks for responding to my letter. It's great to converse with a fellow Clemente fan.

Also good to see Joe Willie back. He looks at home behind you.

P.S. By the way, I was a big fan of the 1969 Mets. I saw Seaver's one hitter against the Durocher Cubs at Shea in July of 1969. Spoiled by a bloop single with one out in the ninth. The Mets were leading 4-0 in the top of the ninth, when Durocher had his catcher bunt to try and spoil the perfect no hitter. (Quite a manager). Seaver threw him out.

Go Broncos

--Bill Moore

Bill – Had to take my Namath print down from my home studio background when the Broncos played the Jets. No sense inciting the critic's critics unnecessarily. Believed it was safe to restore to its proper position after the Broncos beat the Patriots.

I'm a lifelong Cubs fan, as you know, Bill, but I couldn't resist buying that Clemente print when I was in a downtown Pittsburgh art shop one day during a Rockies' road trip. I would have preferred a painting of Clemente rounding second -- helmet, legs and arms flying -- on his way to third. Or of him whirling to whip from right. Vintage Clemente poses.

Still, I'm glad I bought it. Marriage and kids put an end to my art collection years ago. It can be an expensive hobby.  

It was the immortal Jimmy Qualls, by the way, who got the single to spoil Seaver’s perfect game with one out in the 9th on July 9 at Shea Stadium. I remember it as a line drive to left, not a bloop.

It was Cubs catcher Randy Hundley who led off the ninth and was out pitcher to first.

The Cubs were still leading the division by 3.5 games after that Seaver gem and they were a robust 9 games up through August 19 and game 119.

What happened in those final 43 games left bitter hatred towards the Mets, although let’s consider the publishing of your letter to be my first therapeutic step in putting the 1969 collapse behind me. Here it's only been 51 years and I'm starting to feel better already.

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