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Opinion: Brett Rypien deserves another start

While Drew Lock Watch ticks, Rypien should not immediately be benched after his first NFL start resulted in 0 sacks, 37 points and a victory.
Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien (4) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Brett Rypien has done enough for the Broncos to like him.

Love him? Love is an intense feeling of affection for someone or something that takes time to grow. If there is such a thing as love at first sight, it’s only for first- or second-round draft picks.

Rypien was undrafted last year, although it is significant that he’s now ahead of veterans Jeff Driskel and Blake Bortles on the quarterback depth chart. This is a clear sign the Broncos are warming up to Rypien.

The team’s love, though, is reserved for Drew Lock.

“I understand my role,’’ Rypien said this week. “This is Drew Lock’s team.’’

True as that is, there should be zero consideration for anyone other than Rypien to be the Broncos’ starting quarterback Monday at New England. Perhaps it’s only gamesmanship that the Broncos are not dismissing the possibility of Lock playing.

Lock has practiced this week and taken a few reps. Rypien has taken far more practice snaps, at least through Thursday, but there could still be a chance Vic Fangio, John Elway, Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula have seen enough to decide Lock is healthy enough to play. And if it’s determined he can play, he’d start.

But not a big chance.

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There is no reason to hurry Lock – the man the team loves – back from the strained rotator cuff to his right throwing shoulder he suffered three weeks ago when Rypien deserves a second start.

There are two statistics that say Rypien should start against the Patriots, who figure to counter with either Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham.

The first: The Broncos took a combined 13 sacks in games 2 and 3, but zero sacks in Rypien’s first NFL start in game 4 against the New York Jets. That stat demonstrates Rypien’s ability to make quick decisions.

The second stat: After scoring 14, 21 and 10 points in their first three games, the Broncos scored 37 in Rypien’s lone start. And that’s with throwing three interceptions. There were no defensive turnover gifts in setting up any of those points. All 37 were guided by Rypien.

There’s actually a third stat that can’t be ignored: The results of the Broncos first three games were loss, loss, loss. In Rypien’s one start, the outcome was victory.

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Want to blame the hapless and still winless Jets for Rypien’s success? The Jets didn’t allow 37 points in any of their first three defeats to the Bills, 49ers and Colts. And they were tied for 16th -- smack dab in the middle of the league -- with 6 sacks through three games.

The Jets can rush the passer. It’s just that against Rypien, they got there late.

Granted no quarterback can be properly judged by one start alone. But there appears to be an intelligence about Rypien’s game, a savvy that is worth exploring at least for a second start.

And then the Broncos can bring back a more fully recovered Lock for next week’s game against the Dolphins.

“Drew Lock has been the leader of this franchise for the past year and he’s done an unbelievable job at that,’’ Rypien said. “From my standpoint, I have to do what I can to help him and help this team win. And if that means playing this week and helping our team win this week, that’s what I’m focused on.

“I don’t really look at it from a standpoint of him taking an opportunity away from me. I look at it like I’m getting an opportunity, and if he comes back, then that’s an opportunity for me to help him.”

Not sure anyone believes this is possible but what happens if Rypien beats the Patriots? Then Lock will still start against the Dolphins. But the team will begin to fall for Rypien enough to make him the backup over Driskel and Bortles.

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