As ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold reported, in just four short weeks, rookie quarterback Drew Lock
has seen all parts of the drawing board.
First career NFL start? Check.
First career NFL road start? Check.
First career NFL hometown start, first NFL blizzard and first pass rush really intent on rattling both his sensibilities and bones? Check, three times over.
And now first comeback win? Check.
Sunday's 27-17 victory over the Detroit Lions moved the Broncos to 6-9. The team has gone 3-1 in Lock's first four starts, and the second-round pick has been given a rather complete look at where his game is now and what he needs to do to improve.
"I would say ... I think this was a necessary trip that I'm going on right now," Lock said. " ... Go back and think about having a picture-perfect script for me in these last games, obviously the loss in Kansas City isn't that, but getting me as much experience as possible going into the next year where I can be the guy and say that I have certain experiences from this year that I can take into next year. I think that was big for my development and I think big for this program too."
Lock is the seventh different quarterback to start a game for the Broncos since Week 8 of the 2017 season. The Broncos have missed the playoffs four consecutive seasons and need a win over the Oakland Raiders in tomorrow's regular-season finale to avoid three consecutive seasons with double-digit losses for the first time since the 1960s.
Still, head coach Vic Fangio said Monday the team is "looking" for Lock to be the franchise's quarterback of the future.
"He's done enough to show he definitely could be the guy, and we're looking for that to be the case," Fangio said.
"He's going out there and he's proving himself," running back Phillip Lindsay
of Lock said after Sunday's win. "He's calm, cool and collected, and he understands what he needs to work on and what he's good at. The thing is, he can move out of the pocket and he's a game-changer. ... All I can say for Drew is, he's doing a hell of a job and he's going to only get better."
Many details are still to be worked out, such as Flacco's status, given that he has two years left on his contract, and the fact that Broncos president of football operations John Elway hasn't yet weighed in. (Elway has the final say on the franchise's football decisions.)
Asked Monday what he wants to see from Lock in the season finale Sunday against the Raiders, Fangio said: "Just more good play, which he's done for the most part. But I think he's capable of more. Just being consistent. He's played good, but I think he can play better."
In his four starts, Lock is 83-of-128 passing (64.8 percent) for 843 yards to go with six touchdowns and three interceptions.
Meanwhile, it's worth noting Oakland is a mess in the defensive backfield with Daryl Worley forced to help out at injury-plagued safety and with rookie Trayvon Mullen expected to miss Week 17 after suffering a neck injury on Sunday. According to ESPN's Mike Clay, that should mean a lot of reserves Nevin Lawson and Keisean Nixon on the perimeter and Lamarcus Joyner in the slot.
Oakland has been beat up by perimeter receivers all season along, allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to the position, including the ninth-most over the past month.
(80 percent perimeter) and Tim Patrick
(74 percent) should both be upgraded significantly. Patrick was out for the first meeting between these teams, but Sutton (7-120-0 receiving line) and Emmanuel Sanders
(5-86-1) both had big games.
Adding to the positive vibes here, DaeSean Hamilton
caught all six of his targets for 65 yards and one touchdown against Detroit on Sunday.
Despite the big game, Clay doesn't view Hamilton as a reliable fantasy option tomorrow. Hamilton entered the game having failed to clear 13 receiving yards in seven of his previous eight games. In fact, the second-year slot receiver totaled 13 yards on nine targets just last week against the Chiefs.
The touchdown was his first of the season. Hamilton has caught 23 of 46 targets in 15 games and can be left on waivers.
That said, Oakland's defense that has yielded 2.47 points per drive to opponents, with only the Dolphins (2.54) ceding more this season. According to ESPN.com’s Jim McCormick, given Oakland's utter lack of pass rush (ranked 29th in pressuring opposing passers
), Lock could exceed expectations at home for the season finale and that could yield dividends for all his targets.