ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As speculation swirled around Denver this offseason, Drew Lock went to work.
As drive-time radio programs debated the merits of different veteran quarterbacks, Lock dove into film from his performance last year.
As beat writers called for the Broncos to draft Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones in the first round of the NFL Draft, Lock scrutinized his footwork and reworked his body.
For months and months, there was constant and endless chatter about the quarterback position — and Lock tuned it all out.
“I decided that I was going to develop a plan this offseason,” Lock said Monday after the first practice of OTAs. “It was going to be really long days, but it was going to be worth every single second of it because regardless of what happened, if I stayed here, I left or they brought someone in, my mindset was not going to change wherever I went. If I went somewhere or if I stayed here, I was going to be the guy. I put every single ounce [into] that this offseason. Being able to do that gave me zero time to listen to all of this stuff. Maybe I’ll go back one day, read and laugh about things that were being said by people who ended up being completely wrong.”
Lock also stayed largely silent, as his conversation on Monday was the first time he’d spoken with the media in several months. As other players around the league made the rounds on radio shows, Lock spent time working with Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and dedicated himself to improving his game.
“There was a lot of people that came into this,” Lock said. “Maybe one day I’ll write a book about it, but as of right now just know there were a lot of things that went into this. A lot of people helped me that I’ll forever be grateful to. Early mornings, making sure that I was getting into the habit of waking up at the same time and starting my day at the same time, working on a routine. Early film before Zoom meetings, Zoom meetings, coming to lift, working in the afternoon, coming home, taking a script, taking plays that I didn’t like from last year, drawing them in the basement, coming out, throwing with the guys in the afternoon and coming back and finishing more film.
“Just Groundhog Day over and over again. There was a lot work that went into it.”
As Lock did his best Bill Murray impression, he was unbothered by the speculation. Close friends and family didn’t bother him with the latest rumor and only filled him in if a teammate had offered their support.
“I would like to think the reason no one has said anything to me is because they are probably the really close people to me in my life and they understand that it’s no worth their time either,” Lock said. “Whatever happens, happens. They know I’m working hard, and that’s all they’re concerned about. Not what’s being said here, what’s being said there, what’s being said here. If anyone did say something to me, I think it was a zero text back or no call back because they probably weren’t in my really tight circle and there was no need for me to respond.”
Instead of wasting energy worrying about an uncontrollable circumstance, Lock spent time in his basement, where he was able to work on his drops away from a harsh Denver winter. And because the Broncos retained the same offensive staff, he was able to watch and then replicate the same plays that he ran a year ago.
Lock appeared to gain comfort down the stretch, as he posted a 7-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and turned the corner after a tough game in Las Vegas.
“I started to adapt a little bit,” Lock said. “Even [Offensive Coordinator Pat] Shurmur and [Quarterbacks] Coach [Mike] Shula were getting more comfortable with me and what it is I’m good at. I said it a couple of times last year where some of the plays we were running we got a couple of reps in practice, maybe one in training camp, and it was all of us out there’s first time running it on a Sunday. They got more comfortable with what I liked. I got more comfortable with some things that maybe wouldn’t have been my favorite plays at the beginning of the year, but sure enough turned out to be a really good play in my mind.
“We just started rolling, started clicking and it’s crazy what you see with quarterbacks developing when you get more time.”
As OTAs begin, the speculation has — at least partially — died down. Lock will compete with Teddy Bridgewater for the job, and he’ll aim to prove that he can continue to make the big plays while avoiding the big mistake.
The first snaps of 7-on-7 work, though, would’ve meant little without the offseason that preceded them. Lock embraced the grind and could now reap the benefits.
“After doing it, there is zero doubt in my mind that I would like to do this for the rest of my life,” Lock said. “That is a lot of the reason why I went into this. I want this team to be good. I want myself to be really good, but I wanted nothing to be able to look back on with regret. I was going to give everything I had this offseason — [and] the offseasons before, but especially this one — to be able to come in and help this team get to the playoffs and help this city come back. It was a rough year with COVID. Being at games and a lot of stuff got thrown our way, I took all of that from last year, put it into this one offseason plan to be able to get a little bit of fire behind this city and this team to get this team back to where it needs to be.”