The sample size is small, but hope is huge.
Has John Elway finally found his franchise quarterback in Drew Lock after no fewer than six failed attempts since 2011?
Lock, who’s become a revelation and a rock star in Denver the past two weeks, was the sixth quarterback Elway has drafted as the team’s general manager and president of football operations.
Spoiler alert: The previous five — Brock Osweiler (second round), Zak Dysert (seventh) Trevor Siemian (seventh), Paxton Lynch (first) and Chad Kelly (seventh) — did not work out so well.
The six quarterbacks Elway has drafted since 2011 are tied with the Jets for the most in that span. In general, it’s not usually a good thing to be compared to the Jets in any statistical category.
Granted, a couple of these guys were late-round fliers, but still, everyone expected Elway, a Hall of Famer and multiple Super Bowl champion, to have a better eye for college quarterbacking talent than he’s displayed to date.
So, back to Lock …
“He’s a [bleeping] rock star,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller told reporters last Sunday after Lock went 22-of-27 for 309 yards, three touchdowns and a gaudy 136 passer rating in a 38-24 upset of the first-place Texans — a game Denver led 38-3.
Lock’s performance made him the first rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw for at least 300 yards and three TDs in his first start on the road. It was Lock’s second career start and second strong performance after throwing for two TDs in a 23-20 win over the Chargers the previous week.
After a failed 2018 season with veteran journeyman Case Keenum, Elway brought in former Ravens starter Joe Flacco this season. Just as Keenam did before him, Flacco failed to be a difference maker, going 2-6 as the starter with six TD passes, five interceptions and a pedestrian 85.1 passer rating before being placed on injured reserve with a herniated disc in his neck.
Flacco was initially replaced by Brandon Allen, who was even worse, going 1-2 while completing just 46.4 percent of his passes with three TDs, two INTs and a 68.3 rating.
Then, finally, came the turn of Lock, who was drafted out of Missouri with the 42nd-overall pick but was forced to miss the first half of the season with a hand injury. Lock has completed 72.7 percent of his passes with five TDs, two INTs and a 111.4 rating.
Along the way, he’s injected hope into a once-proud franchise that began the season 0-4 with a rookie head coach in Vic Fangio and was growing tired of the quarterback carousel.
When the Broncos play Sunday at Kansas City, it will have been 60 games since Manning retired after the 2016 season. It is possible these past two games are a harbinger of great — franchise quarterback — things to come in Denver?
Sunday’s second consecutive road game against yet another first-place team will provide everyone with more information about Lock.
Obviously, two games do not make a season or a career. But there’s more hope in Denver than there’s been since before Manning rode off into the sunset after winning Super Bowl 50.
“You’re always trying to find an answer to the quarterback position,” Elway told Mike Klis from Denver’s 9News. “You can’t wait till you don’t have one. We’ve been working on it and you’re always working on it. We feel good about what we have in Drew and his ability over the next couple years to continue to grow and make some strides.
“Hopefully, he’s that guy for the future.”