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The Spy: What Is the Key to The Lock? Drew Lock, That Is.

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Welcomde to a new edition of “The Spy”. In this column, we aim to delve deeply into a subject matter of an upcoming opponents’ team that may be worthy of exploring in detail.

This week, we will focus on the fulcrum of the Denver Bronco offense: Drew Lock. Lock has been a consistent model of inconsistency, which is somewhat normal for young starting QB in the NFL. Having dealt with minor injuries and this year (a viral & embarrassing COVID controversy) Lock has been a sort of “roller-coaster” quarterback.

That said, his quarterback play is dangerous, perhaps as much to his own team as the opponents, and yet, he has demonstrated an unrefined ability to control the offense and dictate the tempo of play. Earlier in the week on WGR 550, Denver Broncos insider, Benjamin Albright, compared Drew Locks’ attitude of quarterbacking to the “Hero-Ball,” mentality displayed by Josh Allen early in his career. 

Note that Lock is fresh off the best game of his career, posting four touchdowns and no interceptions in the process, though he did lose a fumble. Let’s further analyze the composition of this signal-caller.

SPY 1: Go Deep or Bust

Drew lock throws the deep pass far more than any other QB in the NFL. He does have an array of weapons to which these deep throws can be completed to even with standout Courtland Sutton injured (will be OUT for this weeks’ game). 

The deep pass is a low percentage play, plain and simple. This is to say that it is both risky and unlikely to yield success often. If deep passes are not working, it would be wise to adjust the approach accordingly. Drew Lock, however, seems to have missed this memo as he is ranked LAST of all qualified quarterbacks in deep-ball passing according to PFF. On these types of plays, Lock posts a 27.3% completion percentage and a passer rating of just 55. Shockingly, Drew Lock ranks 1st in passes of 20+ yards. The opportunistic and refined Buffalo secondary will surely key on these tendencies come game time. 

Lastly, the deep ball takes time to develop. The quarterback needs this time to read the dynamics of the play, as it develops and to allow the receivers to run their routes. This is an important factor in this game against the Bills because the elite Broncos OL Garrett Bolles may be fighting through an injury. 

SPY 2: Enigmatic Inconsistency

How often and in how many contexts have we heard the phrase: “Take the good with the bad”? Surely this is not the phrase you want most associated with your Quarterback, though it seems to be exactly the type of play that Lock most frequently exhibits. This could be evidenced by his 13 touchdowns AND 13 interceptions, or by his shaky throwing mechanics, or yet still by his inability to throw “catchable passes” to his receivers. The talented rookie WR of Alabama, Jerry Jeudy, has some of the lowest numbers of catchable passes thrown to him in the league. 

SPY 3: Lock’s Violence of Action

A major strength of Drew Lock’s game (and one the Bills will have to limit) is Lock’s propensity and ability to become extremely aggressive. Though this aggression can cause problems, it can also lead to explosive plays and momentum shifts. This is the type of aggression that may lead Lock to believe he can target receivers in the vicinity of Bills All-Pro Tre’Davious White whenever he should wish to do so. “Brave, but… Foolish, I’m Afraid.” – Count Dooku 

When Lock gets into a rhythm, he can and will carve a defense and thus score both quickly and decisively. Look for the Bills defense to force Lock to play off-script and off-balance to limit this aggression. 

SPY 4: Lock’s Dimensions of Passing

Drew lock has a curious and important tendency that can, and likely has, given the Bills defense a “tell.” Lock almost always and only targets his receivers and tight ends. Neither of the Broncos’ main RBs, Melvin Gordon and Philip Lindsay, are particularly renowned for their pass catching prowess on designed throws or improvised ones. This 2020 season has exposed ball security issues for Gordon as well, which could further limit his opportunities to catch passes if Lock feels he is or will be in a vulnerable position after the catch. 

Because of Lock’s unrefined mechanics in the throw, the ball has a release point which is simply not conducive to accuracy. This affects passes at all depths and ranges and seems to present more problems against zone defenses especially, which the Bills play a TON of. The main reason why this inaccuracy is dangerous is that the studied Bills secondary will have opportunities to anticipate throws, jump routes for break-ups/interceptions and stay on top of routes. 

Verdict & Attack Strategy Possibilities

Look for the Bills linebackers to confuse Drew Lock and attack him with precise but intense zone blitz packages. 

Look for Bills secondary to eliminate the deep ball with their zone coverage and to attempt to corral Bronco WRs to the outside where Lock’s passes travel the least and are mostly wildly inaccurate.

DARKHORSE BONUS POINT

Broncos TE, Noah Fant, is a BEAST. He must be kept in check. He has the athletic ability and cerebral killer-instinct to make game-altering plays. This season, the Bills have done a good job taking away the opponents’ best weapons well in most cases. Let us hope we see our team do the same once again, in doing so WINNING THE AFC EAST FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 25 YEARS!

In Closing, please follow The Buffalo Fanatics on all platforms, trust the process, and GO BILLS.

Let us know in comments sections what you think of “The Spy” column.  

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