DENVER — The Trans-Siberian Orchestra blared in the parking lot. The lights blinked to the bass. And just outside my car window Tuesday night, an electric snowman shimmied his arms to the beat.
Christmas in Color at WaterWorld brought a fleeting sense of normalcy to the holidays. Watching the Broncos, as fans remind me on Twitter and Facebook every day, has not.
Wake Broncos Country when the ball drops in Times Square.
After watching the Broncos clinch their fourth straight season without a winning record, it’s fair to wonder what the future holds. The past two weeks have been littered with losses, one without a quarterback, dueling statements about the ownership situation, and starting cornerback A.J. Bouye suspended six games for PED use.
Can it get worse? Well, if Drew Lock and Jerry Jeudy don’t play better, the answer is yes. The Broncos have a young offense that needed OTAs and two preseason games to learn coordinator Pat Shurmur’s system. It’s not an excuse, but a reason. But this is the NFL, where opponents are less forgiving than Spandex.
Lock has been unable to gain traction, showing flashes of brilliance, but unable to resist the temptation to take chances with the ball. He ranks last in completion percentage (55.4), second in interceptions (13) and 27th in touchdowns (9). The player in front of him in accuracy and picks was Carson Wentz. The Eagles benched him last week, and he lost his job to rookie Jalen Hurts. The Broncos are not considering sitting Lock, but it reveals the depth of his struggles in his first full season as a starter.
The former Missouri star understands the growing impatience from fans and media, fair or not, as he owns a 7-7 career record with the same number of touchdowns (16) as picks (16).
“Everybody wants everything really fast. We want it right now. We get that with our phones. You click on an app and it pops up instantly. It’s the same thing in football. You want greatness really, really fast. I want it. Trust me, I want to be great as much as the people at home want it. I want it more than they want it,” said Lock, who has thrown interceptions in seven straight games.
“It’s about me finding ways throughout the week to keep getting better, and it’s going to happen. It’s slowly happening. We are going to make a big jump this week. I am trying everything I can to keep this thing rolling.”
The Broncos want to see consistency over the final four games, not one good play followed by a turnover, not one game followed by a clunker. Lock has yet to win back-to-back starts this season after going 4-1 as a rookie.
It’s hard to imagine the team not bringing in competition either through a trade or the draft. And based on previous offseasons, the Broncos could pursue a veteran starter like Matthew Stafford, having traveled that road with less accomplished veterans Joe Flacco and Case Keenum.
It hasn’t helped the Broncos offense that receiver Jerry Jeudy has fallen into a slump. Part of it was not his fault — no receivers had a chance against the Saints. However, he was unable to win matchups against the Dolphins and Chiefs. His frustration bubbled over after the Chiefs loss when he had no targets in the first half, four for the game and one catch.
“At least I got my conditioning in,” Jeudy tweeted with a shrugging emoji immediately afterward before deleting the social media message.
I asked coach Vic Fangio if he saw the post, and what he thinks is going on with Jeudy.
“i don’t think he’s hit the wall. I just think he would like to have more catches. I don’t know of any receiver that doesn’t feel that way. I am glad he’s frustrated he’s not getting more production. We want our guys to feel that way,” Fangio said. “I don’t know what he said or didn’t say on Twitter. I am OK with Jerry. Jerry’s in a good spot.”
Lock had no issue with Jeudy. He wants him more involved if the coverage allows for it.
“You want a receiver who wants the ball, wants to make plays. That’s what we like about Jerry. He wants the ball in any situation, in the beginning of the game and crunch time,” Lock said. “People play him a certain way. You go throughout the game and make reads and sometimes you don’t get to him. Sometimes he might have been the second read. It’s how the game flows. I know he’s learning that now as a receiver in this league.”
Jeudy’s stats became a victim of a quarterback-free offense against the Saints. But the Dolphins and Chiefs put their best corners on him and bracketed him in coverage at times. Opponents seem comfortable letting Tim Patrick beat them, and forcing the Broncos to use 10-to-12 play drives to lumber down the field.
Jeudy has been muted, leaving him no longer on pace to break Eddie Royal’s franchise rookie record of 981 yards receiving. Jeudy projects for 792 yards after he had 13 targets and four catches for 42 yards over the past three games. In the previous three, Lock targeted him 30 times for 14 receptions, 230 yards and one touchdown.
“There are times it’s tough to get the ball once in a while,” Lock said. “It’s about fighting through those games, going into the next one thinking you are going to get 15 balls, and being ready for that.”
Broncos defensive back Will Parks met the media with his usual Red Bull energy. He said he felt disrespected when the Eagles cut him, but was “overwhelmed by the love” of Broncos Country in his return to Denver. Parks remained in a group chat with the secondary even after he left so he feels up to speed with the defense. …
Right guard Graham Glasgow did not practice because of a foot injury. …
Cornerback A.J. Bouye’s future with the Broncos is uncertain after the league suspended him six games for PED use. He is an NFL player, but whether there’s a fit in Denver is unclear after he was limited to seven games in what Fangio called a “choppy season.” …
Former Broncos star DeMarus Ware launched his Driven 2 Win fitness app on Wednesday. If you search “D2W Fitness by DeMarcus Ware” or “D2W Fitness” it should show up in app store. It boasts advanced 3D visualization and augmented reality. The app features specialized workouts with likes of Von Miller and Chris Harris. There’s more info at driventowin.com.