Through the first seven weeks of the season, Joe Flacco's first year in Denver hasn't exactly been a successful one, but despite his struggles, don't look for him to be replaced by rookie quarterback Drew Lock anytime soon.
The biggest reason Lock won't be taking over at any point in the near future is because he's still on injured reserve. The rookie sprained his thumb during the preseason and due to his placement on IR, he can't return to the Broncos' active roster until Week 11 at the earliest. However, once Lock is allowed to return, don't look for him to take Flacco's job, and that's because the team doesn't think that he's ready.
During his weekly interview with KOA in Denver, Broncos general manager John Elway made it clear that Lock isn't going to play until he's ready and he's just simply not ready.
"I will say this: The most important thing for a young quarterback is not to put him out there before he's ready," Elway said, via The Athletic. "So that is the most important thing and if he's not ready, we're not going to put him out there. That is the key thing. And as you know dealing with quarterbacks, it's a very tough thing because if you don't put him in a situation where he has a chance to be successful and if he's not successful, the whole roof will cave in. So we have to make sure that Drew is ready when he does get in there, if he does get in there."
During training camp, Broncos coach Vic Fangio gave a brutally honest assessment of Lock, saying that the second-round pick isn't a "QB yet." Apparently, not much has changed over the past three months.
"He is not ready to go right now, I will tell you that," Elway said.
Once Lock is healthy, the Broncos are going to have an interesting decision on their hands. Including Lock, they have a total of four players on injured reserve: tight end Jake Butt, receiver Tim Patrick and running back Theo Riddick. Under NFL rules, the Broncos will only be allowed to activate two players from IR, which means two of those guys are done for the season, even if they don't know it yet.
If they have no plans to play Lock, they could simply keep him on IR. However, it would seem to make more sense to activate him so that they could potentially get him some playing time late in the season after the 2-5 Broncos get eliminated from the playoff race.
As for Elway, he actually has a personal reason for keeping Lock on the bench at this point in his career. Like Lock, Elway was once a rookie quarterback, and the Hall of Famer feels that sitting on the bench can actually do a rookie some good. As a matter of fact, Elway actually got benched for four weeks during his rookie year in 1983.
"Really the four games I was benched, I learned a hell of a lot more than in the four games I played just because it's such a big step," Elway said. "Then Steve DeBerg got hurt and it gave me a second chance that year, so I was able to come back and had a different viewpoint of it after I sat for those four games."
Although plenty of rookie quarterbacks do end up starting during their first year in the NFL, it doesn't sound like Elway will ever be doing that with one his quarterbacks.
"It's always good for them to see what it's all about and the step that it takes instead of throwing them right into the fire, because very few of these guys have a lot of success early," Elway said. "They're going to take their lumps. As I did and as most quarterbacks do, they're going to take their lumps, and they have to be able to withstand that, and they got to be able to withstand the negative stuff that's going to come with the part that he continues to get better."
Of course, it might be time for Elway to rethink his strategy and that's because none of the quarterbacks he's drafted have really panned out.