Will Broncos finally turn to Drew Lock after another bad offensive outing?

The Denver Broncos lost 20-3 to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, failing to enter the red zone and gaining only 134 yards from scrimmage.

Broncos QB Brandon Allen — announced as a surprise starter three weeks ago after the Joe Flacco injury — struggled against the Bills, completing 10 of 25 passes for 82 yards and an interception.

After halftime Allen completed only three of his 14 pass attempts for a net of 4 yards. Over those three starts, Allen has completed only 39 of his 86 passes, good for 46.4 percent.

Yikes.

The Broncos’ TD-less streak is now at six quarters after blowing the 20-0 lead at Minnesota last week. They have not scored more than 24 points all season. There are some intriguing offensive weapons in Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and Phillip Lindsey, but they’re being held back by the lack of passing efficiency.

Does this mean we might finally see 2019 second-rounder Drew Lock get a chance with the Broncos going nowhere at 3-8 and the season dwindling to a close?

“I haven’t thought about it yet,” Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said after Sunday’s loss.

He needs to hurry up and think about it.

Drew Lock has had to be patient, but the Denver Broncos need to find out what their second-round pick can do this season. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The clock is ticking on Drew Lock playing this season

Lock missed the regular season to this point with a thumb injury after it appeared he won the backup job to Flacco during the preseason. The injury has derailed Lock’s rookie season, forcing the Broncos to go to Allen.

League rules require that the Broncos activate Lock off injured reserve this coming week if he’s going to play this season. He has been allowed to practice the past two weeks, so Lock has been getting reps.

There’s a chance the Broncos could make a move this week and get Lock up for next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Denver technically doesn’t have to make a move on Lock until the end of the week as a way of keeping the Chargers guessing who the starter might be.

Maybe Allen gets the start next week, Lock is elevated to QB2 and then he gets his first real shot against the Houston Texans in Week 14. But it should happen at some point. Otherwise, what are we doing here?

Nothing against Allen, but he might have no long-term future in Denver. And the Broncos have to give Lock multiple starts, one might surmise, if they have any chance of evaluating him and deciding whether they need to acquire a starting quarterback in the offseason.

This song and dance at the NFL’s most important position has been a familiar one for the Broncos and their fans. For the past several seasons — including even their Super Bowl-winning season in 2015 — they’ve had to make major changes at the position and constantly live in flux and uncertainty.

How long can that last?

5 games could tell Denver a lot

With five games remaining, Lock could get a decent look, even with the Broncos’ offensive shortcomings. Even though Lock slipped out of the first round in the 2019 NFL draft, GM John Elway used the 42nd pick of the draft on Lock — high enough to consider him a significant piece who at least deserves a shot.

Even though Fangio earlier this season said it wasn’t “vitally important” that Lock gets a shot this year, we wholeheartedly disagree. The last thing Denver can afford to do is to head into the offseason with so much confusion at the position again.

Is Flacco even in the picture for 2020?

Will the Broncos need to go get another “bridge” veteran who can start Day 1 next year?

Do they — gulp — draft another quarterback up high?

The Broncos are currently picking in the top 10 next spring. That pick will be important for Fangio, who was an against-the-grain hire in a league that defenestrates coaches without a second thought after two bad seasons.

And what about Elway? It’s amazing to think, but the same fans who idolized him as a player and as the architect of a Super Bowl roster are now starting to turn on him. The biggest reason without a doubt has been the countless missteps in recent years at quarterback.

Denver Broncos general manager John Elway hasn't had a great track record at QB in recent years. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

If Lock were to show some promise, or at least some measurable growth, down the stretch it might lead Denver to bolster its offensive line, add a deep receiver or patch some other need on this flawed roster. If Lock isn’t activated, who knows if he can play or not? The team would be stuck on its pre-draft evaluation and not have much more to go on other than his practice and preseason performance.

Likewise, if Lock struggles down the stretch, it could cause Elway to consider taking another passer in the draft. Let’s say the Broncos find themselves on the clock in Round 1 and both Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert are still out there? What then?

Lock playing about a quarter of the season this year certainly gives the Broncos much more information than they have now. The thumb has been healthy for weeks now. It’s time to give Lock the keys to the offense and see what he can do.

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