Joe Flacco’s placeholder status is safe.
Though the former Super Bowl MVP has struggled in getting the Broncos off to a 2-5 start in his first season in Denver, second-round pick Drew Lock isn’t yet ready to return from injured reserve, threatening the quarterback’s entire rookie season. Even if Lock was ready to return from a thumb injury, John Elway isn’t confident the franchise’s quarterback of the future is ready to claim that role.
“I will say this: The most important thing for a young quarterback is not to put him out there before he’s ready,” the Broncos general manager said Wednesday on KOA Radio. “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 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.
“We’re still in the process of evaluating that. He is not ready to go right now, I will tell you that.”
Shortly after Lock was selected out of Missouri, Elway wasn’t set on the rookie receiving action this season, having traded with the Ravens for Flacco.
Lock could be brought off IR later in the season, but he won’t be allowed to practice with the team until being removed from the list.
“We believe he has a ton of talent, but we also believe he has a lot left to work on,” Elway said in April. “When we look at it, we’re hoping Drew is the future. But Joe (Flacco) is the starter, is going to be the starter and he’s going to battle. We tend to look at it as the Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers-type situation. He’s going to have time to sit and watch Joe and take his time and learn and continue to get better.”
Elway cited his own experience as a rookie in 1983, having been benched during his fifth start, then sitting four games before reclaiming the position and becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
“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.
“So I think that’s why with young 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. 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.”
Flacco has thrown for 1,648 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions in seven games this season.