Does Drew Lock Struggle to Throw With Anticipation?

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Do our division rivals have a problem at the quarterback position?

I had this exchange on Twitter the other day, and other than him not understanding what I was saying it presented an interesting challenge. Since I have a Gamepass subscription and an excess of free time I figure, what the hell, let’s give it a look. But before we get started let’s take a look at an example of what throwing with anticipation looks like.

To judge Lock fairly without going through every single snap, I decided to look at his best game, which was the one against the Texans. He was 22/27 for 309 yards 3TDs and 1 INT, so if he does throw with anticipation you’d figure he’d show it in this game. Here’s a look at every throw Lock made that wasn’t a screen or a slant or some other form of short pass that doesn’t require anticipation.

So far he’s 0/1 on throwing before the receiver breaks their route, although the irony is that due to him being so late the defender thought he could intercept it, wiffed, and allowed a big gain. But had the defender not been so aggressive they could have knocked the ball down and forced an incompletion.

Although he was late, this shows why Lock was so highly regarded by a lot of people. That’s a difficult throw to make, but Lock was able to do it anyway. But he should try not making a habit of forcing these sorts of throws when getting hit, it’s a good way to throw the ball to the other team.

To be fair to Lock, at least he didn’t force it and throw an interception. But this was a play that was there if he was quicker. It’s the type of plays that separate the Patrick Mahomeses of the world from the Drew Locks.

This is the only play where Lock shows some ability to throw with anticipation, as he pumps in that direction but holds back when he sees the linebacker in the way. The problem for Lock here is that he’s so focused on that aspect of the play that he fails to feel the pressure coming down on him, which leads to him throwing the ball away to avoid the sack instead of escaping the pocket and extending the play. This is why even guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady can be so effective at avoiding pressure despite having the athleticism of your average Arrowhead Guys contributor. Being able to feel that pressure while also focusing on what’s happening downfield is another area that separates the men from the boys at the quarterback position.

I don’t know what was wrong with the Texans, but their defense was absolutely atrocious. The receiver was absolutely wide open here, and had somebody like Mahomes been the quarterback this could have very easily turned into a touchdown.

Lock has zero excuses for this one. He sat back there all day, and once again was fortunate that his guy was wide open to get a completion at all. While this looks like a great play for Lock on the surface, it’s a play that any NFL quarterback could make.

The underneath defender was 10 yards away when the receiver made his cut, but Lock was so late that he was able to go back and knock it away anyway. An earlier throw here could have been a touchdown, or at very least a big play.

Other than the pump fake, this is the play that comes the closest to showing anticipation. Here Lock at least was in the process of throwing before the receiver finished making his cut, but this should be a typical play for a good quarterback, not the best.

Overall this game shows that Gary was right, Lock does struggle to throw with anticipation. He got away with it against Houston since his receivers were running wide open all day, but if Lock wants to do anything more than win a couple regular season games without being a real contender he has to improve. These are the type of plays you can’t afford to leave on the field when Mahomes is on the other sideline. The good news for Broncos fans is that it’s not impossible for Lock to improve as he gains experience and gets more comfortable with the playbook. But history shows that the majority of quarterbacks who struggle throwing guys open will always struggle with it.

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BleedingRedAndGold
06/02/2020 2:12 pm

Best article yet from you, Tony. Perhaps I’m seeing things a bit, but to me you look to have applied your non-football skillset to a football analysis. I’ve seen it in the past, but it was cruder, less developed. This is tight and crisp.
 
Well done, sir.
 

Last edited 2 months ago by BleedingRedAndGold
SuperMegaChief
SuperMegaChief
06/02/2020 10:40 am

That’s a pretty big hole in his game that he will have to fill if he’s going to be any good.

former ap lurker
former ap lurker
06/02/2020 9:34 am

Hopefully, he’ll improve enough to get the Donkeys to 8-8. Every year.

Team Player
Team Player
Reply to  Tony Sommer
06/02/2020 11:14 am

Look. I see a pig flying! (Coach)

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