<
>

Broncos' Drew Lock might find unwelcome homecoming at Arrowhead

play
Berry: Fant is going to be a trendy sleeper next year (0:48)

Field Yates comments on how Noah Fant has looked the part of an athletic tight end, and Matthew Berry forecasts the Broncos TE as a trendy sleeper for next season. (0:48)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The first time quarterback Drew Lock set foot in the Denver Broncos' complex in April as a second-round draft pick out of Missouri, he knew his family would have to make some adjustments.

A graduate of Lee's Summit (Missouri) High School, which sits 15 miles from the Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium, Lock said his parents and others were "going to have to wear the orange and blue of the Broncos now and not the red and yellow."

He'll put that theory to the test on Sunday, as Lock -- 2-0 as a starter -- heads home to Arrowhead for a game against the Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

It's a tall task for Lock. Even the best Broncos quarterbacks have struggled in Kansas City. Toss in the proximity of Lock's hometown and the potential horde of family, friends and neighbors who would like to see him in person and you have a heady mix for the Broncos' 23-year-old rookie.

"He's going to have to deal with, you know, the hometown stuff you guys and [the Kansas City media] will want to write about," Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. "I feel good where he's at."

"Yeah, I think it will be blowing up that I'll be going back home to Kansas City," Lock said. "But you think about it, that's my home. I've been there a thousand times. Nothing new about it except for that I'm going to be in blue and orange and not red and yellow."

Since the Chiefs' tailgating mecca opened in 1972, the Broncos are 3-14 in December games at Arrowhead. The football stew of old man winter's bite, the Chiefs' talent, the wall of a sound, bad luck and bad days has made it a rather dismal holiday-season trip for the Broncos no matter how their season was going when they arrived.

The Broncos were 1-6 in John Elway's December starts there. In 2005, when the Broncos advanced to the AFC Championship Game, the team suffered its only loss after Oct. 23 during a December trip to Arrowhead. In 2000, when the Broncos finished 11-5, it was the team's only regular-season loss after Oct. 22.

It's a short list of Broncos' quarterbacks who have won at Arrowhead in December: Elway (1994), Kyle Orton (2009) and Peyton Manning (2013).

Broncos Ring of Fame wide receiver Rod Smith was once asked why the Broncos had so many difficulties in Arrowhead when the calendar page had flipped to December, and he said: "How the hell should I know? If I did, I would fix it, but when you lose, it means you didn't get it right, and we have times we didn't get it right."

Lock, the seventh quarterback to start a game for the Broncos since Week 8 of the 2017 season, has thrown five touchdown passes to go with two interceptions in his two starts, both wins. The Broncos have scored at least 23 points in back-to-back games for the first time since October 2018.

"Guys around this facility and the organizations started to get a little swag, started to play with some juice," Lock said. "That's awesome. But we need to keep it day-by-day, not get too far ahead of ourselves. We had an awesome game [against the Texans], but that was because of the prep we had."

Broncos linebacker Von Miller has called Lock, after eight quarters of work, a "rock star." The team's offensive lineman give Lock a steady flow of grief, dubbing him Buzz Lightyear of "Toy Story" fame for his large wristband with the play calls on it. So is it "to infinity and beyond" for Lock?

"I don't put ceilings or floors on guys," Fangio said this week when asked what the future might hold for Lock. "They can go as high as they want, hopefully not too low. I do think he played much better [Sunday] than he did the week before. I thought his passing was more accurate and more crisp than it was the week before. He made some plays with his legs, which was good. I think overall he's had a good two-week start to his career."

Asked if that meant Lock is the long-term answer the team and its faithful have craved since Manning retired, Fangio simply added: "I don't know. It's two games. Who's long-term right now? He's doing good. He's done well for two games. That's about all it is."