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Broncos OC Shurmur says Drew Lock 'embracing' new offense

Gordon, Lindsay can complement each other, he says
Posted at 3:57 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 07:53:26-04

DENVER -- The question seemed incongruous.

The Broncos ranked 28th in points (17.6), 20th in rushing (103.9 yards per game) and 30th in third-down conversions last season. Then came the free agent addition of Melvin Gordon, followed by the draft selections of receivers Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler and tight end Albert Okweugbunam. They join Pro Bowl receiver Courtland Sutton and tight end Noah Fant, who set franchise rookie records for catches and yards for his position.

Overnight, the Broncos have gone from scattered puzzle pieces to my Thursday query: So, um, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, how will you make all the pieces fit?

“I really do think you have to spread the ball around. In games you win and play good offense, when you typically look at the stat sheet at the end of the game, there’s probably six or seven guys who caught passes, probably two or three guys who ran the ball. If you’re going to play good offense, you need threats outside, inside and in the backfield," Shurmur said. "It’s going to be fun.”

The arrival of Gordon brings the most intrigue. He doesn't need Siri to find the end zone, scoring 48 touchdowns the past four seasons. He has proven elite in short-yard situations against eight defenders in the box and has averaged 50 receptions over the past three seasons.

Given that versatility, did Shurmur push for the Broncos to sign the former Charger Pro Bowler?

"I think that (rumor) is a false narrative. I’m all for adding good players at every position. I feel like Phillip Lindsay is an outstanding player who we can hand the ball to, or throw the ball to. The fact that we have two running backs now who can be very explosive with the ball in their hands, whether they throw it or run it, is a good thing," Shurmur said. "You need more than one running back. … The whole ‘pounding the table’ narrative — listen, I’m the new guy here.”

Lindsay has eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in each of his first two seasons. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and was hopeful of landing a new contract this offseason, which has become less likely. Gordon figures to be the lead back when you follow the money, leaving Lindsay in line for roughly 8-to-10 touches per game, especially if he improves as a receiver. Shurmur did not provide specifics, other than to say each will have a specific role and could be on the field at the same time.

"You have to have collision balance, the ability to break tackles," Shurmur said. "They share those traits. We intend to use both of them."

An improved ground game can microwave the develop of Drew Lock. In five starts last season as a rookie, the former Missouri star won four games, threw seven touchdowns with three interceptions and earned the respect of his teammates with his organic leadership.

"Drew is Drew. He is true to himself," receiver Diontae Spencer told Denver7. "And guys see that."

What Shurmur has found in Lock is a hard worker in the virtual setting. Lock knows what it means to be the Broncos quarterback and told Denver7 he is committed in every way. He weighs 221 pounds -- compare that to 228 during last season while he was on the injured reserve -- is stronger, motivated (he has thrown to nearly every receiver and running back on the roster recently) and attentive.

"It’s been awesome to work with him. Unfortunately, it’s been remotely. I think he’s embraced what we’re planning to do on offense," Shurmur said. "There’s a rumor that he is working with the players by himself (for throwing sessions) and I also heard it’s going well.”

Lock's mobility cannot be dismissed. Opponents sacked him five times in five games, and his elusiveness and quick strikes should help a remade offensive line coalesce with new starters at right guard and center and questions at both tackle positions (health for Ja'Wuan James and penalties for Garett Bolles).

Free agent Graham Glasgow, who received a $44-million contract, will be counted on to anchor the middle along with rookie Lloyd Cushenberry.

"(Glasgow)'s been very, very productive. When he was available and decided he wanted to come here, we were thrilled. He’s an interior player who has done an outstanding job and when you can bring a guy in that’s done it very well for a very long time, it will be helpful. That experience will help us, along with the fact he’s an outstanding pass blocker as well as a run blocker," Shurmur said before discussing the former LSU standout. "(Cushenberry) is very smart, he's very intuitive. You can see why he plays center, because they handle a lot mentally up front. He's really impressed us with how smart he is and his football awareness."

Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell revealed that Bryce Callahan is running full speed following his second foot surgery. "He will be ready to go," Donatell said of Callahan, who didn't play a snap in his first season with the Broncos. ... Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb is also running in his recovery from ACL surgery, creating optimism that he will be ready for the season opener. ... Donatell on the addition of five-time Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey: "This is a great veteran in our league, and he’s been a great interior player, but he adds to the pass rush. That’s really important to us, to give us that push up inside along the edge rushers we have.”