Drew Lock's offseason to-do list with Broncos includes learning to adjust

DENVER -- Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock hit a couple of more bumps on the learning curve Sunday but was able to get just enough done for the Broncos (6-9) to grind out a 27-17 victory over the Detroit Lions.

In his fourth career start, Lock struggled at times against a defense that has had issues defending the pass this season. The Lions were 31st in both overall defense and against the pass heading into Sunday's game -- they had surrendered at least 275 net yards passing in 10 games -- but they fared well against Lock.

The Lions doubled wide receiver Courtland Sutton much of the time and Lock tried to force the ball into that double coverage a little too often, especially in the first half. Lock finished 25-of-33 passing for 192 yards.

Lock's past two starts have provided a look at his offseason to-do list. The Kansas City Chiefs buried Lock with an aggressive pass rush last week, and the Lions took a more tactical approach in an attempt to take away Lock's favorite target. Lock didn't always adjust.

He found his rhythm a bit in the second half as the Broncos were able to carve out a little running room in some of their three wide receiver looks and as Lock was a little more willing to move the ball to other players like Tim Patrick and DaeSean Hamilton. But as teams get a little more time and game video to scout Lock, they will look at the past two weeks.

He is fading back against pass pressure too often and that can be a recipe for trouble if he can't consistently climb the pocket better. But he has shown composure so far in the rough spots and it showed in the second half Sunday.

Troubling trend: The Broncos' special-teams bobbles could often lead this category -- they surrendered a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown Sunday -- but the most troubling trend on this day is elsewhere. When the second half opened, the Broncos had Austin Schlottmann at right guard, Patrick Morris at left guard and Jake Rodgers at right tackle because of injuries. Schlottmann has started the past three games for the injured Ron Leary. Morris and Rodgers each entered the game when Elijah Wilkinson suffered an ankle injury in the first half. Guard Dalton Risner did not play in the second half after spending the past week being sick.

Depth on the Broncos' offensive line will certainly be one of the biggest offseason priorities. Morris was only claimed off waivers earlier this month, Schlottman was on the team's practice squad last season, and Rodgers, who has been waived or released 12 times previously in his career, had opened the season on the Broncos' practice squad.

The three -- Schlottmann, Rodgers and Morris -- played well through it all as the Broncos put together three scoring drives in the second half and none of the them were penalized.

Silver lining: Since a tough drop on what would have been a touchdown in the season opener, Hamilton's 2019 season had been a bit of a struggle. The second-year receiver had no receptions in six of the 10 games that followed that opening week loss to the Raiders. But he continued to do some of the dirty work blocking in the run game and has steadily shown a little more confidence in the offense down the stretch.

In the win over the Lions, Hamilton had a career-best 65 yards receiving to go with a touchdown. Given his ability as a quality route runner, Hamilton is the type of the receiver who could create some space for Sutton to work, if Hamilton can consistently play the way he did Sunday.