The scenario is far from ideal. But when it comes to the NFL, it never plays out as you hope.
How teams and coaches respond to those situations is what determines success. What we witnessed on Sunday is yet more evidence that Gary Kubiak and his coaching staff know how to win regardless of the circumstances.
Your first-year starter gets rocked and has to leave the game with an injury so you turn to your rookie quarterback and the team doesn’t miss a beat. In fact, one could make the argument the offense looked better with the rookie.
As Kubiak has shown, he trusts his players to make plays. And Paxton Lynch did just that in the 27-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To play as Lynch did in that situation should excite fans of the Denver Broncos. His athleticism, mobility, vision, arm, accuracy and decision making were on full display. Keep in mind, Lynch more than likely got less than 20 percent of the reps in practice this week yet still impressed.
Fans saw why John Elway traded up to get Lynch and why this team is so high on him.
Lynch’s first two drives, at the end of the first half and to begin the second, ate time off of the clock, moved the ball and ended in points.
What stands out the most on those two drives is how Lynch extends the play. There was a third-down on the opening drive of the second half when the play broke down but he was able to keep it alive because of his play-making ability. The fact he is so athletic allowed him to scramble to the Denver (4-0) sideline and forced Tampa Bay (1-3) to commit a huge penalty that resulted in a Broncos’ first down. All made possible because Lynch extended the play.
Still, that touchdown drive Lynch orchestrated was a thing of beauty. He spread the ball around to his receivers, Denver ran the ball and it was a capped by the first touchdown pass of his career to Emmanuel Sanders. That drive highlighted what this offense can and will look like. You could tell as Lynch got comfortable, his play got even better. And the players around him responded.
Impressive of Paxton Lynch to come off the bench cold and perform like that for the #Broncos. Damn impressive.— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) October 2, 2016
That all adds up to a great sign for him, Kubiak and the Broncos. In Lynch’s first action as a NFL quarterback, he could not have done any better. To come off of the bench cold (as much as you can in hot, muggy Tampa) and play as Lynch did is impressive. Damn impressive.
The fact Kubiak and the offensive coaches didn’t reel in Lynch is damn impressive. They adjusted their plan to fit Lynch’s strengths and it showed. As mentioned earlier, teams and coaches must pivot. The successful ones aren’t caught off guard, no matter what happens. Kubiak proved nothing rattles him, his coaching staff or his team.
We also all saw, yet again, how dominant Denver’s defense is. The latest name on the wall of quarterbacks to get victimized is Jameis Winston. Nothing to feel ashamed of young man, you’re far from alone. But if the Broncos can get the offensive showing they got on Sunday, with a rookie quarterback in his first action, this team will be near impossible to defeat.
Focus on that for the here and now.
Save the talk for who should start next week against the Atlanta Falcons for later in the week. We still don’t know how severe Trevor Siemian’s injury is. Let’s wait for official word and save the speculation.
We’ve heard that Lynch would struggle. That he wouldn’t make all the plays. He put the kibosh on that talk. There is no more pressure-packed situation than to come in at the end of the first half and move the ball down the field.
While we don’t know Siemian’s status, we do know Lynch has it.
It was a less-than-ideal scenario in which to find out, but Kubiak and the Broncos now know they can win with two quarterbacks. As Kubiak showed last year in a “quarterback controversy,” he’ll listen to his coaches, his gut and do what’s best for the organization.
Along the way, Kubiak will remain honest and open about what he’s thinking and plans to do. In the NFL, that is unheard of.
It also doesn’t get more ideal than that.