The Denver Broncos have been one of the best teams in the NFL in 2016. For the second year in a row it is in spite of the quarterback play, not because of it. What is interesting here is that every position on the field has grown, improved, evolved into something better. Will we see that at the quarterback position, as Ian St. Clair and I discussed on the MHR Radio Podcast?
So far, it doesn’t look like it. Through six and a half games (he was injured a little) Trevor Siemian has seemingly shown the world exactly what he is. A solid back up, with good upside, but a limited skill set. And I know that he has done the most important thing any quarterback can do this year, which is win. But has he ever been the reason the team won? Maybe Cincinnati?
I’m more than willing to recognize that the Broncos need to wait to make any changes at the position. Siemian has command in the huddle, understands the playbook, and likely gives the Broncos the best chance to win right now. I’m not calling for a move to Paxton Lynch. I never thought a trade for Tony Romo was a good idea. I am resigned to the status quo under center.
There have been positives. Remember Cincinnati? Trevor played well. He threw the ball downfield. Took what the defense gave him, and turned it into a win. In fact, that is probably the best thing that can be said about Siemian. He is willing to take what the defense gives him.
You may be asking yourself, "then what’s the problem?" Here it is. Trevor Siemian has not grown at all. He is, after 6 and a half games, still a one read, one side of the field passer, check down Charlie. Part of that might be the lack of protection. Part of that might be his injury. But Siemian has the uncanny ability to see only half the field, and look at just one receiver. The fact that it has not turned into more interceptions can be attributed to two things, bad defenses for opponents, and luck.
Most good NFL defenses will take a quarterback like that and pick them apart. The defenses that Siemian has faced have not taken advantage of him, but they will. Starting with the Raiders, the Broncos will play 5 of their next 8 games on the road. They have some cupcakes, Jacksonville, Tennessee, maybe New Orleans. All on the road. They get the Chiefs twice. They play the Patriots at home. They finish the season on New Years day with the Raiders, bringing us full circle from the upcoming matchup in Oakland.
While their southern swing doesn’t scream, "Great Defenses," playing on the road in those environments will not be easy. Siemian needs to progress. The game needs to slow down. How many more times will he be able to rely on defensive backs who can’t catch, or have their hamstrings explode on their way to the house?
This game against the Raiders will be a huge test for the Broncos young quarterback. The Raiders defense is not great, but there is an opportunity her for Oakland that can’t be ignored. Beating the Broncos would signal a return of the Silver and Black to the realm of actually mattering in the NFL. You can bet that Jack Del Rio will be showing tons of "Animals Hunting Animals" DVDs. If Siemian could step up and foil that plan, Broncos Country might start swinging back to his favor.
The criticism is growing. As one of the first to throw shade earlier in the season, I know this will be met with some eye rolls, but be honest. Can you really say that you thought Trevor would be the same guy today that he was week one? Still, one read, one side of the field, and living on the check down?
After eight games I was hoping for more. Hopefully, we will see that step forward in the Black Hole on Sunday night. If not, strap in, because the rest of the season is going to be a bumpy ride.