Based on reports from Mike Klis, Paxton Lynch will be starting at quarterback for the Broncos this weekend, and the rookie says he will be more ready this time.
“I feel confident, more confident than when the season started,” Lynch said Wednesday, adding that scout team reps against the Denver defense has provided a huge step in his learning curve.
“Those reps that you get, you can’t compare them to any other reps because you’re getting them against the best defense in the league,” he said. “When I get those reps, I take them serious and try to make the throws every time.”
Coach Gary Kubiak noted that the rookie is definitely more comfortable with every aspect of the game – the team, playbook, etc. – than he was Week 6 when he started against Atlanta in place of an injured Siemian. The Broncos lost that game, their first of the season, 23-16.
“He’s more comfortable in the base things. He’s just more comfortable with the group, you can tell,” Kubiak said, adding that Lynch is also doing better with the Broncos’ scheme. “He’s further along in what we ask him to do on a weekly basis, in how quickly he processes information.”
Although it has been tough to develop consistency in his throwing by not getting regular reps with the starting receivers and offensive line, Lynch has been building on his opportunities throughout the past weeks. And Rick Dennison noted that Lynch has been getting some added time with the first team on Wednesdays when some of the starters rest, which has included Siemian.
“I feel like I’m getting better day-to-day. Day-in and day-out, the more reps that I get with the offense and the more reps that I get with the receivers and the O-line, the more comfortable I feel,” Lynch said. “Not getting a lot of reps with them up until this point kind of affected my consistency, but throughout the season I feel like I have built on that.”
The young QB has also been taking advantage of mental reps.
“I see Trevor getting the reps and I get the play call in my helmet. I just say the play like I’m in the huddle and then stand off to the side and run the play myself,” Lynch said, adding that however he can get the reps, he’s going to do it.
Those will be especially important now that his number has been called to start Sunday.
“I’ll be a lot more comfortable out there than I was for the first time,” Lynch said. “I feel a lot more comfortable [now] than where I was when I started the [Atlanta] game.”
Von Miller says the Broncos are confident in No. 12 suiting up.
“He’s always showed signs of greatness. He’s always showed signs of the type of quarterback that we want him to be. It’s just about being consistent in the National Football League,” Miller said, adding that that’s true of all players – rookies and veterans alike. “If he can go out there and be consistent, just like the rest of us, I feel like he has a tremendous shot at being successful.”
DeMarcus Ware added that “rookie” doesn’t belong in front of Lynch’s name – especially as he improves his consistency in keeping drives going.
“He’s always played with great confidence, especially being a younger guy. We don’t put that [rookie] tag on him anymore. He is one of those guys that contributes to the team and plays well if he plays,” Ware said. “He always brings that factor of stringing plays out, too. When he’s out there playing, he’s that Joker; you don’t know what you’re going to get, but you know that you’re going to get consistency.”
Siemian says Paxton Lynch has been coming along "really well" ... "exciting to see how much he's grown ... has been doing a good job."— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) November 30, 2016
Speaking of consistency, perhaps one of the biggest keys to success for any player serving as QB on Sunday will be a consistent running game. Losing starter C.J. Anderson six weeks ago to a knee injury has hampered much progress, but the Broncos’ rushing attack has at least broken the 100-yard threshold the past two games.
“That’s what will help Lynch the most,” Kubiak said about the ground game. “We’ve been in a couple of really close games with New Orleans, playing from ahead for a little bit and Kansas City, playing from behind a little bit. We’ve stayed with it. We’re able to get some production out of it. I think it helped us move the ball.”
Dennison said no matter who plays signal caller on Sunday, coaches will put the QB in his best position to win. That has not been a strong suit for the Broncos offense to date, so hopefully Kubiak intervenes more this week, adding some stretch plays, bootlegs, maybe even runs to the outside as a good start.
Against Atlanta, the Broncos mustered just 84 rushing yards, and Lynch was sacked six times for 40 yards. More than anything from that game, Lynch didn’t like coming up short on points and getting the loss.
In the first three quarters of the game, the Broncos offense punted on six of eight possessions. Another one ended in an interception and just one resulted in a score – a Brandon McManus field goal. But the Broncos’ three possessions in the fourth quarter resulted in two field goals and a touchdown.
Lynch will look to capitalize on the rhythm and success he was gaining at the end of the game.
“I’m definitely upset that I have a zero on the win column from my starts,” Lynch said, adding that he knows he may still be the backup. “I’m taking the reps as I get them right now. If I have to play on Sunday, I’ll be ready.”