Those who wanted a clear picture will have to wait another week. The Denver Broncos quarterback situation came into focus a little more after the first preseason game on Thursday night, but it’s still a bit blurry.
Mark Sanchez played like Mark Sanchez. He had great plays sandwiched by head-scratching decisions. Still, the offense looked the best with Sanchez in the quarter he played.
Trevor Siemian looked like a backup quarterback. Not great, not awful. More just “meh.” He looked and played as you would expect a backup quarterback should. He won’t get much better. He won’t get much worse.
Paxton Lynch showed how good he can become and why the Broncos are so excited about the rookie. What we all need to see is him playing with a better offensive line. Lynch got no favors in his first start yet still showed huge upside. His arm, athleticism and accuracy were on full display. We need to see more. We should want to see more.
Lynch should get time with the twos in the second preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 20 at Mile High Stadium. That’s where we get the slight change. After the 22-0 win over the Chicago Bears, the quarterback depth chart should now be Sanchez, Lynch and Siemian.
Mark Sanchez's preaseason stat line (1 TD, 1 INT) in perfect harmony with his career (86 TD, 84 INTs).— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) August 12, 2016
However it unfolds over the next few days, there’s no immediate rush to get that resolution at quarterback, and that’s because of just how good the Denver defense is. Keep in mind: There was no Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Chris Harris Jr. or Aqib Talib on the field against the Bears. That should give Broncos Country all the feels after what it saw in the first preseason game. Super Bowl hangover? Nah. No chance.
For those who didn’t know or still had some doubt, the Broncos defense is still really, really, really good. Denver’s second-string defense is better than most teams starting units.
That dominance allows for Kubiak and his offensive coaches to remain patient with the quarterback situation. That allows them to ensure they make the right decision. At some point we will hear that old cliche, “Whoever gives us the best chance to win.”
That’s a helluva luxury to have if you’re a head coach in the NFL.
I still haven’t mentioned the quality special teams the Broncos have. When you do, you see why this team is so confident. All the pieces are there. Not to repeat, but to get another. To make history.
Aside from the quarterbacks, the Broncos offensive line remains a mystery. Russell Okung didn’t play at left tackle and right guard is up for grabs. Okung should play in the third preseason game and be ready to go for the opener. Right guard? That’s anyone’s best guess with the injury to Ty Sambrailo. And no one did anything to take control of the position on Thursday.
The most impressive offensive player was Devonate Booker. As with Lynch, you saw why Denver is so excited about him. But the area that shows he can make an immediate impact is his pass protection. As a rookie, that was the biggest question with Booker and he answered it. The goal now is to remain consistent and get better. Kapri Bibbs also had strong runs and looked like a solid No. 3 running back. Both of them should leap frog Ronnie Hillman on the depth chart.
Focus has been on the QBs, quietly Denver RB D. Booker having a great night.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) August 12, 2016
Yes, it’s just one preseason game. The most crucial aspect is the Broncos left Chicago healthy. More than the final score, that’s the tally that matters most. In the process, Denver also gave glimpses of what this team could look like.
That was enough to make Kubiak excited after the game. It should for Broncos Country as well.
The quarterback situation will get clearer over the next few weeks. You would think all involved would want to know by the always-important third preseason game.
While that plays out, what remains as clear now as it was on that Sunday in early February: The Broncos defense is really, really, really good.