Like most of the Broncos faithful, I was glued to my television at 6pm God's Time, aka Broncos Time, aka Mountain Time Zone. Not only did I watch that game, I have re-watched that game. I've also had a chance to digest what my eyes revealed to me Thursday, and I've had the pleasure of reading some articles on here written by our very talented staff. Well, here are my takes from the game, heavy on the quarterback situation.
But first, lets talk reality for a second, shall we?
The Broncos don't need an offense because Dat Defense Yo!
Ok, enough silly talk. But honestly, this defense looks to be better, yes, better than last year's rendition. I'm hoping that eventually as my life settles down, I can do some film gif/breakdowns to hammer home points, but that's going to be a regular season thing more-so than preseason because of schedules and Steve Jobs dying which makes Apple/Mac go into the crapper, thus forcing me to send my brand new macbook pro into the "shop". Lets hope whoever our QB is doesn't drive the Broncos into the gutter the way Tim Cook has with Apple.
Ok, enough ranting about non-football issues. The Broncos defense doesn't miss Malik Jackson or Danny Trevathan at all. Would it be nice to have them? Of course it would, but they don't, and the dropoff in play seems to be simply lip service, because the defense, missing 4 key starters, still tore the Bears a new one.
Special Teams needs work, especially on field goals. I say that because McManus clearly has good chemistry with Colquitt. Well, we watched McMoney be anti-money Thursday. Why? Has he forgotten how to kick? Or is it because the Broncos are going fire sale shopping for a new punter to save a few dollars? How many wins are kickers directly responsible for each year? Remember, kickers are almost always the team's highest scoring player. Well, you can't be the highest scoring player without being a tad bit important, right? So why mess with the formula that works for the highest scoring player on the team? I get it, if you can't score on our defense, you don't need to score on offense or special teams. While that's true, eventually someone will score on our defense, and I'd much rather have our leading scorer be able to have confidence in his kicks because he trusts the holder. From that aspect alone, you must just eat the extra money in salary and keep Colquitt. Plain and simple.
DT, Sanders, and yes, my main man Virgil "Pete has pounded the table for him for 2 years" Green have developed chemistry and a place on this offense. I'm not sure I need to say much more than what is bolded. Green has FINALLY found a role in the offense. He is the most underused weapon in recent Broncos history. I've always loved his blocking, and I refused to believe that he forgot how to run a route and catch a football when he stepped up into the NFL. With Julius Thomas gone, I expected Green's role to increase, but it didn't. I don't know if it was lack of chemistry between him and our old QB, but Green is a weapon. He looks like DT, but plays TE. Its a recipe for success. And speaking about Demaryius Thomas, how about those hands he's showing? He didn't drop any passes!
Now onto everyone's favorite topic, the starting QB competition. This is going to be lengthy, and unlike my Mile High Report brethren, I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm going to be as unbiased as a Broncos fan can possibly be. Here's what you'll read about my QBs: You'll read what I saw, what I liked, what I see needs to be improved upon, and overall how I saw each of them perform on a whole.
What you won't read is biased nonsense pushing the agenda of whichever QB I personally want to start (disclosure, I'm not sure who I want to start anymore). You won't hear me bash someone. You won't hear me put blinders on for one, yet take blinders off for others. I saw all 3 QBs do good things. I also saw all 3 QBs do bad things. Nobody was perfect and nobody was bad. If a QB makes a good throw, I'll say it's good. If a different QB makes a good throw, I won't say it has an asterisk. If a QB makes a mistake, I'll call it a mistake. I won't put 15 different built in excuses on it.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to attempt to do something unheard of: I'm about to hold all 3 QBs to the exact same standards whether they are a 7 year vet, a 2 year vet, or a rookie. All of them are held to the same standard because the last time I checked, you don't get to handicap games on Sunday. Teams won't spot us 10 points because we have a (insert whatever QB here) starting. Whether you're a 15 year vet, 7 year vet, 2 year vet, or rookie, you have to play the game regardless of your experience level, playing history, or growth potential.
QB Mark Sanchez:
Sanchez looked smooth. Real smooth. He looked like he was in complete control of the offense. When sh*t hit the fan, he didn't panic, and he didn't make a boneheaded mistake. Even the very first play of the game where he bootlegged left and threw left handed out of bounds, that was a good, heads up play. How you may ask? Easy, its because he was worried that he'd get the ball swatted out of his hand if he threw it away with his right hand, so he did it with his left. Some may laugh at him, but I commend him for that heads up play. That's exactly the heads up, wily vet move that lands you the starting job. It's like a runner switching the ball to the arm closest to the sideline so if it gets swatted out, it goes out of bounds, it doesn't become a fumble inbounds.
After that, he settled down, hung in the pocket for dear life (missing 2-3 starters) and delivered clutch throw after clutch throw. The difference between 3rd & 12 and 3rd & 4 is enormous, and Mark always made sure we were in decent 3rd down and distance situations. Add a gorgeous floater to DT for a touchdown as he took one in the chops, and you can begin to see glimpses of what a QB can do when he's surrounded by talent. Remember, at worst, that TD pass is a 70/30 jump ball for DT in the corner of the endzone. DT wins those matches almost every time. It just so happens that the DB was fooled by the play and it turned into a lob for DT (don't drop it by throwing a bullet) and an easy score.
The zit on Sanchez's stat sheet is indeed the INT. And it's 50% good play by the DB and 50% "stop staring down your target" on Sanchez. It usually takes two to tango on good and bad things, and this was no exception. If he throws short to Latimer, it's likely a completion and borderline 1st down. If he completes the long ball, it's likely a long play and possibly touchdown. But what he needs to do is not stare down his target. This will come with familiarity in the offense, or at least it should, because he'll have more faith that the intended receiver will be where he has to be and will beat the coverage.
There's only one other comment on Sanchez's drives; Don't give up on a play Fowler! You were JOGGING on your route when Sanchez aired it out for what should be an "off to the races" touchdown, but you forgot that this was an actual game and not a "half speed" walk-through. If you actually RUN and not JOG on that route, you have a TD, the Broncos dismantle the Bears even worse, and you probably don't end up nicked up from playing later into the game. You will lose the trust of the QB and coaches if you don't hustle, and jogging routs instead of running routs will get you benched.I'm really looking forward to watching Sanchez play more with the 1's to see how this offense develops with him under center.
Trevor entered the game to start the 2nd quarter and immediately showed command of the offense and rhythm with his receivers. I'm very intrigued by his arm. Boy oh boy does he throw a pretty ball. He marched the Broncos down the field and threw a 20 yard dart to Fowler on the near side of the endzone which Fowler dropped. Ugh. Again, Fowler will find himself on the bench if he keeps doing that. I want to sing "Bennie and the catch", but unfortunately, this is "Bennie and the drops and jogs"... just doesn't flow like the catch.
Anyways, Siemian looked poised, confident, and threw with tremendous accuracy. On the same opening drive, Siemian threw a gorgeous lob for Sunshine, but it was a 50/50 ball which the DB broke up. Siemian also showed off his wheels, avoiding a rush and picking up 15+ yards for a first down, that unfortunately had offsetting penalties and came back. But that mobility is absolutely essential for this offense. He didn't freak out under pressure, and used his legs when nobody got open. That's an amazing skillset to have in your back pocket.
Siemian also showed amazing chemistry with Cody Latimer. Cody was tearing up underneath stuff, and Siemian hit him with strikes most of the time. Like Sanchez, Siemian showed poise, confidence, and rhythm on offense. I really want to see him rep it out with the 1's to see how he handles things in an "apples to apples" competition with the other quarterbacks. Will DT or Sanders catch that pass for a TD that Fowler dropped? Probably. Will DT snatch that lob out of the air that Sunshine barely didn't? More than likely. Will that line protect him any better? Doubtful, but still, I'd like to see that arm and those legs with the starters so we get a better glimpse of his ceiling and ability to run this offense this year.
Pax has undeniable athletic gifts. I'm not even going to call it athletic ability, because this isn't ability, this is a straight up gift, a gift most would kill for. He's fast, he's tall, he has a very compact throwing motion. I expected him to have potentially his arm hit a few times during the game, but nope, his release is lightening quick and very compact, so defenders never have a realistic shot of tapping his elbow to make him throw a duck.
What I think Lynch struggles with is staying poised and calm under pressure. He looks to tuck it and run at the slightest hint of a pass rush. He needs to take a deep breath and slow himself down. When you're a QB, you need to make your money with your arms, not your legs. Again, its hard to judge Lynch against vets, but like I said at the beginning, the Broncos won't be spotted points because they're playing a rookie, and all QBs need to be held to the exact same standard otherwise bias creeps in.
My eyes tell me that Lynch tucks it and runs far too often. Bootlegs are one thing, they're by design, but tucking and running is a trait that needs to be reigned in otherwise he'll get hurt. But my boy Pax does throw a gorgeous ball. He throws in windows, he throws with purpose and velocity. He has great chemistry with Latimer, as do all three QBs it seems.
I am impressed with how athletic he is. While not as smooth as the other quarterbacks, he definitely makes up for with athleticism and ability to escape harm. Like Sanchez, Lynch stood tall to deliver strikes when he wasn't tucking it and running. It appeared that as the game went on, he slowed down and became more comfortable. We need him to do more of that if he plans on actually contending for a start or two this season.
Lynch also makes me the least nervous when he throws out patterns. The ball gets there so quickly that defenders can't jump them yet. This is a great thing and a great trait for a QB as out patterns can quickly turn into pick six's. Lynch seems to have this down. And that bootleg, oh that beautiful bootleg.
Like Siemian, Lynch didn't have his offense hit paydirt, and out of all three QBs, he was the farthest from having his team actually march down the field to score a TD. He needs to find a rhythm that just wasn't there. He looked to string individual plays together, but they didn't have a rhythm to it. He rushed things too quickly at times. Overall, like the other two quarterbacks, I'd love to see him rep this out with the starters. Will he have better blocking so he doesn't have to run? Will he be able to take shots down field because nobody is gonna cover Emmanuel Sanders? Again, like the other two, I'd LOVE to see how he looks in an "apples to apples" comparison between the three.
Months ago, I cursed when we signed Sanchez. Then I took a deep breath and convinced myself that he'd be less mistake prone on the Broncos. I hated when we drafted Lynch because it screamed "Brock" to me. I was unsure on Siemian because I simply haven't seen enough of him outside of preseason last year.
Well, color me impressed with all three quarterbacks. They all had their peaks and they all had their valleys. What stood out to me was that Sanchez's peaks were higher, but his valley's were also deeper. Siemian appears to have the ability to have equal peaks, and potentially less deep valleys. Lynch has the ability to have higher peaks, but also deeper valleys simply because he's too raw. Drinking game everybody, lets take a shot each time someone refers to Lynch as "raw", deal?
It's undeniable that if Lynch can build on his game, that he'll be our franchise quarterback for hopefully the next decade or more. However, he's simply too raw to have anyone expect him to do it this year. He rushed plays, he didn't read through progressions, and he was way too quick to tuck it and run. Again, those aren't knocks on him as all rookies not named Dan Marino go through these growing pains. The future for Lynch is extremely bright.
Mark Sanchez is undeniably better than we've seen him be with the Jets and Eagles. He looked comfortable in this offense and hit his players in stride. He was poised and led this team to the only touchdown drive. I can't harp on that enough. To me, the difference between "starter" and "backup" is the ability to lead teams on scoring drives. Starters are expected to do it, backups aren't, even though it would be nice if they did. That's why they are backups and not starters after all. I mean, if a backup kept taking his team to paydirt, wouldn't he become the starter? Stew on that for a moment.
Siemian looked equally smooth like Sanchez. He was throwing to "lesser names" just as Lynch did, and I have to think that if Siemian had the starters out there, that he'd have led them to a touchdown as well, which again, would mean he maybe isn't a backup. Siemian knows where to place the ball and he places it there quite well. Of the three quarterbacks, Siemian still has the biggest question mark next to him. I just don't know what we have with him. Do we have a starter? Do we have a solid backup? Do we have trade bait if he does really well? I simply don't know, I really don't.
After a single game, I can see why Sanchez started. I can also see why Siemian is the co/starter and potentially will start Week 2. I can also see why the Lynchmaniacs fell in love with Pax.
Am I laughing at anybody who is pro Sanchez, Siemian, or Lynch? No I am not, because all three had their moments. All three made great plays. All three had plays they wish they could take back. If I'm a coach, I'm probably keeping week 2 the way we saw week 1 shake out: 1st quarter is Sanchez, 2nd quarter is Siemian, 2nd half is Lynch. The difference is that I'd keep the starters for the entire first half so we can see how Sanchez and Siemian play with the same personnel. Lynch will then get reps with the backups so we can see how he performs against people who's biggest opponent won't be the Wendy's frier in a month. If Lynch lights up backups with backups, then I can see real reason to make Week 3 be Sanchez Q1, Siemian Q2, Lynch Q3 with starters and Q4 with the backups.
To me, that's a fair way to evaluate all three of them, apples to apples. We will see if Lynch makes rookie mistakes with starters. We will see if Siemian steps up and puts that gorgeous fastball into the hungry arms of DT and Sanders. We'll see if Sanchez continues to reinvent himself.
So many questions, and thankfully, there just may not be a wrong answer!