Almost two weeks ago, I broke down the passing performance Trevor Siemian had against the Carolina Panthers. I found it helped me understand where he is actually at in his development and where I should focus my attention on his potential improvement.
The Denver Broncos defeated the Indianapolis Colts 34-20, but the score belies how close this game actually was and a big part of that is due to the offense’s inability to score despite putting up massive yardage.
Pro Football Focus gave Siemian credit for handling the blitz very well. Defenses are trying to rattle him with pressure, but Siemian is excelling the most when the defense sends an extra man or two. At some point teams will figure out that having more defenders in coverage is actually where Siemian struggles the most.
|Plays under pressure||11||1||9||4||44.4%||63||7||0||0||1||68.3|
|When not blitzed||19||1||18||11||61.1%||91||5.1||0||1||0||50.9|
PFF had this to say about how Siemian handled the blitz against the Colts:
The Colts blitzed Siemian on nearly half of his dropbacks (17 of 36), and Siemian was able to make them pay, finishing 11-for-16 for 175 yards and a 104.9 QB rating.
There are others who just aren’t seeing any long-term potential yet. They see a quarterback that ranks near the bottom in every relevant quarterback statistic.
2016 NFL QBs sorted by worst passer rating at the top... pic.twitter.com/CeEeE2xJ2E— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) September 22, 2016
However, two games is also to small of a sample size to truly begin forming an opinion on Siemian’s long-term outlook. However, there is nothing wrong with watching the plays and identifying what he is doing well and what he isn’t doing well.
Last week, his biggest strengths were ball placement and his quick release, while is biggest weaknesses centered around his slow progression through his reads. Let’s see if he did this week against the Colts.
The first play of the game was positive. That’s something I’ve noticed about Siemian, he comes out strong. Whatever script Gary Kubiak has dialed up early in games is something that Siemian masters fairly quickly.
On this throw, Emmanuel Sanders appears to be his second read. His progression was quick and he got the ball to a location where only Sanders could make a play on it.
Best part of this play: Speed of progression
One this very well designed rollout, Siemian hit Virgil Green for a first down pickup. He didn’t really have to read much, as all of his options were right there in front of him. What he did well was correctly identify the only guy who was really open to make a play on a pass.
Best part of this play: Decision-making
This one is rough. Siemian did not even try to progress to his reads on the other side of the field. If he had, Demaryius Thomas was about as wide open as a number one receive could get.
This is a play that Thomas was particularly annoyed about. Siemian was asked about it and said, “I saw the picture and I went up to him. I just picked the wrong side. I told him to get open next time (laughs). He was good about it. Like I said, those two have been great leaders the whole way through.“
I appreciate his attempt to smooth things over, but these are plays that DT and Sanders are used to getting. It’s tough to fill the shadow left by Peyton Manning, but to not even look for the best wide receiver on the team on a critical third down is almost inexcusable. Hopefully he’ll learn from it.
Aqib Talib also commented on things. He said something about how wide receivers would complain no matter what. If they get only 5 catches, they’d want 7. If they get 10, they’d want 12. So I wouldn’t worry too much about this being a distraction on the team.
Worst part of this play: Could not progress past second read
Sometimes your first read is wide open and it seems to be the case a lot this year with the Broncos. Siemian did an excellent job selling the play fake, which froze the linebacker just long enough to open the middle of the zone for one of his better completions of the game.
I tried to zoom in to see if Siemian looked off the second linebacker, because he seemed to flip his hips and put himself out of position. However, I couldn’t tell. Given how that linebacker reacted, I have to assume Siemian did and that was the key to this play being successful.
Best part of this play: Getting the defender out of position with his eyes
So, last week on these quick screens I had pointed out how he shouldn’t be taking so many steps. It resulted in an interception and a lost scoring opportunity. Here was that play:
I lamented that he needs to turn and throw quickly on those screens, but I also noted that this is something that is entire coachable. Well, look at his feet now:
No extra steps, just turn and throw. The result is a playmaker making plays.
Best part of this play: Learns from past mistakes
With Manning, this would have been an easy touchdown for Sanders. However, Siemian is still much too slow with his read and react times and by the time he was ready to make a decision Sanders was well covered and all Siemian could do was throw the ball away.
The time to throw was before Sanders made his break into the end zone. He would have caught it just inside for a touchdown. Instead, that window of opportunity slammed shut by the time Siemian began to hop around looking to throw. It should have been 1, 2, 3, 4, plant and throw. Not 1, 2, 3, 4, hop, hop, hop, throw away.
"I can sit up here and make it all about me and Demaryius, how we're used to having 100-yard games, we're used to scoring touchdowns and we're used to doing this. But we're sitting here 2-0," Sanders said. "I'm waiting for that big game, Demaryius is waiting for that big game -- we know it’s going to come."
Worst part of this play: Read and reaction.
On the very next play, it looks like Max Garcia made a bad decision and let a guy come free up the middle. Siemian did everything he could to get the ball out before getting walloped, but the ball sailed incomplete. Sanders was wide open too.
Worst part of this play: Max Garcia
This is the kind of play call that needs to happen more often. It was clearly a one-read deep throw as Siemian has guys open on shorter routes. You absolutely need to take these shots during a game or defenses will be all over your higher percentage attempts. Hopefully at some point, we’ll see a connection on these deep passes.
Best part of this play: Keeping the defense honest
This was a positive play for a first down, but I still didn’t like it. Siemian had a clean pocket and waited until Thomas made his break and was facing him to throw the ball. In the NFL, that’s too late. He needs to stop dancing around and waiting for a receiver to look at him and just trust that he’ll do his job. The ball should arrive moments after he turns from his break.
Worst part of this play: Read and reaction
This is one of the only plays where I felt he progressed through most, if not all, of his reads on the play call. The timing was still a little slow, but he was at least starting his throwing motion before Jordan Taylor had come out of his break. It’s plays like these that give me hope, but I sure would like to see more of them.
Best part of this play: Timing / Progression through reads
Siemian again got to his third or fourth read and he got there soon enough to matter. Unfortunately, his confidence was about to be shattered for the rest of the game.
Best part of this play: Progression through reads
This should have been another pick six, but the injury gods said not today. Remember that kudos I gave Siemian earlier about learning from his mistakes? Well, he reverted to the norm on this play.
He didn’t quite take two steps, but his took a full one and that gave Darius Butler more than enough time to jump a predictable route. He should have seen Butler sneaking up to the line as well.
Uhg, so much bad from Siemian on this play.
Worst part of this play: Everything.
The interception changed Siemian in this game. Here you can see him completely stare at a guy who is clearly never getting open, despite Kapri Bibbs being open early underneath. Siemian instead holds the ball, avoids the rush, then tries to throw to Bibbs who is now well covered and its nearly picked again.
Not to keep beating up on the guy, Siemian is what he is: a young, inexperienced quarterback who is going to make more mistakes than the average starting quarterback.
Worst part of this play: Indecision
Here we have a nice easy short completion in the middle of the field. He went through his progressions and got the ball out quickly. A nice, safe throw. This is by design from Kubiak’s staff. A quarterback with Siemian’s experience must have a conservative vanilla offense to run. It’s just how it has to be. We’re all just used to Peyton.
Best part of this play: Speed of progression
The reason I didn’t break down every single throw is because a bulk of them look a lot like this one. A one-read short throw to either side for a short gain. Right now, this is why the offense is gaining so many yards, but stalling in the red zone. The shorter the field gets the less likely these kinds of plays are going to work.
Best part of this play: Ball placement
What this play tells us is that Siemian is tough as nails. He took a shot, but got the ball off just in time to Green who was able to convert the third and long attempt. It’s plays like this that show why he is so good against the blitz.
Best part of this play: Toughness
Remember that near pick six earlier in the game? That’s why this play wasn’t successful. The back was open in the flat, but instead of throwing the ball Siemian balked then rolled out to throw the ball away.
I appreciate he was playing not to lose, but the Broncos needed more than that at that point in the game.
Worst part of this play: Indecision
This play proved to me that Siemian doesn’t quite have the arm strength some have tried to say he has. What he has is good mechanics, which enables him to throw hard when needed. Since he couldn’t set the throw, his true arm strength was on display here as he one-hopped it to the receiver.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it kind of told me what I already suspected. There was no bad part of this play, on Siemian’s end anyway. This play call took much took long to develop and Siemian had no open receivers once the defender was in his face. He did a great job even getting the ball to where only his guy could make a play on it.
Best part of this play: Getting the ball out
Siemian definitely regressed a bit from his performance in Week 1. Siemian finished the day 22/33 for 266 yards and one interception. I am sure national media types looked at the stats from week 1 to week 2 and immediately believed Siemian improved, but if you watch the breakdown he did not improve in my opinion.
In the first week, I felt he took what the defense gave him and played well overall despite the “wimpier” stats. Against the Colts, he made worse decisions overall and cost the Broncos some points with his mistakes. The Colts are a terrible pass defense to boot.
The one area where he is currently excelling greatly is when defenses send an extra man on a blitz. However, where he is worst is when teams sit back in coverage. The Cincinnati Bengals play a lot of press-man coverage, which will really test Siemian’s NFL ability.
I look forward to seeing how he does against that.