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Why the Denver Broncos need to go all in on Paxton Lynch in 2017

Next season Denver needs an answer at QB and these are my thoughts and opinions on what the right direction for the team looks like.

Atlanta Falcons v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

I’m excited for the future of the Denver Broncos. We have a team loaded with talent but came up short this year because we lack one really big piece of a puzzle: an offense that produces points consistently.

Yes, the whole unit is broken. Yes the offensive line needs work. Yes we need better RB and TE play.

But the key thing we need that has been missing for two and a half years is good QB play and it starts by having a real answer being developed at QB instead of only having year after year of questions. The Broncos this past season played a young QB who was able to learn a system well. I’m advocating for a different path this year. One where we build a system to fit our QB instead of the other way around.

Where the Broncos have been at QB

I get why the Broncos went with Trevor Siemian this past season. I even applauded it. Why? Because we were still in position to make another postseason run with an astounding defense.

I also said back when we drafted Paxton Lynch that no one should really expect much of him in his rookie season because he has a LOT to learn. He came from a college running a very simple system and it was going to take a lot of work to get him up to NFL speed. He sure did look shaky in play this year, too. He was never going to be an answer in 2016. He needed a lot of mental work on understanding NFL-level offense, under center adjustment, calling plays in the huddle, and footwork.

The team had brought in Mark Sanchez because they knew their young QBs weren’t going to be playing pro bowl level football and wanted to try and find a somewhat cheap option to get through the season with.

So now everyone has seen a full season of what Trevor Siemian has to offer. There’s even things I like about his game. But at the end of the year what I can’t get away from is that three game stretch from weeks 14 through 16.

  • 10 points
  • 3 points
  • 10 points

That’s very VERY telling about our offense as a whole and it speaks a lot about the quarterback who had started for the majority of the season.

Why? Because at that point the whole rest of the NFL had plenty of film on what kind of QB Siemian is and what he is capable of. The book was out. Play zone concepts and keep 2 guys over top and he struggles. Favor his left with your coverage. On 3rd down, play the sticks because he rarely throws past them. Once he’s in the red zone play sit back in your zone coverage and let him make a mistake as he is prone to do once the field shrinks.

Sanchez was a joke, Siemian was below average, and Lynch was still pretty raw. That is what we learned in 2016.

Where the Broncos are going at QB

Trevor Siemian

Siemian is not without talent. He’s a NFL football player and not just because Kubiak liked him. It is because he has ability. He has the brains for it. He’s just not the guy you use to the answer of the question, “Who do you want at QB for the next 10 years for your NFL team?”

Those of you who read my reviews know I’ve said basically his ceiling is that of an Alex Smith or Rich Gannon. Heck, that’s not a bad shake...Smith just led a team into the playoffs this season after all.

But how many of you want to build a team around a QB like him? How many NFL teams out there are pining for Alex Smith and waiting for him to hit the open market?

That’s the shake. I don’t see the Broncos sitting back at Dove Valley patting themselves on the back for finding their future QB this year. That’s not how the season played out. That’s not what we saw on the field. We saw a guy who lacked accuracy (placement, not completion), durability, and the ability to attack zone coverages.

Also I want to point out before I step away from talking about Siemian that what I’m saying above is his ceiling. His ceiling is Alex Smith, not where he’s at now or where he will necessarily will be next year.

I honestly think he’ll make a good backup for us and am not averse to keeping him on the team as such (unless magic happens and someone offers a trade for him). But at the end of the day, my eyes tell me his future in the NFL isn’t going to wow anyone and hasn’t shown me the kind of play that makes me sit up and take notice like I did during Derek Carr’s rookie season.

Paxton Lynch

Like I said above, the first thing everyone needs to do when talking about Lynch is to take a breath. We’re way spoiled as fans in today’s game. We expect our QBs to throw TDs, complete over 60% of their passes, and never throw the ball to the other team. If those are your expectations, Lynch probably has more than a few black marks on his resume.

I don’t get about people knocking his play and practically writing him off. The guy is just like Adam Gotsis in that he needs development in a big way, but has the look of a guy that has a boat load of upside. Broncos Country needs to have patience and understanding with Lynch.

And here’s the rub: yes, I can say this about one QB and not the other. Why? Because my eyes tell me a very different story with Lynch.

One thing I see with his play is that he has yet to start truly understanding coverages. I think he knows well enough what his plays were designed to do, but I got the feeling watching him that he was a step behind Siemian in this area. The promising thing is that this is very common for rookie QBs and it is absolutely something that can be learned and improved on in a big way with study and sound coaching.

But probably the biggest thing I noticed about Lynch’s play that has me excited is his arm. He may not have developed enough touch yet, but the kid has a big time NFL arm. Add to that that he definitely prefers to target intermediate passes and you have a mixture for a QB who can be flat out deadly in today’s NFL.

My hype in this area comes with some caution though. Jeff George and Jay Cutler both had cannon arms...but they kinda sucked as NFL QBs. Again we get to this place where you have to keep in mind that we’re talking about potential. So what do we look for this next year to see that Lynch can be more than these two scrubs with big arms?

The big focus I hope for Lynch this offseason is his footwork. It is absolutely atrocious and he needs to drill it until it is second nature to him. Most of his inaccuracy issues we saw last year come from weird angles at his feet, bad distances for their placement, or even throwing while not planted. This one facet alone will do wonders for his game and see him as a starter in 2017.

The other focus is going to be difficult to fit in while he learns another offence, but that is some serious work on reading coverages. He’ll look like a big time rookie next year still if he doesn’t figure out how to understand pre-snap that the other team is in zone and have an idea of where the soft spots are.

How do the Broncos get to where they want to be at QB?

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. What the Broncos need to do going into the season is give Paxton Lynch every opportunity to get the work done he needs in order to take the starting job.

I’m not advocating that they just hand it to him and put all their attention there. But they should do everything they can to train him up, get a system for him to run that plays to his strengths, and let him show in the preseason that he’s got the goods. If he can’t look like our starter in the preseason, then he clearly isn’t ready yet.

The Broncos also need to find some serious answers at slot WR, TE, and RB. The personnel on the offensive side of the ball needs some serious attention no matter who is behind center. The one thing they need to not do is act like the Indianapolis Colts and surround a possible stud QB with subpar talent.

The biggest thing that QBs in the NFL can do to improve their game is to actually play it. Aaron Rodgers stories are rare in this day and age of the NFL. The more play Lynch can get, the better.

Closing thoughts

I think hiring Mike McCoy is a huge asset to the development of Lynch especially. Why? Because he’s shown that he can adjust his offense to his players (Tebow). He’s also worked with the best in Peyton Manning. I feel like he has a great pulse on today’s game and shows a big preference for the passing game (almost to a fault).

QB posts tend to get pretty polarizing. Keep in mind that this is at the end of the day just one guy’s opinion. No one here is right 100% of the time. Let’s share opinions and thoughts in the comments below, but do our best have a healthy discussion. If you disagree completely, feel free to talk about why...that way maybe I can learn something from the different viewing angle you bring to the table.