As we’re all well aware by now, the Denver Broncos announced yesterday that starting quarterback Trevor Siemian has been benched in favor of former-and-current Bronco Brock Osweiler. There’s some renewed hope in that, or at least change, which at this point might be interchangeable with hope for Broncos fans. But can the team’s new starting QB avoid the same fate that befell Siemian?
For that answer, we need to first decide what it was that got Siemian benched. There are a lot of words and phrases that you could toss out here: ball security, confidence or lack thereof, pass protection, progressing through reads, accuracy, locking in on the first read, drops by receivers, etc. But what it all boils down to is decision making. Make the right decisions, quickly enough, and most all of those factors can be compensated for and overcome if they’re otherwise lacking. Make bad decisions, and issues in any other area that might otherwise have been minor suddenly become major problems.
Trevor Siemian showed us that he could pull off most NFL plays, even if some of them took luck or banged up opponents to provide the deciding edge. The potential is/was there, even if it sometimes compared poorly to other QBs who have better measurables. But what he couldn’t do, in the end, was consistently make good decisions with the football.
Siemian went from throwing just 10 interceptions last year to 10 in half a season this year. What changed? In some ways, not much. Siemian repeatedly got very lucky with dropped interceptions in 2016, and part of his 2017 fate is just luck regressing toward the mean. But, unfortunately for him, he then compounded the issue by allowing the pressure to force him into bad habits and bad decisions.
The result? A bounty of ugly turnovers.
As for Brock Osweiler, that’s the one thing he needs to avoid at all costs. He should still take reasonable risks, of course. The offense needs some success and momentum to get going again, and there’ll be some inherent risk in going for the occasional big play. But Osweiler needs to step into this job understanding that the Denver Broncos don’t need a QB to step in and be the hero. They don’t need him to put the team on his back and win games by his own merit. No. They just need him to do his job and complement the team around him.
Most of all, the Broncos need a QB who keeps the ball in the good guys’ hands.
The Broncos are -11 in turnover margin at this point in the season, with 17 turnovers given up to just 6 forced. Trevor Siemian accounted for 12 of those 17 turnovers all by himself. And due in large part to his play, the Chiefs started 5 drives in Denver territory last Sunday. That, more than any other factor, is what got him benched. Even Head Coach Vance Joseph will admit that.
Brock Osweiler is very likely just a stopgap; another band-aid at the QB position while the Broncos search for their long term answer. But if he wants to be more than that, his best bet is to do it by 1) keeping the ball safe and 2) getting it to the open receiver. If those two things start happening, this offense might just turn around in a hurry.
But is it likely?
Well... probably not, based on Osweiler’s history. He threw just 15 touchdowns beside 16 interceptions last season as a Houston Texan. And his 10 TD, 6 Int mark as a 7 game starter for the Broncos in 2015 was an average outcome at best. It’ll be up to him to prove that he’s learned and grown from some pretty humbling experiences since he last started a game as a Denver Bronco. If he can’t do it, no one will be shocked. But if he can, things could get interesting.
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