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My so called quarterback competition

As Bronco Country gapes in wonder of yet another quarterback competition, let me share some No Bull ideas on what we are seeing from our two front running quarterbacks

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NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The talk of the Denver Broncos training camp is the quarterback battle and in today’s gaudy pass-happy NFL game, maybe that is just as it should be.

Saying that the QB is the most important player on a NFL team should be cliche to everyone who follows the game. This is a Big Deal™. Most of the team’s success rests on who they choose as QB and what that QB develops into in the next few years.

This year is a really big year for Denver and John Elway in particular. What happens at the QB position is going to be key to the team’s ability to stay in the hunt as our fan base has grown so accustomed to over the years.

Dispelling some myths

For you MHR faithful who have read me for a long time know, I’m all about calling it like I see it and sharing with you my insights on what is happening with the Denver Broncos. Let me start by busting some myths about the NFL QB and what this competition is.

Raw talent does weigh heavily on the decision.

It is pretty popular to hear NFL fans talk about Joe Montana and Tom Brady as examples of QBs who lacked in some of the physical talent areas, but still were / are wildly successful QBs.

To that I say, “Sure.” But I’d like to point out that they are the exception in the NFL, not the rule. Take a peek at the top 15 starting QBs of 2016 as rated by PFF (yes I know the article is about QB “situations” but just use the starters listed for the intents of my point here). Of those 15, Tom Brady alone is the guy I can call athletically average with a limited range on his passes. All of the other 14 have the ability to stretch the field, the ability to use their legs, or both.

Draft position does matter.

When you check out the NFL QB landscape, again we have a situation where the vast majority of starting NFL QBs are drafted in the 1st round. It tapers off from there, but guys like Tom Brady (6th round) and Dak Prescott (4th Round) are rare.

Why are the majority of starting NFL QBs drafted so highly? Go back to my earlier points. They are super important. Teams invest a ton of time, money, and energy in scouting out QBs for the game as finding the good ones are key to having a successful franchise in the NFL.

I’ll just say that fans love an underdog and as such are oftentimes looking for the next Tom Brady. I find this rather akin to playing the lottery. Teams aren’t troweling the late rounds of the draft for a QB because that isn’t how it works.

Not everything said in a press conference is the truth.

This especially applies to questions about quarterbacks. There’s a certain level of gamesmanship that goes into what is said in front of a camera. Why do you think the Broncos pay Patrick Smyth the big bucks? If you pay attention closely, his work is all over what comes out of Dove Valley. It has been for years and he’s really really good at what he does. This is a guy that saw us through the Tebow years for goodness sake. The Broncos as an organization are one of the best at talking around subjects without giving away much of any concrete substance.

Putting the pieces together

So what is going on right now? Why is there so much hype about both QBs? Why do I hear conflicting reports from different outlets on which guy is “winning the competition”?

Here are some possible reasons:

  • The new coaches don’t know enough about the players to know which basket to put their eggs in yet
  • It keeps the other 31 teams guessing if there is a lot of hubbub about it which is a strategic advantage early in the season
  • The team profits by having drama in the public relations arena...if you are getting talked about, it is a benefit to the team
  • Some players need a fire under them to really step forward and grow. Also, you can find out about their mental makeup by having their jobs on the line in a big way

I’ve already said I’m not buying the Bull that is being sold to Broncos Country about an honest to goodness QB competition. There’s too much going on here that I’ve seen in some form or fashion from one of the many QB controversies we’ve been through as Broncos fans (Elway / Maddox, Griese / Brister, Plummer / Cutler, Orton / Tebow, Manning / Osweiler).

You can honestly already see some backpedaling in the MSM. A month or more ago you had guys that were absolutely bat ish crazy about Siemian being the dude. Those same guys are starting to say things along the lines of, “if both QBs play similarly, Lynch wins the competition by default” (which I agree with entirely). That they even have backed off their hill at all is something you can use to read between the lines.

Let me come at this another way that is more nuts and bolts...let’s talk about the field of play a bit:

If you have two QBs and one has the ability to throw 25+ yard passes semi-accurately, it is very hard to go with the guy with the more limited arm. Defensive Backs in the NFL are no joke and the windows you have to complete deep passes in the NFL vs the college game are completely different worlds. If you can lead a WR appropriately on blown coverage, it will absolutely devastate a NFL defense and make them back their defense up to cover for that weakness.

Siemian can learn to play a little more loosely with the ball, but he’s not going to all of a sudden develop an arm that flings deep passes on the dot. The guy lacks the build to do so and already is using sound technique to sling the ball deep as he does. Let me be clear: I’m not saying Siemian can’t pass it deep...that’s pure nonsense. I’m saying he lacks the arm to be able to have the control needed on his deep passes to hit his receivers in stride. Too many times he either wildly overthrows his targets or more often under throws them which requires them to come back and adjust to the ball (which also allows their defenders to adjust as well and get back into the play to defend the pass).

The ability to scramble in today’s game also is a huge weapon and one that is potent even in small doses. A great example of this is Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs. He doesn’t run that often, but he sure does pick up a lot of 1st downs with his feet. The ability to do that puts a ton of pressure on a NFL defense especially if it wants to play man coverage. Not having the scrambling ability at any decent level in the NFL today is like playing a game of chess without one of your knights. That Paxton Lynch has better scrambling ability is an actual thing. Passing purists may want to poo poo the notion and talk down their noses at him tucking and running too often, but I’d say those same people are stuck a couple decades back from today’s NFL game. It is a tool he is good at and one that he can lean on as he gets acclimated to the NFL game.

If Paxton doesn’t start

Let’s wrap up with this thought: Paxton Lynch is the only thing that is going to keep Paxton Lynch from starting in the orange and blue this year. Elway wants this kid to succeed. The team knew he was a project that needed development. They brought in a great staff to help train him up.

He will struggle with throwing against zone coverage and likely zone blitz looks. He will struggle also with intermediate timing routes. Those are things that any young QB in the NFL will struggle with. It is up to him to work with his coaches and get better in those areas of weakness.

As a fan of the Broncos, I’m very excited for this season as it is one of great opportunity. The future of the Broncos is unfolding right in front of us and I’m excited to see the development of a young man with all the raw tools as he learns the NFL craft, how to be a leader, and hopefully how to be a winner.