Vance Joseph just took his first big step as an NFL head coach – he chose a starting quarterback.
After a QB competition between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch that officially began in OTAs – but unofficially was an extension of last season’s ongoing conversation – Joseph put a decisive end to a rather divisive issue.
“It’s a huge deal to name a starter at any position. It’s a permanent decision,” the coach said. “It was just getting it right, so we’re not back pedaling in two weeks. Trevor is the guy.”
And now the Broncos’ third preseason game officially becomes Joseph’s second big step as an NFL head coach – moving forward with a QB and a game plan to give the No. 1 offense much-needed chemistry.
Beginning today and from here on out, Siemian will play with the 1s and Lynch with the 2s.
And Joseph is expecting his new starter to “be himself” and play like the leader he needs to be to take the team back to the playoffs.
“He’s a bright guy. He’s focused,” Joseph said, adding that Siemian doesn’t get the credit he deserves for also having a great arm. “Just be yourself, Trevor. Use your weapons. Be a leader and play good football for us. That’s all we want.”
That’s all is no small request given the expectations for playoffs and championships around Dove Valley, but Joseph believes his second-year starter, third-year player and seventh-round draft pick is the one to take the team back.
Siemian is embracing that responsibility.
“You’re a leader of the team and you have to embrace that, and I do,” he said. “But also, I’m just going to be myself, be authentic, a good teammate and be a good quarterback. Hopefully, guys can rely on me. That’s my mindset.”
Joseph noted more than once that the decision had to come down to performance - especially in games - and that’s where Siemian’s consistency shined.
“It’s a performance-based business, not potential. [Lynch] is a guy with rare talent, and with time, he will be a good quarterback,” Joseph said. “But at this moment, right now, Trevor is the best guy for our team moving forward.”
Joseph emphasized it was a tough decision, with two different-style quarterbacks aiming for separation. The competition came down to a 12th-round decision rather than a KO, but Joseph has no qualms about the victor.
“It was a discussion. Obviously it was a four- to five-month evaluation, and when you watch Paxton’s physical traits, they’re fun to watch,” he said. “For a coach, to have a 6-foot-5 guy with a big arm who can run his own read and scramble, that’s exciting for us. It was close.”
But again Joseph reiterated the job can’t go to the guy with more potential over the guy with more consistent performance.
“It’s all about performance not potential,” Joseph said. “Trevor is ready to lead our football team. We’ve got two receivers that are All-Pro caliber, we’ve got a great backfield and fixed the offensive line. We need a guy who can operate at a high level all of the time.”
#Broncos QB comparison:— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensBSN) August 20, 2017
Paxton Lynch: 9/13, 39 yards,0 TD, 72.3 rating, 1 sack
Trevor Siemian: 8/11, 93 yards, 1 TD, 128.2 rating, 0 sacks
Siemian was excited to be named the starter but is more excited about moving on from “competition” to real preparation.
“I’m really just excited about moving forward, playing this week and starting the season off,” he said, noting that it will be good to get some continuity with the No. 1 offense in practice and the game. “We have a good team. I’m excited to get to work.”
Lynch was “obviously” disappointed not to be starting but has no plans to change his preparation.
“I gave everything I had to go out there and win the job, but at the end of the day the coaches made a decision and now I’m at the point where I’m at,” Lynch said. “I just have to prepare and be ready because a lot of guys in this league are always one play away from getting in, so that’s how I’m going to prepare.”
And that’s how his coach wants him to prepare.
“Every guy on our team who is a backup, who battled for a job – it’s disappointing, absolutely it is – but you’re one play from being back in action,” Joseph said. “When he plays again, it’s going to be obviously important. Who knows when he plays, but when he does it’s going to be critical that he plays well.”
Here's the latest Broncos depth chart without the "OR" at quarterback pic.twitter.com/5UZcHVAZi6— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 22, 2017
Coming to a decision on the quarterback was also important for the team – so it can get behind “the guy” and start preparing as a unit.
“The team was OK,” Joseph said of announcing the decision. “They were prepared for it and watching the reactions in the room, it wasn’t a surprise, it was like, ‘OK, Trevor’s the guy. We’re going to support Trevor and Paxton – move forward.’”
For Siemian, moving forward means still competing to be better every day, but he believes he belongs in the NFL as a starter.
“I hope so. I think I can. I have a long way to go. I know where I can get better. I also know some of the things I can do well,” he said. “I try to do a good job of taking it one day and rep at a time.”
And with each rep, Siemian says he is gaining confidence in himself and in the new offense.
“I just really like the scheme a lot and I don’t just speak for myself. I know everybody is enjoying the scheme. ...I think we have a good chance to attack defenses a lot of different ways,” he said, adding that the improved line and depth at running back will be a big help this season. “The guys we’ve added have brought an edge to that group up front. Every back we have in that room has done a good job so far in camp. ...There’s a lot to be excited about.”