The biggest question mark heading into this season was (and still is) quarterback play. “Can the new coaching staff get enough out of the QB position to make a playoff run?” has been the prevailing narrative for months.
Well, I don’t have an answer for the playoff run, yet, but we got a clearer picture of the potential on Monday night.
Trevor Siemian had a really good game in my opinion, one that was better than his stat line of 17/28, 219 yards, and 2/1 TD/INT ratio might show.
What stuck out to me was improvements over some of last year’s deficiencies, more than just raw stats or big plays, although some of those improvements led to big plays.
Here are five throws that showed to me Trevor Siemian has taken another step in his development and has improved from last year.
The first throw is a mix of improvement by Trevor, and also improvement in the offensive scheme, which shouldn’t surprise anyone that the two are closely linked.
The Chargers played a version of Cover 1 most of the game, man coverage with a lone free safety over the top.
This is very similar to how most teams played us last year. Load the box, play tight man coverage, and dare the passing game to beat them.
Siemian is going to find Jeff Heuerman up the seam manned up on a linebacker (circled in yellow).
The two other guys he needs to pay attention to are the linebacker in the middle, and the safety over the top. The play action sucks the MLB up so Siemian just has to put it over him, and hit Heuerman before the free safety closes down.
The two things that are significant about this throw:
1) Denver is getting the TEs involved up the seam. How many times last year did we scream for more of these kind of plays?
2) Siemian fits a ball into tight traffic, throws over the middle, and challenges the defense vertically, all of which he struggled to do last year.
This one is maybe my favorite. Again it’s straight man coverage. Siemian recognizes this pre-snap because Derby comes in motion and his man follows him.
This is something McCoy does often, pre-snap motion and formations to clue the QB in to what the defense is doing. He also uses formations to create mismatches/favorable matchups.
Here you have Demaryius Thomas 1 on 1 with Casey Hayward. Because of the formation, the free safety is going to be inclined to cheat towards the trips to the open side of the field.
Siemian executes a beautiful pump fake to get the free safety moving away from DT, and then just puts it up for his guy to go get it.
Check out the ball placement as well. Deep ball accuracy was an area I wanted to see improvement from Siemian in, and he places this one outside away from the defender where Demaryius can create space and make the catch.
This second touchdown throw from Siemian was better than the first freelanced one, for me. The Chargers are in quarters coverage with the short zones underneath.
Fowler is going to settle into a gap in the zone, and Siemian again does a nice job of moving the free safety with his eyes to open up Fowler.
What I like about this throw is it shows improvement on two more problems Trevor showed last year. Inability to score in the red zone, and checking it down short instead of throwing into traffic. Ball placement is also on point; low and away from the linebacker.
Check out CJ Anderson at the bottom of the screen. Wide open if Siemian wants him, but instead he looks off the safety, is decisive with the throw and rifles it into Fowler for the score.
I like this throw as it demonstrates Siemian’s pre-snap processing and comfort level in the new offense.
This is essentially an audibled run/pass option between Siemian and DT. The line blocks for a run and Charles even thinks it’s a stretch zone to the left, but Siemian saw the 9-man box, and DT’s corner playing off and decides to pull up and throw the slant.
Good recognition by Trevor, and good on McCoy for incorporating these into the playbook.
Have I mentioned I really like this offense?
Best throw for last. The Chargers have just scored two touchdowns within one minute of game time and have brought the score within three points.
Going into the drive, me and I’m sure all of Broncos Country were calling for an answer from the offense. This was a critical point in the game where Denver needed some momentum.
Virgil Green is 1 on 1 against a linebacker, and is going to run straight up the seam. The free safety is again cheating towards the wide side of the field, and to the two star WRs over there.
Siemian hangs in the pocket while getting illegally blasted by Melvin Ingram, and delivers a dime to Green.
Big moment, big play needed, and the quarterback delivers. This throw to me showed guts and moxy, and all the other intangible buzzwords you want to use; Trevor showed it on that play.
I haven’t been what you would call a “fan” of Trevor Siemian at quarterback, frankly because I didn’t like what I consistently saw on tape last year. I was in “wait and see” mode heading into this season.
So far, I like what I see. I’ve seen Trevor demonstrate improvement in nearly every area he was criticized for and showed deficiency in last year. Yes, it is only one game, but this one game has me encouraged and eager to see what’s next for this kid.
Color me impressed and hopeful.