The Denver Broncos fell 42-28 to the Minnesota Vikings in the first preseason game for both teams on Saturday. The starting unit on both sides played just a few series, so the game was mostly about the battle on down the depth chart.
One move on the depth chart that seems clear is the one that moves Chad Kelly to number two and Paxton Lynch to number three at quarterback. Lynch completely bombed his 2018 debut against backups, while Kelly finished 14/21 for 177 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception in his.
Kelly spoke with the media after the game and kept his focus on the details high.
“I thought I did some good things today, but I obviously need to review the film,” Kelly said of his performance. “The line did a hell of a job up front, the running backs got open, the wide receivers caught the ball well and made plays. It was just another day, another practice. You just gotta go out there and learn from your mistakes and keep grinding because that’s how the game is.”
It was more than that, though. Chad Kelly was making all of the NFL throws and NFL decisions a young quarterback should be making naturally. Like this wheel route to a wide open receiver.
The throw was solid and catchable, both key factors lacking from Lynch’s game right now.
And if that doesn’t impress you, how about this throw with pressure all over him. Kelly stands tall, takes the big hit, and lobs an accurate pass over the middle to rookie Phillip Lindsay for the catch and score to take the lead.
These are two throws we just haven’t seen on a consistent basis from any Broncos quarterbacks in the last two years.
That isn’t to say Kelly should be starting any time soon. He is basically a rookie and still a third-string guy, but I see a lot more potential there than I ever saw with Lynch or Trevor Siemian. Even when I was calling for Lynch to start over Siemian, it was more due to my hope he was a better gamer than a practice player. He appears to be neither at this point.
For Kelly, he has the football IQ and knows where his weaknesses lie and is working to overcome them.
“Identifying if a man is in zone, read the coverages better,” Kelly said of what he needs to work on. “There’s so much I can get better at. Even the great ones have to get better each and every day. I can’t wait to watch the film, get back to work tomorrow and keep grinding.”
He’s competing for a roster spot, but in my eyes he has earned it. It is Paxton Lynch who should be on the bubble at this point.
Kelly is not looking at it the same way. He knows nothing is handed to a seventh-round pick. He still has a lot of work to do if he is going to convince the Broncos to change their course at the backup quarterback position.
“I can’t look at it that way,” Kelly said when asked if he should be the number two quarterback. “I have to make sure I keep my nose in the playbook and keep studying. I should have studied more on the main zone reads otherwise I wouldn’t have thrown a pick but it’s not about that. We go out there and learn each and every day, each and every practice, each and every snap. The game’s over. We look to the Chicago Bears and get better tomorrow.”
As we’ve seen from the Vikings, the Broncos have been very patient with Lynch and given up two other quarterbacks who seem to be understanding how to play quarterback in the NFL better than Lynch at this point. It would be a shame if they gave up a third to keep their former first-round pick hopes alive. Pride can be an ugly thing. Just ask the Chargers and their three-year odyssey with Ryan Leaf that culminated in a 1-15 record before they finally gave up on a bad first-round pick.