I will lose my ability to write about Denver sports if I don’t address the Broncos Quarterback Competition between Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian.
The Denver sports mob boss is imposing. Built like a lineman, he sits in a smoky bar all day watching Denver media people. He reads all of the articles. He listens to the radio shows simultaneously. He watches each sports anchor in succession. He sees everything. He runs this sports town. He’s had one directive since January—talk about the Broncos quarterback battle.
So you can imagine my terror when two of his lackeys, both wearing Tim Tebow jerseys, brought me in for a chat.
Of course this never happened. There is no Denver sports mob outside of Twitter. 5280 Sports Net lets me write about what I want. However, a mob boss is, at least, a reasonable explanation for why Lynch vs. Siemian is the only sports topic anyone seems to care about in Denver. How can everyone not be tired of this?
We’ve endured this endless talk about other Broncos quarterback battles for years now. Last summer it was Mark Sanchez vs. Paxton Lynch. Before that it was Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning. There was even some Tim Tebow vs. Peyton Manning conversation.
The constant quarterback talk is part of a larger problem with current football coverage. Fans want guarantees—they want to know exactly what’s going to happen before it happens. That’s not what makes sports great. Uncertainty is what makes the games so much fun (unless you’re following sports for gambling purposes).
Here’s a refresher on the power of prediction in the NFL. Last year, the Atlanta Falcons odds to win the Super Bowl were 40/1. The New York Jets had the same odds. The Falcons were a quarter away from winning the Super Bowl, while the Jets…
No one actually knows how the season will play out. No one even knows how Siemian vs. Lynch will play out. There’s no runaway favorite in this competition—so both men have a shot.
This will be my one piece on Siemian vs. Lynch until the preseason. There are a few points that I think are being ignored in this conversation. Then I will retreat into the Colorado Rockies great adventure until August.
The Broncos Plan
Team Lynch vs Team Siemian: Backing one quarterback over the other is childish. Aren’t we all rooting for the Broncos? Why do we care as long as the best man wins? I believe that Siemian is better suited for the job but I’d be thrilled if Lynch handily won the competition and had a great career for the next decade. The Broncos just need an outstanding quarterback. The biased coverage based on someone backing their guy isn’t informing fans of anything.
The Arm: Lynch is the more athletically gifted player—that’s obvious. Being the better athlete led Tim Tebow to be removed for Manning (who was less of an athlete than most NFL quarterbacks during his days with the Broncos). Brock Osweiler and Jay Cutler are both great athletes. How did that work out? You can be mobile and have a very strong arm and still not be a great quarterback. However, both Lynch and Siemian need to become more accurate to win the job this season.
The Head Problem: Last year for the Jacksonville game, the rumor was that the Broncos reduced their playbook for the game because Lynch hadn’t memorized it yet. This really disturbed me. It’s the biggest reason that I am concerned about Lynch. The quarterback has to have the highest football IQ on the offense. It’s how Manning won games well past his prime. It’s how Elway executed “the drive” and “helicopter dive”. In their first seasons as NFL quarterbacks, Siemian was the smarter quarterback. I hope Lynch can catch up, but I have doubts.
The Northwestern Grad: Do some people hate Siemian because he went to Northwestern? This ridiculous theory has more weight than I hoped. There does seem to be a bias against Siemian based on his intelligence. It’s a lot easier to see yourself as Memphis University graduate Lynch. There are two jobs where I always want the person to be smarter than I am—President of the United States and Denver Broncos Quarterback.
The Drive: Siemian wanted it more last year. That’s how he won the job. It’s also the reason that players respect Siemian so much. It was the players, not the coaches, who made Siemian a captain last year. And there are dire consequences when a coach goes against the locker room…
The Leadership Problem: Mike Shanahan twice chose against the majority opinion of his locker room. He started rookie Brian Griese over locker room pick Bubby Brister. He switched to Jay Cutler over Jake Plummer. Both decisions lost Shanahan positive team chemistry for that year. Players know who should start. If the Broncos go with a guy that the players don’t back, it could cost the team games and could ultimately breakup Denver’s stellar defense.
The Conversation: Each of my points above has a counterpoint, I’m sure. I think the Broncos have a plan that will change if they fall out of the playoff race. Hopefully, by next year recently drafted quarterback Chad Kelly can join these debates, because three is always better than two. Right?
This post originally appeared on 5280 Sports Network, now a part of Mile High Sports