Trevor Siemian proved me wrong
More often than not in this profession, you’re proven wrong by things you take a stance on.
Just a few weeks ago I said that the Denver Broncos would be perfectly fine with Mark Sanchez under center and that Trevor Siemian — he of 0(!) career passes in the NFL — had virtually no shot at winning the starting job for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Fast forward a few weeks and, well … yeah. Oops.
I admit I completely missed the boat with that prediction. Just like I missed the boat predicting the Carolina Panthers would beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Oh well.
You win some, you lose some.
Good for Siemian though. He’s definitely earned the opportunity to lead the Broncos’ offense onto the field next Thursday to open the regular season against the Panthers. He’s actually proven a lot of naysayers wrong during the QB battle. Now, he’s stepping into an almost perfect situation with the Broncos.
Siemian won’t be asked to do much under Gary Kubiak with a strong running game and an other-worldly defense on the other side. That bodes well for the former Northwestern QB that was drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft after his college career was cut short due to a knee injury.
But if we can take anything away from preseason games, Siemian looks up to the task of leading the Broncos this season.
He throws a good ball in a tight spiral that is accurate and very catchable despite having some heat on it. That, one would think, played a major factor into him winning the job. His arm is much stronger than Sanchez’s, and he takes care of the football, which is — and has been — a major problem for Sanchez throughout his career.
Now, Siemian will be tasked with being a game-manager for the Broncos until rookie Paxton Lynch is ready to take the starting reigns for good.
When the news broke that Siemian was named the starter, I went back and watched every throw of his during the preseason. He was an accurate passer who made decisions quickly. However, almost every single one of his throws came off of a simple one- or two-read route concept designed to get the ball out of his hand quickly to a receiver with space to work with.
That’s not a knock on Siemian, because I think he can take on added responsibility throughout the season. But it’s clear that the coaching staff doesn’t trust him to do more right now, and that’s been the case with all three quarterbacks this summer into the fall. The simpler the system and the less reads needed, the less of a chance there is for a turnover.
Through three preseason games, Siemian is 27-for-43 for 285 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He won’t play Thursday against Arizona as Lynch will play the whole game, so those numbers don’t look bad overall for Siemian.
The two interceptions are concerning, but his last pick against Los Angeles last Friday clearly hit the ground. The officials failed to overturn it. Against the Rams, Siemian really cemented himself as the starter, clicking early and often with Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Virgil Green, marching the Broncos up and down the field in the first half. With the running game stalling early against Los Angeles’ tough front seven, it was up to Siemian to throw the ball around and open up some running lanes for CJ Anderson and Devontae Booker. He was able to do that consistently, including a beautiful touch throw down the right sideline to Thomas just before halftime that the star receiver hauled in with one hand while drawing a pass interference penalty.
With Siemian winning the job, it allows the Broncos to create a game plan for Carolina’s strong defense in Week One, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t really matter who is under center right now for the Broncos because of where their strengths are.
They won’t be a team under Kubiak that airs it out 40 times a game. They’re a balanced, conservative offense that craves ball control over big splash plays. Running the ball a ton and allowing their defense to feast on opposing offenses is how the Broncos will be successful this year.
Siemian is a feel-good story as the first Northwestern QB to start the regular season for a defending champion since Otto Graham started for the Cleveland Browns in 1955. I’m rooting for him to do well and I’m glad he proved me wrong.
Now it’s time to see just how well he’ll do against a team’s No. 1 defense for a full 60 minutes.
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