ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos' two quarterbacks know the competition for the starting job in the weeks and months to come will be about the hardcore football matters.
It will be about footwork and preparation, accuracy and anticipation with the ball and the ability to construct touchdown drives. But Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch also know it’s about presence, about leadership, about keeping the team pointed in the right direction.
And being that strong front-of-the-line voice in the locker room can be a tall order for one quarterback who is 25 (Siemian) or 23 (Lynch). Siemian got a look at the job description when he started 14 games as a team captain last season -- chosen by his teammates -- but as he competes to be the starter again, he said he must advance that part of his game.
“I’ve tried to be the same guy since I walked into the building,’’ Siemian said. “Obviously my role has changed a little bit, but just be the same guy, work hard and be a good teammate. I think that helps. I’m not the only one like that by any means. We have a heck of a locker room. I’m really fortunate to be a part of that group. I’m looking forward to see how this thing comes together.’’
When asked if he thought he could be a leader in an offense still searching a calendar year after Peyton Manning retired, he added: “There is no reason not to. Playing obviously helps. It was my first year playing last year. As I get older and play more reps and do those types of things, that’s kind of my role moving forward.”
One of the main criteria former coach Gary Kubiak used in making the selection at quarterback last summer, after a camp competition between Siemian, Mark Sanchez and Lynch, was: “How I saw the quarterback run the team, in the huddle, in practice, in meetings.’’
Lynch started two games last season and as he enters his second season, his demeanor with his teammates will be part of the equation as well. Lynch, who will be with his second offensive coordinator in as many seasons in Mike McCoy, said he believes the faster he gets a handle on the offense, the more his teammates will see he’s ready for the job.
“To me it’s just really worrying about myself and focusing on myself, knowing what I’ve got to do day in, day out, to win the trust of these guys,’’ Lynch said. “Become a leader and show these guys I can carry the team.’’
Lynch has expressed hope McCoy’s offense will be a little friendlier to his skill set than the Broncos’ offense under Kubiak. However, the Broncos traded up in the first round to select Lynch in last April’s draft with the idea that he would run Kubiak’s offense in the future, so his transition into McCoy's offense will take his full attention.
“Some of the stuff that we’ve seen, I know he’s going to put us in the shotgun a little bit more,’’ Lynch said. “That is one thing I am definitely excited about just because my whole college system was shotgun, really. I know we’re going to have to get under center. Pressing the ball downfield, I’m definitely excited about that, too. Having the opportunity to run around a little bit, that excites me.”
McCoy has also said he will tailor the offense to whichever quarterback is behind center. That is a thought coach Vance Joseph has echoed as well.
Joseph said last week: “I think the structure of your offense won’t change. That would come into play more when the game-planning stuff starts in the fall. Right now, the overall structure won’t change whether it is Trevor or Paxton playing the quarterback position for us now. It’s Mike’s basic offense, basic route tree and basic run game going in, so that won’t change until the fall.’’
So, in the end, whether it’s eventually Siemian or Lynch that is named the starter, the quarterback will have to look, and act, the part well beyond the play that gets called in the huddle.
“I’m really excited,’’ Siemian said. “I’m really excited to get rolling.’’