ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos have now completed Week 2 of the still wide-open quarterback competition of training camp.
The players will have an off day Sunday and then begin a week that will include two joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers as well as Saturday’s game against the 49ers. That could offer coach Gary Kubiak enough information to make a decision to have a starter in place before the Aug. 27 game against the Los Angeles Rams.
That's could, as in if one of the three quarterbacks finally breaks free and gets out front.
However, at the moment, it's still up for grabs and if Kubiak had been asked after Saturday morning's practice to pick one, he might well have circled none of the above as he offered; “I’m not real happy with practice.’’ But the new week will bring new opportunities so here’s where things stand with the Broncos' three quarterbacks and what the Broncos likely want to see from each to declare any of them starter material:
Mark Sanchez: Sanchez got the start in the preseason opener against the Chicago Bears and finished his quarter of work 10-of-13 for 99 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Overall, Sanchez has moments when he looks like the guy who has started 72 career regular-season games and is the clear No. 1, but that’s when he stays on time in his progressions. When he rushes things early in the play, gets impatient, or when the play gets extended, that’s when the majority of his mistakes have come because in those moments he has often forced things when he shouldn’t. In recent practices he has had three interceptions returned for what would have been touchdowns in games – two by Bradley Roby in the past week and one by Lorenzo Doss in Saturday’s practice. If he doesn’t earn the job it will be that propensity to force the issue when he’s out of sync on the play that has cost him. He simply has to clean it up. He has has averaged slightly more than an interception a game in his career, and Kubiak simply may not be willing to live with that ratio.
Trevor Siemian: Siemian continues to show rare arm strength and the best understanding of the offense. He has done his homework, and it shows. After all, he worked with Peyton Manning for a season and before training camp he took the initiative and contacted former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer for an extended conversation about the nuances of Kubiak’s offense. Plummer had the best seasons of his career in the offense, including 4,089 yards passing and 27 touchdowns in 2004. And when Plummer threw 20 interceptions in '04, Kubiak helped him cut that to just seven interceptions in '05, so he certainly counts as an expert opinion. With that intel, Siemian continues to power the ball to all parts of the field and is usually unflappable even in the face of the Broncos’ snarling defense. But if he’s going to win the job, he has to turn up the volume a bit, show he’s a leader, show he will be the Alpha of the offense and gather the group if things aren’t right or even get in the wheelhouse of a veteran player if he has to. He has been consistent in the passing game, but Kubiak has consistently said he’s looking for the guy “who will lead this team.’’ You can be mild-mannered most of the time, but at some point the quarterback has get out front and take control. So if Siemian wants to be that guy then he has to show Kubiak he has the chops to run the team before and after the play too.
Paxton Lynch: Two things are abundantly clear after watching Lynch work in training camp. The first he has consistently shown the physical attributes that enticed the Broncos to trade up in the first round to take him. And the second is he still needs some time to get his bearings in the offense. Football patience will be a virtue with Lynch given the enormous potential and the powerful arm he has shown in camp. But he has a long way to go on the learning curve and still struggles at times when asked to play under center since he never did it at the University of Memphis. It would be like a student getting his degree in chemistry and then being asked to fly a 727 – he went to school, but the job he has been asked to do is much different than what he learned. He’ll likely be the Broncos' starter someday, but it would be best for all involved, including him, if it were not this season.