Every time Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph has talked about the team's quarterback competition -- the one he opened up almost as soon as he was hired in January -- he has said he wants to make the "right decision" and not necessarily the quickest one.
But with two preseason games now in the books, two games that included a start each for Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, this week could well provide the intersection of the right time and that "right decision." The Broncos will play their third preseason game Saturday night, against the Green Bay Packers, in what is both the Broncos' first home appearance of the preseason and what is expected to be the final exhibition appearance of any of the team's regulars.
Joseph also said as training camp opened last month that having a starter in place by this game would be "ideal," something he repeated after the Broncos' 33-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday at Levi's Stadium. Lynch finished the game 9-of-13 passing for 39 yards in almost a full half of work and was behind center for three short scoring drives: 11, 26 and 11 yards, respectively, with each following a 49ers turnover in San Francisco territory. Lynch also had 27 yards rushing.
Siemian, meanwhile, was 8-of-11 for 93 yards and a touchdown. The score came as Siemian led a drive in the closing minutes of the first half.
"I saw Paxton make some plays with his legs, which he should," Joseph said afterward. "He's an athlete. And Trevor, he was solid. He was Trevor. He made good decisions, his ball placement was on point tonight, he controlled the huddle. So I was pleased with Trevor."
In the Broncos' two preseason games, Siemian is 14-of-18 passing for 144 yards to go with the touchdown pass for a 118.5 passer rating. Lynch is 15-of-22 for 81 yards with no touchdowns, a passer rating of 74.2.
Joseph was asked immediately following the game against the 49ers if he had now seen enough to make the call on a starter and didn't tip his hand.
"I'm not sure, once we watch this tape and see where we are with that," Joseph said on KUSA's television broadcast. "Our time frame is not important, but getting it right is."
Siemian was asked if he had done enough to win the job, and the third-year pro replied: "I think so. I'm not the coach, but I think so."
The Broncos players will be off Sunday and return to work Monday in what will be a schedule that resembles a regular-season week for them.
If Joseph formally awards the job to Siemian this week, it would be slightly more quickly than former coach Gary Kubiak awarded Siemian the job last summer. Then, Siemian won a three-way battle, beating out Lynch and Mark Sanchez; Kubiak formally named Siemian the starter the Monday following the team's third preseason game, a game Siemian finished 10-of-17 passing against the Rams for 122 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
For his part, Joseph has said he believes the decision this time around will be clear when he sees "separation" between Siemian and Lynch, the No. 26 overall pick in the 2016 draft. Siemian's work on the touchdown drive just before halftime Saturday -- he was 5-of-6 passing -- will certainly help his cause there.
Siemian threw what would have been a touchdown pass to running back De'Angelo Henderson, but the play was negated by a holding penalty on Garett Bolles. Siemian bounced back to throw a touchdown pass -- to Jordan Taylor -- on the next play. Siemian then led a 12-play field goal drive to open the second half.
Asked if he had a timetable for the decision in his mind, president of football operations/general manager John Elway offered this Thursday after two days' worth of practices against the 49ers:
"We've talked about that decision being made by itself. We want one of them to take the reins and take over; it would be the ideal situation. We're getting through this game and we'll go from there, see what happens."