ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It’s just June, but in a way it feels like the most dogged days of summer as Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak keeps cranking up the offseason heat on his quarterbacks.
The Broncos haven’t named a starter for the coming season and won’t until Kubiak sees what he wants to see from one of the three players pursuing the job -- Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch. Sanchez closed out the team’s mandatory minicamp last week as if he had a slight lead, but Siemian’s power arm will always be enticing to the Broncos as will the fact he is a prospect they have groomed since taking him in the 2015 draft. While Lynch needs plenty of work, the first-round pick is a rare find athletically.
“We’re all in there competing,’’ Sanchez said. “We know that. Every day, every single day, it’s about doing the things you’re supposed to do if you want to lead this team and be a part of success.’’
Kubiak, after a career of playing quarterback and then coaching the position as well, always and forever will talk of the need of one of the candidates to “step forward.’’ And by that he means in word and deed.
That means play like The Man, act like The Man and talk like The Man, and that’s through the ups and downs, wins and losses, mistakes and touchdowns. And ain’t nobody got time, especially Kubiak, for the don’t-worry-about-it approach.
“There is no time for leeway,’’ Kubiak said. “There is really not. Mark (Sanchez) is a veteran. He’s had the book. Nobody has worked harder than Mark ... He’s got to play really well for this team, and he’s capable of doing that. We’re going to hold him, Trevor and Paxton to that standard for our team. Work the hell out of them and they have to do their job.’’
So, the Broncos quarterbacks can use a long list of words to describe what they’ve done so far in the team’s offseason program or to describe what’s to come in training camp as well as the preseason later this summer. But they cannot use the word “just.’’
As in it’s just practice or it’s just one drill or just one play. Because the Broncos are keeping score on all of it in a winner-take-all affair.
“I think my mindset has been all the way through that I can’t worry about (the decision) because that’s out of my hands,’’ Siemian said. “What I can do is make the most of every rep I get, every play I run. I think we all know they’re all important and we treat them like that.’’
Kubiak has said he will keep the heat on -- “the standard here’’ -- because while he believes each of the three quarterbacks has the qualifications for the job, he wants to see a winner emerge on the field. Because he feels the team around the quarterback wants, and needs, to see a winner emerge on the field.
“I have to have a handoff, or a catch or a ball thrown from all of them,’’ said running back C.J. Anderson. “ ... I just think the rhythm is good. Whoever is in there starting, we’ll be ready to go.’’
Kubiak said he will have a depth chart in place when the team opens training camp in late July, but that depth chart will not be carved in stone. A depth chart doesn’t mean Kubiak wouldn’t divvy up the work equally among the three quarterbacks in those early training camp practices.
But for now many players privately say Sanchez looks like the starter unless his play becomes erratic in training camp, but that Siemian has made it a closer decision than many thought it would be. With the Broncos defense and an expected increase in rushing attempts in a more determined run game, mistakes will likely tell the tale.
Kubiak said this past week he addressed red-zone work with Sanchez specifically on Thursday. For his part, Lynch has the look of a future starter for the Broncos, but he has plenty of nuts-and-bolts work to do in his footwork and other parts of his transition into the NFL.
“The most important thing is getting out there, getting completions, understanding where to go with the football, what to do and making good decisions,’’ Sanchez said. “... That’s going to be the goal. That’s what helps put this team in position to win and that’s what we all want.’’