Broncos QB Trevor Siemian needs to make better decisions

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With every throw Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian makes in his first season as a starter, school is in session.

And on the syllabus is a section about decision-making. He has thrown three interceptions in his two career NFL starts. All three have been snagged by a leaping defender who got to a ball Siemian likely didn't think was in harm's way.

"He's made some poor decisions, athletic decisions," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. "I know that sounds kind of crazy, but it's just learning that, 'Trevor, That guy can make that play. You're not in college anymore. You're not going to throw that ball through that guy.' I think some of the speed of the game factors that he's beginning to understand a little bit is going to make him better each week."

First there was Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei leaping to swat a pass that Thomas Davis then intercepted. Then there was Panthers cornerback Bene Benwikere leaping to snag a long ball that would have been a touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders if Siemian would have put a little more air under the throw.

And then this past Sunday, Indianapolis Colts cornerback Darius Butler leaped to snag another Siemian line drive. And Butler likely would have turned the play into a touchdown had he not injured his hamstring during the return.

"It's just getting a feel for these guys," Siemian said. " … It's just a feel thing and getting around those guys, but I feel good about it and working on cleaning it up."

Siemian has impressed both coaches and teammates with his composure, confidence and arm strength to go with the ability to throw on time in the offense.

But he started just 18 games in at Northwestern until he suffered a torn ACL in his senior season and spent his first NFL season as the Broncos' No. 3 or No. 2 quarterback. Siemian played one regular season snap in his rookie year and that was a kneel-down against the Pittsburgh Steelers in December.

That means, despite all of the reasons Siemian won the job, there is still a steep learning curve. Part of that process is, as Peyton Manning said, "you learn what passes you can, and can't throw, in certain situations."

Siemian's three interceptions are certainly testaments to that. Because all three likely would have been long gains if Siemian has thrown the ball with a little more finesse for the situation.

Kubiak said part of the discussion is avoiding those mistakes while maintaining the confidence Siemian has shown by throwing passes into tight windows.

"There are times that you are sitting there in a game, you're down three, you have a great defense -- do I try to make this throw or that throw? I think some of that probably creeps into your mind, but we really want to get that out," Kubiak said. "We want him to play and be aggressive in what he's doing. We threw it 33 times [against the Colts]. We trust him with the ball and that's all over the field. I think he'll continue to grow in some of those situations."

There is also the matter of finishing drives. While the Broncos have moved the ball effectively -- they've had 12 possessions already in two games when they have pushed the ball to the opponents' 35-yard line or better -- they have scored just four touchdowns on offense and none of the team's receivers have yet to score. The lone receiving touchdown came on a 25-yard pass to running back C.J. Anderson.

Siemian's interception against the Colts came on a play that started on the Colts' 20-yard line and was the eighth play of a promising drive. Siemian's two interceptions against the Panthers in Week 1 came at the Carolina 32-yard line and at the Carolina 11-yard line. So, three drives that would have ended in field goals, at minimum, where the Broncos have taken Siemian through what happened.

"That's what you expect out of a young quarterback," Sanders said. "Obviously he's made his mistakes in the red zone, but it's just not him. I've made my mistakes and the offensive line has made their mistakes. Last weekend we had an opportunity for a touchdown and a couple guys made mistakes. It's going to happen."