ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Even though coach Vance Joseph isn’t saying it, the steady and solid Trevor Siemian appears to have won the Denver Broncos’ quarterback derby for the second straight summer.
The seventh-rounder from Northwestern has outplayed former first-round pick Paxton Lynch of Memphis, whose flashes of athleticism and agility remain overshadowed by poor decisions and bad throws.
Although Joseph isn’t declaring a winner yet, Siemian has impressed a second set of coaches running a second offensive scheme, and Lynch, while he’s shown some progress, still doesn’t look ready to run a team.
Joseph appeared to squelch the notion that the decision could come down to which one has the higher perceived upside, insisting: “That does not matter. Whoever wins the job, wins the job — he’s the best guy for our football team. So, where you’re drafted does not matter. It’s about performance, not potential.”
Yet Joseph declined to declare a winner in this QB competition following Denver’s 33-14 preseason win at San Francisco on Saturday night.
“I saw Paxton make some plays with his legs, which he should. He’s an athlete. And Trevor, he was solid. He was Trevor. He made good decisions. His ball placement was on point tonight. You know, he controlled the huddle, so I was pleased with Trevor,” Joseph said.
Joseph wouldn’t say if the decision was imminent, suggesting: “Again, the timeframe is not important. What’s important is that we get it right. So, it could be this week, it could be next week. But, we’re going to go back and watch the tape and see where we are.”
This is what Joseph and his staff would see:
— Lynch overlooking Demaryius Thomas streaking across the middle uncovered on third down and instead forcing the throw to Virgil Green into double coverage for an incompletion.
— Lynch scrambling for 27 yards on three runs but getting sacked after failing to diagnose a blitz quickly enough and averaging just 3 yards per pass attempt as he throws for just 39 yards in five drives.
— Siemian taking over with 3:23 left before halftime and coolly throwing a 19-yard TD strike to Jordan Taylor one play after his 9-yard TD toss to De’Angelo Henderson was negated by a fourth penalty on rookie left tackle Garett Bolles.
— Siemian finishing with a 128.2 passer rating (and 8.5 yards per pass attempt) compared with Lynch’s 72.3.
Lynch had two promising practices against the 49ers but didn’t follow up with the big game he needed to challenge Siemian. The three scoring drives he directed covered a total of 48 yards and ended in two field goals and a 1-yard run by C.J. Anderson.
“You can’t complain about getting points,” Lynch said, “but I think that we left some points out there.”
Siemian followed up his quick strike TD drive just before halftime — which included a nifty sack escape — with a 12-play drive that ate up more than six minutes in the third quarter and ended in a field goal.
“I think so,” Siemian said when asked if he felt he’d done enough to win the job. “I’m not the coach, but I think so.”
While Joseph was noncommittal, he reiterated that it would indeed be best if he had his starting QB in place by the time the Broncos host the Packers next weekend in their final tuneup for the regular season.
“Absolutely, because our starters should play a half of football versus Green Bay, and that’s going to be our first official game-plan game of the season,” Joseph said. “So, that would be ideal, yes.”