Start mentally preparing yourself for the Trevor Siemian era.
The Denver Broncos played their third preseason game Saturday — a 17-9 win over the Los Angeles Rams — and it appears that the team finally has a starting quarterback. That quarterback is a second-year player whose only NFL snap is a kneel-down.
Siemian played the entire first half of the game alongside Denver’s other starters and was average, which is about all the Broncos are seeking at quarterback these days. He completed 10 of 17 passes for 122 yards, threw a touchdown and an interception. Siemian’s pick probably should have been negated; video replay showed it hit the ground. But two series later, he threw what very easily could have been a pick-6 to Rams safety Christian Bryant.
The Broncos didn’t ask Siemian to do too much. They relied on the run, especially early when they rushed six times to begin the game. Mostly, Siemian attempted short and intermediate passes. He wasn’t very accurate when he did throw deep, apart from a nice 43-yard toss to Demaryius Thomas on the sideline. Here was his unofficial pass chart, if you’re into that sort of thing.
A lot of action near the line of scrimmage, which you can probably expect when the real games start. Denver ran the ball more than it threw, with 33 rushes vs 30 passes. That’s likely the formula in the Sept. 8 season opener against Carolina: Run the ball, be conservative when throwing and let the defense terrorize the opposition.
C.J Anderson, who’s the clear-cut No. 1 tailback, had a nice outing. He rushed 11 times for 50 yards. Devontae Booker, the rookie and probable No. 2 guy, didn’t do much, carrying the ball eight times for 13 yards. Veteran Ronnie Hillman (5 carries for 45 yards and a score) had his nicest game of the preseason. He’s fighting Kapri Bibbs for a roster spot. Hillman helped his chances Saturday.
It was telling that when rookie Paxton Lynch entered the game to start the second half, he didn’t play with the Broncos starters. Head coach Gary Kubiak pulled the Broncos’ No. 1s when Lynch went in. If the team truly believed Lynch could be the Week 1 starter, it’s likely we would’ve gotten the chance to see him play with guys like Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Mark Sanchez, once thought to be the favorite to win the QB job, didn’t even play a single snap. Sanchez didn’t get any playing time a week after he fumbled twice against the 49ers. Turnover issues, as they have his whole career, seem to have hurt him. Now he might not even make the roster. As explained here, the Broncos can save a considerable chunk of change and a late-round draft pick by cutting him.
It looks like Denver will roll with Siemian as the starter and Lynch as the backup entering the season, which means that the defending Super Bowl champions’ top two quarterbacks will have one combined NFL snap between them. We know that the defense will be good, but will it again be good enough to compensate for subpar quarterback play?
We’ll find out soon enough. A sixth-straight AFC West division title is on the line.