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For Denver to Be Good, Trevor Siemian Just Needs to Be Decent

The shaky Broncos starter is the least-bad quarterback on an otherwise-exceptional team

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian Getty Images

After Denver’s 33-14 preseason win over San Francisco on Saturday, Trevor Siemian may not have clearly won the Broncos starting job, but Paxton Lynch lost it. On Monday, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph confirmed what many had suspected by naming Trevor Siemian the starting quarterback after a competition that stretched for months.

“Overall the operation of the entire offense, decision-making, ball placement was more consistent with Trevor,” Joseph said. “That’s why he won the job.”

Siemian has now won the Denver job two seasons in a row. He outdueled Mark Sanchez last year, but the Broncos missed the playoffs despite being buoyed by the best defense in the league. Denver is too good to miss out on the postseason again because of mediocre quarterback play.

Joseph denied that the team was disappointed in Lynch’s progress, but Denver's front office must have expected to get more out of their 2016 first-round pick by now. Lynch has never been a starting NFL quarterback anywhere except in GM John Elway’s mind. He is 6-foot-7 and has the physical tools to play quarterback for Denver, but the same thing was said about Brock Osweiler. Lynch has tantalizing measurables, but as Joseph said, “It’s not simply about how tall you are or your arm strength or how fast you run.” At this point, Lynch does not have the know-how to run an NFL offense.

Siemian, on the other hand, has been … fine, and that might be all that Denver needs from its 2015 seventh-round pick. The Broncos have a Super Bowl–caliber squad, sans signal-caller. Their defense has been the NFL’s best by DVOA for the last two seasons, but after winning the Super Bowl following the 2015 season, Denver will have to pedal uphill to reach the postseason. The AFC West has suddenly transformed into the best division in football, and the Broncos have the hardest strength of schedule in 2017. Denver will play eight games against teams that won 10 or more last season. The Broncos defense is elite, but it is most effective when they are winning and the defense can rush the passer. Siemian isn’t great at building leads.

“We’ve got two receivers who are All-Pro caliber. … We fixed the offensive line,” Joseph said. “We need a guy that can operate at a high level all the time.”

Hopefully Siemian can provide enough offense this season to give Von Miller an opportunity to wreak havoc in January. If not, the Broncos will be in a lot of trouble, and we’re going to be wondering why Tony Romo is announcing games with Jim Nantz instead of winning them with Demaryius Thomas.