The NFL has a quarterback problem, and that problem is that 31 teams have quarterbacks who are not Trevor Siemian.
Trevor Siemian—Touchdown Trevor, T-Money, the Treviathan, Slim Siemian, the Trevor-Ending Story, Forever Trevor—threw four touchdowns Sunday in a 42-17 win over the Cowboys, putting him solely atop the NFL’s leaderboard with six on the season. This is true. I didn’t make this up. At time of publication, no quarterback has thrown more touchdowns in the 2017 NFL season than Trevor Siemian, and no quarterback is tied with Trevor Siemian. He has a rushing touchdown, too, and perhaps most importantly, his Broncos are 2-0.
This is shocking to me, as a person who watched Siemian play college football at Northwestern. Let’s look at Siemian’s year-to-year stats since his senior year of college.
2014, Northwestern: 228-for-392, 58.2 percent, 5.6 YPA, seven touchdowns, 11 interceptions
2015, Denver: Zero statistics. (He did have one INCREDIBLE kneel-down, and won a Super Bowl ring.)
2016, Denver: 289-for-486, 59.5 percent, 7.0 YPA, 18 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
2017, Denver: 39-for-60, 65.0 percent, 7.5 YPA, six touchdowns, two interceptions
You’d expect Siemian’s statistics to get worse as he progressed from Big Ten play to the NFL. But no! Siemian has gotten better, every year, at everything. By 2020, I wholeheartedly expect him to be completing 100 percent of his passes for 99 yards per attempt.
In college, Siemian’s only asset was his strong arm. His accuracy was suspect, and his hesitance to actually use his strong arm made him famous—his teammates nicknamed him “Checkdown Trevor.” But his growth has been incredible. Broncos blog Mile High Report broke down some throws Siemian made Week 1 against the Chargers, and found Siemian had improved considerably since his first year as a starter. The inaccurate, indecisive quarterback I remembered from college is gone, replaced by a player who is consistently making speedy, smart reads before delivering precise passes to multiple parts of the field. He was even better against Dallas, leading his offense to five touchdowns a week after the Cowboys held the Giants to three total points. Look at this damn touchdown:
Siemian became the Broncos starter as the result of a gamble. Denver had won the Super Bowl in spite of Peyton Manning’s legitimately awful final season. (Funny, we’ll always remember him riding off into the sunset, going out on top, when his final season was by far the worst of his career.) The Broncos won because of an excellent defense, and decided they could avoid spending on a quarterback. (The quarterback they could have spent on was Brock Osweiler. Not doing so was a good call.) They turned to Siemian in hopes he could be roughly as bad as Manning long enough for first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch to develop into something better.
But every step of Siemian’s professional career thus far has been an improbability. He was a bad quarterback on a bad college team; those often don’t get drafted. He was a seventh-round draft pick quarterback; those often don’t make their first team out of training camp. He was a third-string backup as a rookie; those players often don’t ever become a team’s starting quarterback in their second seasons. He was a player in whom his team had invested nothing; those players don’t often beat out recent first-round draft picks for starting jobs.
But now Siemian is doing the most improbable thing of all. He’s not the replacement-level player the Broncos had hoped for. In a league starved for quarterback play that isn’t actively harmful, Siemian is actually good.