With the Denver Broncos in an open competition, let us compare Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian for Saturday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
The defending Super Bowl champions have an open competition at quarterback. That’s a phrase you don’t get to type very often but it is true this year in Denver. 7th round pick Trevor “he’s THAT fast???” Siemian has been running neck and neck with Mark “probably a career backup” Sanchez. Saturday night was a big night for both of them to prove their worth, and their starts mirrored each other, as they began with terrific throws and ended in a torrent of sloppiness.
I could tell you how their debuts went, but it’s much easier to show you. We’ll pick emblematic throws of their night in chronological order, and grade them on a familiar trope: good, bad, or ugly. Kubiak gave Siemian the start so he’s up first.
Siemian opened the game with a decisive throw in a perfect spot.
His 2nd throw of the game was a decisive throw in to double coverage. Quick passes to covered players was the running theme of his night.
Siemian’s best pass all game, and Broncos Twitter began to pencil him in as starter at this point.
Gary Kubiak said he was looking for a “a-Ha!” moment, and as much as everyone fretted over Siemian’s throw to Virgil Green on the bootleg, this was bigger to his case to be the starter. Seeing this kind of a sideline throw on the money down to a covered receiver will help Kubiak sleep better at night than knowing he can hit a wide open target with pressure in his face.
It doesn’t look like much at first, but this was borderline ugly. Siemian was facing pressure, but the blitz was picked up and he dumped it too quickly…again. As the replay showed, not only was Sanders coming open on a deep curl, but Demaryius Thomas had his guy boxed out on a post in the middle of the field. This should have been a big gain to push the Broncos to the edge of field goal territory, instead Siemian’s bad habit killed the drive.
Siemian finally cost the team points with another ill-advised quick throw; this one telegraphed to DT. Searches for “Sanchez” in Denver probably started seeing an uptick at this point in the night.
Siemian’s first throw after the pick is the picture of jitters, as he sailed the ball into the Niners bench with pressure approaching around the edge. Cody Latimer dropped his next pass and that was it for Siemian’s night.
Now let us take a look at Mark Sanchez’s night against the 49ers.
Sanchez’s best throw of the night came on his first throw, firing on a dart on a play right out of the heart of Kubiak’s playbook.
Like Siemian, it was clear Sanchez would be the starter after his first few throws. Sanchez has always struggled with pressure, so to see him hit Jordan Taylor on a perfect strike down the sideline with a guy in his face was encouraging.
Unfortunately, this optimism didn’t last, as Sanchez missed a wide open receiver on 3rd down and took a sack to end a promising drive.
If you can’t make this kind of throw into tight coverage, you’re probably not going to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. Siemian has the better arm, but Sanchez’s is good enough. At this point, it looked like Sanchez would take control of the competition.
Instead, drunk Sanchez reappeared and the next few plays looked like a highlight reel of his greatest blunders.
It’s like he forgot how to play football once the clock passed 2 minutes in the 2nd.
Halftime didn’t cure any of these issues as Sanchez continued to throw balls up for grabs.
Kubiak decided he had seen enough of his underwhelming QB competition and put in the long shot rookie for the rest of the game, and he looked pretty damn good.
The Broncos would be wise to give Paxton Lynch significant reps with the first team this week. They could even justify starting him in their upcoming game against the Rams. Siemian and Sanchez both had moments of brilliance, but if you’re as careless with the ball as they were Saturday night, those moments won’t matter.
Right now my guess is that Sanchez has the inside track so long as Siemian turns the ball over. He knew the offense well enough to be making line adjustments and audibling all night, while Siemian made very few calls at the line.But if the QB’s we saw this weekend are as good as it’s going to get, then you can probably pencil in Paxton Lynch to be the starter somewhere around week 8.
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