Denver Broncos: The Potential Growth of Paxton Lynch

Aug 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

When looking at Paxton Lynch’s first action in a game there is one thing that sticks out above the rest. Lynch has worked hard at playing from under center.

Back in November my wife and I took a trip.  On our way back home our flight was delayed by two hours, giving us some unexpected down time.  During this time I decided to watch some games of college prospects.

One name that popped up was that of Paxton Lynch. I figured we were going to re-sign Brock Osweiler but for some reason decided I might as well check this kid out.  For the next two hours I watched a majority of the games that he had started up to that point in his college career.  My wife came over and asked what I was up to and I said “I’m watching the kid I wish could be the future quarterback of the Denver Broncos, but unfortunately he will go way too high for us to stand a chance to get him.”

So when April came along and we somehow drafted this kid, you can imagine the joy that rang through the halls of my house.

Ever since that day in April the big question has been, “When will he be ready to start?” This has been met with mixed reviews from John Elway saying, “We think he’s going to be ready quicker than a lot of people think,” to others suggesting it would take years before he is pro ready.

One of his biggest criticisms is that he played in a college spread offense that doesn’t translate well to the NFL where a player will be asked to take snaps from under center.  Many figured that his learning curve would take longer than some other quarterbacks in this draft because of that.

Honestly when we look at the preseason and watching him operate from under center there were some struggles.  Now some of that was playing behind the 2nd and 3rd string offensive line, letting pressure get to him early in the play, but you could see some fundamental struggles for him in playing from under center.

Aug 27, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive guard Connor McGovern (60) and quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) at the line of scrimmage during the second half of a preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Rams 17-9. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

This past weekend we got the incredible opportunity to see just how much Paxton Lynch has improved over the last month since we saw him in a game.

I went back and watched every one of his throws and came away impressed.  Now remember, this is a very small sample size so we shouldn’t read too much into all of this, but he took a step in the right direction with his first opportunity.

While his overall game was great, I mostly want to spend this time just talking about his work from under center as so many suggested this would be one of his most difficult adjustments to the NFL game.  Also, many suggested that if he did start the Broncos would have to adjust their offense.  While I think they did adjust their offense this past game, it wasn’t them adjusting him not playing under center.  I would credit that more towards the depth of the routes they were running.  That discussion is for another day though.

Now starting out one would think that they were going to operate a majority of the game from the shot gun when Paxton Lynch came into the game.  To start out this was the case.  I would put this more towards the situation than the idea that they didn’t think he could play from under center.  I think part of this was that most of these happened with the 2-minute offense where most teams play from the shot gun anyway and part of it being how they operated in the 2nd half of the game.

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In the start of the 2nd half, what we see is the Broncos have full trust in Paxton Lynch operating their offensive system.  In fact in the 2nd half 11 of the 16 passes were him operating from under center.  So how did Paxton Lynch do with those opportunities?

He went 8 for 11 for 85 yards and a touchdown.  That gives him a QB rating from under center of 125.2.  Looking at the incomplete passes they show this performance was even better than many would have thought.

His first incompletion happened on a bootleg to the right where no one was open so he threw it out of bounds.  His second incompletion happened on play action where the defense didn’t bite and he had immediate pressure in his face.  He ended up running around and escaping a sack to get out of the pocket and once again throw it away.

The final incompletion happened on play action again where they were trying to hit Sanders deep but he was double covered and Lynch threw it about 5 yards over all of them.  So one could argue that all three incompletions were just throw away passes.

Again eleven passes from under center does not mean that Paxton Lynch has arrived and can do everything you could possibly want out of your quarterback.  I do view this as a nice stepping stone for him to becoming that type of player.

He showed beyond just the stats the ability to get back in the 3, 5, and 7-step drops and when he hit that back foot let it rip.  The game doesn’t look quite as fast as it was in the preseason.  He looks much more comfortable in what is going on around him.  So while we need to stay cautious from jumping to too big of conclusions this kid definitely shows why Elway was so excited that we were able to get him in the draft.

Right now the Broncos might be one of the fortunate franchises in the NFL that has two high quality quarterbacks that can go out and win games and we as fans should be counting our lucky stars that this is the case.