Denver Broncos: Reviewing Trevor Siemian’s performance vs. Saints

Nov 13, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) celebrates after a touchdown pass against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Broncos defeated the Saints 25-23. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 13, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) celebrates after a touchdown pass against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Broncos defeated the Saints 25-23. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian wasn’t perfect, but quietly showed off some big time mental toughness against the Saints…

Ah, the weekly Denver Broncos state of the quarterback position address. Isn’t it lovely?

The Broncos are fresh off of a wild and crazy victory over the New Orleans Saints, one of the best finishes to a game you will probably ever see. It’s only appropriate that after a victory as satisfying as the one we just saw, we would have the distinct privilege of continually arguing about which quarterback should or shouldn’t play.

If you’re reading this, you know about the Denver Broncos fan base being somewhat split by the play of Trevor Siemian and the presence of first round pick Paxton Lynch. It’s certainly an interesting position to be in. The Broncos drafted Siemian in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft, so they really don’t have a whole lot invested in him. They traded up in the 1st round to select Lynch, so there’s a lot more invested in the rookie.

The argument, to bring us all up to speed, is this:

The Broncos have a first round pick with more natural talent and ability sitting on the bench, and they are playing a former 7th round pick who has one year of NFL experience but had zero career starts coming into this season. Why would you play the guy who has less raw ability if you are planning on watching a quarterback struggle through his first year of starting?

It’s a legitimate question, but the proof has been in the pudding thus far for Siemian and the Denver Broncos’ offense. It has been a struggle at times, to say the least. Aside from a big game against the Cincinnati Bengals and some nice plays sprinkled in with a very large number of three-and-outs, it was getting tougher and tougher to justify Siemian starting over Lynch leading up to the New Orleans game.

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We all knew Siemian would be the guy at least for the New Orleans game, and after the way he played on Sunday, that’s not changing anytime soon, either.

It’s easy to look at a poor stretch in this game from Siemian and not focus on the things he did well, but let’s take a look at this performance from the perspective of winning games, not which quarterback we personally prefer…

First Drive of the Game

The first drive of the game was, unquestionably, the best of the season for the Broncos so far. After getting a nice stop defensively, Denver’s offense put together a long, successful drive with five first downs, most of any opening drive this season. Here’s the stat from Broncos PR:

Denver’s opening touchdown drive spanned 85 yards on 13 plays (7 pass / 6 run) and included five first downs—the most by the Broncos on an initial possession this season.

It was a balanced drive that was capped off by this throw and catch from Siemian to Jordan Taylor…

The touchdown catch was the first of Jordan Taylor’s NFL career. He’s proving the die-hard fans have been right all along with some big plays this season already, his first on the active roster.

Siemian on Third Down

Here’s the stat of the day, in my opinion:

Denver converted 11-of-19 third downs with its 57.9 percentage representing the best mark by the team since converting 9- of-13 (69.2%) vs. Miami on Nov. 23, 2014.

Of those 11 third down conversions, Siemian was responsible for 10. Whether throwing or converting on QB sneak plays, Siemian was excellent overall on third downs in this game, especially when it mattered most.

The aforementioned touchdown pass to Jordan Taylor was on third down. This touchdown to Demaryius Thomas was also on third-and-goal:

As good as the Broncos were overall on third downs in this game, there’s plenty of room for improvement. With four turnovers, the offense was only able to capitalize by scoring 10 points. That’s relatively impossible for any team but especially for the Broncos, who are one of the best teams in the NFL this year at capitalizing on turnovers. This game was the exception, not the rule for this team.

The Bad

There was undoubtedly a bad stretch in this game from Siemian, one that even had me wondering what in the world would it take to get Lynch onto the field…

Sterling Moore picked off a Siemian pass right before halftime on a Broncos drive that could have potentially put Denver up 17-0 at halftime. That was — at one point — the state of the game. It was a horrendous throw by Siemian under pressure, and he panicked, throwing the ball aimlessly into the waiting arms of Moore.

The offense hit a lull after that pick, and Siemian nearly threw another interception trying to fit the ball into double coverage surrounding tight end Virgil Green.

In this montage of plays by Kenny Vaccaro, you can see the interception he got off of Siemian that was another head scratching throw.

This interception prompted me to tweet that Gary Kubiak is a great player’s coach, but that he’s also incredibly stubborn.

His stubbornness, however, leads me to my final point…

Siemian’s Response to ‘The Bad’

Trevor Siemian is nothing if not a cool customer. I know Broncos fans are tired of hearing about it, but the guy just shows so little emotion. He’s never rattled by anything, and that was apparent when Gary Kubiak had to yell at him to run over to the sideline instead of walk late in the game when the Broncos had to burn their second timeout of the second half.

The response to two interceptions, nearly a third, and constant blitzing and pressure?

It was pretty darn good.

Not including the PAT return at the end of the game, the Broncos scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, and had two drives of seven plays or longer. They not only were able to come back and take a fourth quarter lead, they were able to bleed the clock out and give the Saints minimal time with their offense on the field.

Now, the offense also didn’t do anything after a late turnover before the two minute warning and had to settle for a field goal, giving them a six point lead. That was more on the playcalling of Kubiak than the play of Siemian, but we can save that for another article.

What I’m trying to say is this — Siemian took his lumps, and still helped this team come back and win the game with some big plays on third down, a nice jump ball to Demaryius Thomas for the game-tying score, and on the road in a hostile environment in a close game, I have few complaints with the way he played overall.

The stretch of about a quarter (end of the 2nd, into the 3rd) was where Siemian really struggled. When the fourth quarter came around, he again started making nice plays. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it was gutty, and Kubiak’s patience has continued to pay off in the form of team wins.