Denver Broncos quarterback competition is slow going

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24: Quarterback Paxton Lynch
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24: Quarterback Paxton Lynch /

The Denver Broncos have a quarterback competition going at training camp, but is the competition actually helping the team?

There’s an old saying in football that if you have two quarterbacks, you really have none. If that’s true, then the Denver Broncos are in trouble.

I was not in attendance at training camp in 2016, so the last time I was in-person to watch the Broncos practice, there was no quarterback competition. It was Peyton Manning, and whoever was good enough to keep around as a backup and potential future replacement option.

At that time, it was becoming clear that Manning’s time was nearing an end, but Brock Osweiler didn’t look much better on the practice field. Truth be told, Trevor Siemian may have had the most success of any of the quarterbacks in the practices I watched back in 2015.

Of course, the Broncos went on to win the Super Bowl that season, but that’s not really the point.

The point is, at that time, there was really no question as to what player was the starting quarterback, and that dictated how practices were run.

The feeling was entirely different as the Broncos took the field for practice on Wednesday, looking a little disjointed offensively.

Now, that isn’t entirely unexpected.

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The offense that is being installed is a new one for most of these players, while much of the defense has remained exactly the same, and the players involved have spent at least three years together, more in some cases.

The defense in Denver is well-seasoned, experienced, proven, tried, true, and dominant. The offense? Not so much.

The Broncos appeared to be splitting quarterback reps right down the middle on Wednesday, though I didn’t keep an exact count.

Splitting reps evenly sounds great when you are talking about having a ‘fair competition’ but it looks horrible in terms of the on-field product.

Neither Trevor Siemian nor Paxton Lynch was able to really get the best of the Broncos’ number one defense, but I wouldn’t necessarily attribute that to a lack of ability to do so. There are literally zero quarterbacks in the NFL today who don’t struggle against the No Fly Zone.

The main reason I think these guys failed to get anything going against the top defense is because they were on the field for a few plays, swapped out, and the drill was suddenly over.

There wasn’t any chance for either quarterback to get into a real rhythm, and that really seemed to mess with the flow of practice.

Meanwhile, linebacker Brandon Marshall seems to know more about what the quarterback’s job is than they do. Marshall had an interception off of Trevor Siemian in practice, reading the play perfectly. Here’s how he described the pick:

"“It was basically just zone coverage. I saw when the tight end broke out, typically, that’s where the quarterback’s eyes are going it. That’s the blitz side. He wasn’t going to see me coming from the back side. I think quarterbacks are typically taught to throw where the blitz is coming from. I anticipated it, sliced the out-route, and that’s all she wrote.”(Quotes via Broncos PR)"

Is it sort of crazy that a linebacker knew that, and the quarterback didn’t?

When your quarterback isn’t comfortable, it breeds predictability. Siemian and  Lynch both oozed predictability when they faced off against the top defense in two-minute drills or game situations.

And still, it remains very early in the process. The Broncos’ coaching staff certainly has things handled the way they want it, and they are proceeding with these two quarterbacks sort of splitting reps right down the middle.

When we get to pre-season games starting a week from Thursday against the Chicago Bears, we’ll get to see the quarterbacks go live against a different defense and attempt to stake their claim on the position.

The reps these guys get in the pre-season will be extremely valuable, because we’ll be able to see what they are capable of over a longer period of time. I think more than anything, quarterbacks need to get into rhythm and have some continuity before they can look their best.

Siemian and Lynch didn’t look hopeless on Wednesday, but it was — in my opinion — a very tough day for both guys.

Both had their moments with specific throws, but at this stage of the competition, it’s still unknown whether one will be better than the other at the start of the regular season.

It’s slightly upsetting, because it’s a problem that could seemingly be fixed if the Broncos would settle on a quarterback. It’s also understandable given we’re talking about a new coaching staff trying to gain familiarity with two very different players at the position.

As Vance Joseph has previously stated, he’d like to name a starter going into the team’s third preseason game.

That time can’t come soon enough. This team needs someone to rally behind at the QB position, and quickly.