ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — “I’d say I had my share,” Billy Musgrave said with an excited smirk, speaking of the amount of input he had in the decision to start Paxton Lynch at quarterback against the Raiders. “We’re looking forward to Paxton getting back on the field.”
The newly appointed offensive coordinator was convincing, and it made sense in theory—Musgrave promoted to OC with the idea being that he could modernize the Denver Broncos offense around Paxton Lynch. Not to mention, head coach Vance Joseph had told us just a few days earlier that Musgrave would have a say in the starting QB.
It was the perfect situation for Lynch. Finally, a coach that was willing to hitch his wagon to the former first-round pick.
Right? Right? Well…
During the game on Sunday, a game in which Lynch, once again, looked unfit to play quarterback in the National Football League, CBS broadcasters Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon had the following conversation:
Harlan: “Would you have started Paxton Lynch today at quarterback? With Siemian—and they put down Osweiler, he’s inactive.”
Gannon: “I think if you really ask the coaching staff and Bill Musgrave, in particular, who’s calling the plays today, what his preference would be, it would be Trevor Siemian. A guy that can handle the volume, a guy that they probably trust a little bit more with the offense. But you’ve gotta find out about Paxton Lynch over the next six weeks. That’s the key, you’ve gotta find out if this guy is a legitimate NFL starter or not, and that’s what these next five or six weeks are all about.”
Harlan: “It was not Musgrave’s decision to start him, correct?”
Gannon: “It was not his decision, according to Bill Musgrave. I asked him, ‘Were you intimately involved in that deicison,’ he said, ‘That was above my pay grade.'”
The conversation peaked the interest of many viewers who had heard nearly the opposite come out of Musgrave’s mouth earlier in the week. In fact, the contrast between the two statements gained enough steam for Musgrave to have to address Gannon’s comments on Thursday.
“That’s news to me,” the coordinator said when asked directly if he told Gannon the decision was above his pay grade. “I think we were all excited to have Paxton on the field—the whole organization and his teammates. Again, we’re happy for all of our quarterbacks, but it was time for Paxton to get an opportunity after being hurt for so long. It’s been a tough year for him.”
Unfortunately, somebody has to be telling less than the truth in this situation. Now, only the two of them know who that is, but there is one positive for Musgrave if it is, in fact, his nose that is growing: he gets his guy now.
In a five-game home stretch that is about nothing more than evaluation—even for the coaches—Musgrave, if he does prefer Siemian, will now get a fair chance to show what he can do as an offensive coordinator with nothing that’s “above his pay grade” to hold him back.
One thing is for sure, Siemian sure looked a whole lot better than Lynch did in the Musgrave offense. Even if it was in “garbage time,” Siemian led the Broncos to just their fourth multi-touchdown quarter of the season, two of which came in a big win against the Cowboys and the other came in the ultimate garbage time against the Eagles. No matter if Siemain is Musgrave’s guy or not, that may be something to build on.