SANTA CLARA, Calif — So often you hear about a moment where it just clicked for a player.
“The light came on.”
“He turned the corner.”
Is it cliche? Sure, but there are countless accounts from players about a certain play, a certain game, a certain something that got them going on the right path in their respective careers. Around Denver, the most famous one, of course, is Terrell Davis’ massive hit on special teams during a preseason game in Tokyo.
For Paxton Lynch, we may one day look back to the joint practices in San Francisco as that special time for him. We also might not, but here’s the thing, under the sunny Santa Clara skies, Paxton Lynch put together two of his best, if not his two best performances since the beginning of camp.
“It was one of his best days,” wide reciever Demaryius Thomas said of the performance. “We were just talking about it not too long ago. That’s good for him. It’ll give him a little confidence and maybe he can be himself more often. You saw him smiling and everything, so that was good.”
Here’s what went down.
On Wednesday, if you were digging for Paxton Lynch criticisms, you may have looked to his completion percentage on the day, right around 50 percent. On Thursday, Lynch went right ahead and eliminated that criticism.
The second-year quarterback, often criticized for his inconsistencies, was as consistent as can be on Thursday. 100 percent consistent, actually. That’s right, Lynch dropped back to pass 12 times on the afternoon and completed 12 passes. No incompletions, no sacks, no scrambles, just throws and catches.
“Very impressed,” Vance Joseph said of the performance after practice. “He made three or four big time throws today. He looked relaxed. Hopefully, that carries over to Saturday.”
On Lynch’s first drop of the day, he faked a handoff, hit his back foot and delivered an absolutely perfect ball over the hands of a defensive back and into the hands of Kalif Raymond 15 yards down the field. Raymond tapped his toes, and No. 12 was off to the races.
After that completion, it felt like Lynch let loose, simply playing football rather than trying to aim passes or be someone he’s not. It was as if that perfect ball reminded the young QB that he can make every throw on the field, so he just went and did it.
“He’s making progress,” John Elway told media after practice. “I think what you saw in Paxton today is he played with a little more confidence than he has in the past. I think anytime he does that he’s a lot more successful.”
After going 2-2 in a red zone period that was shortened due to multiple fights, Lynch went into a 7-on-7 drill that featured three perfect throws in a row, once again landing high on the degree-of-difficulty scale. First, it was Hunter Sharp who hauled one in between defenders deep down the sideline. Next, it was Isaiah McKenzie who caught a rocket from Lynch over the middle and finally, Lynch went back to Sharp on the sideline, each time fitting the ball in a tight window.
Back in 11-on-11 work, Lynch went 3-of-3 in his second to last series, featuring a 13-yard toss on an out pattern to Demaryius Thomas, who was tightly covered on the route and a 20-yard flag to Jordan Taylor.
The second-year quarterback finished his day working with the twos in 11-on-11, finding Hunter Sharp twice and Jordan Taylor once. The completion to Taylor on a slant that forced two DBs to collide and freed the lanky receiver up with only one man to beat.
With two of his best days in a row leading up to his start on Saturday, Lynch has given himself a chance to make some serious noise in this competition with a standout showing in the game. Stay tuned, folks.
Trevor is Trevor
You’d be hard pressed to find many bad things to say about Trevor Siemian’s performance on Thursday. He completed 75 percent of his passes, he didn’t turn the ball over and, for the most part, he looked like the “consistent” Trevor Siemian we’ve seen all camp.
On this day, he was simply out played, and that’s good news for Broncos fans. Too many times throughout camp, one quarterback has “won” the day only because the other “lost” it.
Siemian started his day with a nice completion to Demaryius Thomas on a play action roll out, finding the big receiver near the sideline for a first down.
Unfortunately for No. 13, after taking a sack on his first drop of the series, his red zone period was cut short due to the third fight in about five minutes. A fight that notably featured Paxton Lynch right in the middle of it.
After the smoke had cleared, the third-year man came back to complete five of his next seven throws, with one of his incompletions getting knocked down at the line and the other falling to the ground after going right through the hands of a 49ers defender.
Again, Siemian wasn’t bad on Thursday by any means, Paxton Lynch just played like a star.
“We’d like the decision made by itself,” Elway later said of the competition. “We’ve talked about that decision being made by itself. We want one of them to take the reins and take over it would be the ideal situation. We’re getting through this game and we’ll go from there, see what happens.”
Over the last two days, Siemian has not looked like the player trying to take the reins in this competition.
Play of the Day
While you could pick from a plethora of impressive Paxton pitches on the day, it was the early toss to Raymond, perfectly floated on the sideline that appeared to remind the young player of who he is. He’s a gunslinger with one hell of an arm, and that’s who he needs to be.
After that throw, you saw the former first-round pick act like he belonged on that field, and his play backed it up quite nicely.
Day-to-day score: 9-6-2, Siemian
Daily 10-point scale score: 7-3, Lynch
Collective 10-point scale score: 101-79, Siemian