That’s what Vance Joseph has preached what he's looking for in second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch, from the moment the Broncos took the field for OTAs in April and again after Monday’s practice.
Throughout training camp, Lynch has had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows from the quarterback group. He's showed the talent that made him a first-round pick, at the same time showing some wild inconsistency.
During Monday’s practice, however, it seemed Lynch was on a different, more consistent path through the team’s first four periods.
During the three team periods and the one 7-on-7 period to start practice, Lynch hit many short passes with quick decision-making, completing more passes than not. Although he didn't have any flashy plays, he avoided the big mistakes.
That was until the final team period of the day.
Lynch Lackluster in Crunch Time
In the most game-like situation of practice, Lynch didn’t look much different than he has in the few games he’s played during his NFL career.
Starting at the opponents' 40-yard line with under two minutes on the clock and one timeout, each quarterback got a chance to drive the ball down the field to win the game. Only a touchdown would do.
Going against the first-team defense, Lynch’s first pass, a 10-yard out to Emmanuel Sanders, turned out to be his only completion on the drive — and it could have been called a sack.
On the next pass attempt, Lynch lobbed a ball in the air that was intercepted by Aqib Talib. Von Miller, however, was flagged for offsides. Miller’s penalty drew a “Thank God” from Joseph after practice, as he was able to see his offense live another down.
After another incompletion, Miller redeemed his earlier penalty with a strip-sack of Lynch, pinning the offense on their own 40, leaving 3rd-and-11. In a touchdown-or-bust situation, Lynch looked deep in the middle of the field, but his 20-yard pass went in and out of the hands of Talib, who was highly ticked off he dropped it.
Finally, on 4th-and-11, Lynch scrambled to the left hash and tossed a wobbly ball across the middle of the field only to have it fall on the turf in the end zone.
Not only was this series important, as it was a game-like scenario during a team period, it threw a major wrench in Lynch’s day — turning it from a consistent day with good decisions, to another up and down one.
Siemian Comes Up Short
After a similar start to Lynch — consistent decision making with no turnovers and no big plays — Siemian’s game experience showed during the move-the-ball final team period.
Although Siemian didn’t lead his team to a game-winning touchdown — his drive stalled on the defense’s 10-yard line — he made the decisions that continued to give his team a chance to win the game. On multiple occasions, with limited time on the clock, Siemian threw the ball away instead of forcing a throw and risking a turnover. While at the time it’s disappointing, it allowed his team another shot.
By no means did Siemian light up this period. Through a combination of overthrows, off-target passes and throwaways, Siemian completed fewer passes than not and saw his drive end with a broken up pass on 4th-and-3 from 10 yards out.
Play of the Day
On a positive note, all three quarterbacks, including Kyle Sloter, made impressive throws on the day. However, only one happened during a pressure-packed situation.
During the move-the-ball period, Siemian was faced with a 3rd-and-9 from the defense’s 40. With the pocket collapsing, Siemian connected with Kalif Raymond roughly 30 yards down the left sideline in tight coverage. With a small window to make the play, Raymond made a terrific play on the ball and got both feet in bounds.
That play turned a 3rd-and-long outside of scoring range to a 1st-and-10 in the red zone with less than two minutes in the game.
Although Lynch started the day efficient and ended the day with a sharp 7-on-7 period — including two short touchdowns while working in the red-zone — his poor play in the most game-like situation of practice drastically hurt what could have been a solid practice for him.
Siemian by no means was outstanding, but his consistent, positive decision making is exactly what the coaches are openly looking for from the quarterback position.