ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Whether it’s fortunate, unfortunate or somewhere in between, through six days of training camp the Denver Broncos’ quarterback competition remains just that: a competition.
While Vance Joseph won’t give daily updates on which quarterback has the lead — to keep from a rollercoaster ride breaking out over training camp — it could simply be because, in reality, there isn’t a true front-runner one week into camp.
Whether it’s “Team Paxton” or “Team Trevor” one aspect that is clear is “Team Broncos” is far from finding their starting quarterback.
Wild Quarterback Ride
Coming off the first off day of the season, both quarterbacks took their respective offenses for a ride. Paxton Lynch received the first nod with the first-team offense and found success in the first half of practice — connecting with tight end Austin Traylor for the only passing touchdown of the day.
However, mid-way through practice, Lynch hit a proverbial wall, much like he’s done in past practices, and cooled down, significantly.
On the day, it was clear Lynch was looking to expand his vision in the passing game. Instead of looking deep — and either throwing deep or tucking the ball and running — he often kept his eyes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately, this lead to a camp-high four batted or tipped balls at the line of scrimmage.
During 7-on-7, Lynch found success checking the ball down, ending the period by completing the majority of his passes. After 7-on-7, however, Lynch lost his composure on the day. In the final team period, in a move-the-ball scenario with under two minutes left on the game clock, he failed to connect on a pass and was sacked twice.
The final pass of Lynch’s day was undoubtedly the worst. On 4th-and-2, Lynch stared down Emmanuel Sanders on a short slant route and tried to fire the ball into a window that didn’t exist. Aqib Talib jumped the route and intercepted the pass.
“Every player, if you grade the film, has had good plays and bad plays,” Joseph said. “But the quarterbacks bad plays, everyone sees them and notices the interceptions. I’m okay with that because we are learning, we are teaching and competing.”
At the same point in practice that Lynch when from hot to cold is when Siemian started to find his groove. Much as Lynch was stifled to end the day, Siemian couldn’t find success to start. Siemian didn’t have a completion in his first two team periods, including a batted down pass by Derek Wolfe, a sack and an interception.
Going up against the first-team defense, Siemian attempted to go over the middle on a short drag route, but Brandon Marshall read it from the snap and jumped the route for an easy interception.
However, after that play, Siemian only missed one pass attempt in two team periods and one 7-on-7 period. In the 7-on-7 period, Siemian, much like Lynch, took a different approach. Instead of looking for safe, short routes like he’s known for doing, he looked deep, finding a receiver beyond 20 yards on two different occasions, including what could have turned into a touchdown to Andy Janovich 30 yards down the field.
In his final series, with the second-team offense, Siemian continued to find his groove deep, connecting with Jordan Taylor on two consecutive passes, one on each side of the field.
The one consistency on the day is neither found success against the first-team defense.
Microcosm of Camp
The sixth day of training camp was a perfect example of what the quarterback race has been like over the first week: both quarterbacks showed flashes, both made poor decisions, and neither one strung together enough of a streak to separate himself from the other.
Much as Lynch found his groove at the start of practice, seemingly separating himself from Siemian, only to fall off, this was how training camp has been.
In the first two days of camp, Lynch jumped out of the gates, essentially “winning” both days, however, the third and fourth day, Siemian found himself right back in the competition. Over the past two, both quarterbacks have “won” a day.
Although Joseph has preached decision making will be the difference in who wins the competition, consistency will give one quarterback separation over the other — both within individual practices and practices as a whole.
Play of the Day
To little surprise, the play of the day came on a deep touchdown pass from Lynch. Going up against the second-team defense, Lynch found one-on-one coverage with Traylor and linebacker Corey Nelson down the left sideline.
Since Traylor was a stride length ahead of Nelson in coverage, Nelson had to sprint to try to catch up in coverage, not allowing for his head to turnaround. Instead of throwing a lob pass, Lynch put zip on the ball, putting it just over Nelson’s head right into the hands of a leaping Traylor in the end zone.
When push comes to shove, one quarterback put the ball in the end zone, albeit against the second-team defense, while the other didn’t, giving Lynch the slight advantage on the day. As has been the case in camp up to this point, Lynch had the highest highs and the lowest lows.
While that formula is good enough to take home the “W” for one day of camp, according to Joseph, it’s not a wise move in order to snag the job for Week 1.
Day-to-day score: 3-2-1, Lynch
Daily 10-point scale score: 6-4, Lynch
Collective 10-point scale score: 30-30