SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Colorado, California, Englewood, Santa Clara; it doesn’t matter where you put them, when the Broncos’ quarterbacks are throwing footballs they’re going to have a whole bunch of eyes on them.
On Tuesday, it was Santa Clara, and with a Broncos media contingent that rivaled, if not surpassed the 49ers media contingent in numbers, things weren’t all that different. Double-digit members with their eyes on Orange & Blue jotted down each and every throw by No. 12 and 13 on the day, and while things looked similar off of the field, they were a bit different on it.
BSN Denver was right in the thick of things as the Broncos and Niners went at it, here’s what we saw.
Lynch looking to leap
While Vance Joseph hasn’t said it explicitly, there is growing speculation that the Broncos quarterback competition is nearing the finish line. If that’s the case, it’s pretty obvious that Paxton Lynch is staring at his last chance to make a move here in California.
Well, the second-year man took a step in the right direction on Tuesday. Taking most of his reps with the first team, Lynch put together one of his better days thus far.
The two teams started their 11-on-11 work with a one-series look. Paxton moved the proverbial chains in the drill with a thrid-down strike to Emmanuel Sanders on an intermediate comeback route. It was the beginning of a trend for the young quarterback.
Later, working with the second team, he hit another big throw on third down, this time finding Jordan Taylor—who must be leading all Broncos receivers in receptions since the start of training camp.
Lynch would end up completing more than 50 percent of his throws on the day, including more than 60 percent of his throws during 11-on-11 drills. It was his worst drill, accuracy-wise, though, that most outlined the differences between he and Trevor Siemian and in this drill, the differences worked in Paxton’s favor.
It was 7-on-7 in the red zone, a drill that has actually been hard on Lynch in the past. Working with mostly the first team between the 15 and 5-yard line, the young quarterback completed just one pass in each of his two three-play series. Here’s the kicker, though, each of those completions were in the end zone. The first, a 15-yard score into Demaryius Thomas on first down. The second, a six-yard fastball into the gut of A.J. Derby on third down.
On all six of his throws, Paxton targeted the end zone, and while he missed a few that should have been TDs, he eventually put up two touchdowns in two drives.
In the end, Lynch put his big-play tendencies on display on Wednesday afternoon without having the big mistakes to go with it, and that was a big step forward.
Trevor playing defense
In soccer, they have a phrase called ‘parking the bus.’ It’s a strategy used by teams in the lead where they essentially pull all of their players back and park a metaphorical bus in front of their goal, not worried about extending their lead, only worried about preserving it.
On Wednesday, it felt as if Trevor Siemian had parked the bus.
From a strategy standpoint, you can’t really blame him. Some would argue, and some have argued, that the competition should have already been called off. Siemian has been more consistent and more trustworthy with the ball throughout camp and, by our count, has a significant lead up to this point, it makes sense why he wouldn’t feel he needs to try and do anything risky at this point.
The problem with parking the bus, though, is that it’s not fool proof.
While attempting to be conservative on the day, finding his check down more often than not, Siemian still made mistakes. Early in 7-on-7, the incumbent starter threw and inexplicable ball directly into the chest of linebacker Brock Coyle. Luckily for Siemian, Coyle dropped one of the easiest interception chances he’ll ever get.
Just two dropbacks later, in 11-on-11 work, Siemian rolled right and targeted Bennie Fowler, who tipped the ball upwards, and it eventually landed in the hands of No. 33 in white, Rashard Robinson.
The conservative approach reared its head once again later in the practice in that same 7-on-7 period that Paxton went 2-of-6. You see, Siemian went 5-of-5 in that drill which, on paper, seems fantastic. The issue is that four of the five ended up short of the goal line.
Aside from a second-down TD toss to Jordan Taylor during his first three-play series, Trevor threw four check downs in the drill and on the final play, he did something that Paxton has taken heat for. After finding nobody open, Siemian took off for the end zone on his feet, drawing a whistle from the coaches that the play was dead.
Siemian did have his best series of the day in his last, leading the offense into field goal position during a two-minute drill, featuring a 25-yard strike to Bennie Fowler in the seam that got his men team over the 50-yard line. In the same drill, Lynch turned the ball over on downs, with a pass breakup at the hands of CU’s own Ahkello Witherspoon being the final dagger.
In the end, though, Siemian’s conservative nature has been a positive during this competition, but on Wednesday, with the turnover bug only biting him and Lynch finally making some bigger plays, it cost him the day.
Play of the Day
On his first throw of the 7-on-7 red zone period, Paxton Lynch threw a strike to Demaryius Thomas on the goal line in a low spot where only 88 could make a play on it. It marked the first touchdown toss for either player on the day.
Day-to-day score: 9-5-2, Siemian
Daily 10-point scale score: 7-3, Lynch
Collective 10-point scale score: 98-72, Siemian