SANTA CLARA, Calif. — “I think so.”

“I’m not sure.”

Those are the responses of the two Denver Broncos quarterbacks Saturday night when asked if they have done enough to win the starting job.

The first response comes from the guy who went 8-for-11 for 93 yards and a touchdown in the Broncos 33-14 win over the San Francisco 49ers; the second comes from the guy who went 9-for-13 for 39 yards and no TDs.

The first, of course, is Trevor Siemian, the man who started 14 games last season and has largely outplayed Paxton Lynch throughout the quarterback competition in Denver.

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The second is Lynch, the former first-round pick who has yet to live up to that billing and, to the eyes of many, appears to have lost his second straight competition to a former seventh-round pick.

Here’s the thing—that’s okay.

The second that Siemian is named the starter, you are going to hear the word “bust” become synonymous with Lynch’s name. Media members and fans alike will try to tell you that John Elway blew it with the 26th-overall pick in 2016, that Denver needs to trade the young QB, that the Memphis product will never cut it in the NFL.

It’s all part of the everlasting race to be first in today’s day in age. No matter the topic, everybody wants to say they were the original person to declare the next Michael Jordan or the next Ryan Leaf. It’s a tireless race that bears absolutely no trophy at the finish line, but yet it presses on.

My advice: relax.

Let’s hop in the time machine and go back to that fateful night in 2016, when the defending-champion Broncos traded the 31st-overall pick and the 94th-overall pick to the Seattle Seahawks in order to jump five spots and snag Lynch.

The idea, at the time, was that Elway and head coach Gary Kubiak had found their signal caller to come in and jump Mark Sanchez (Siemian was hardly on the radar) for the starting job. Elway had famously said the trade for Sanchez was only the first step in their offseason pursuit of a QB and the thought was this was the last, the move that made it all make sense. Sanchez would be the savvy veteran that would guide the young grasshopper as he took over a Super-Bowl caliber team.

As the cards have been turned over, though, it’s become more and more clear that “the plan,” whatever it was, was not that.

While the world was crafting tweets about Paxton Lynch being the next great Broncos quarterback and giggling at goofy gifs, Mel Kiper was on ESPN saying this.

“He needs two to three years to transition from the no huddle… I’m not taking anything away from Paxton Lynch; physically, athletically, arm strength wise, hard worker, he’s got it all… but he’s got a lot to learn… He’s coming into the league knowing nothing about an NFL offense. He needs a year, two years, three years to sit, watch and learn, and that’s got to be the plan for the Denver Broncos and Paxton Lynch. You force him in right away, and it’s not going to work.”

After falling on deaf ears at the time, that comment has aged like a fine wine. John Elway has always said he wants to “win from now on,” and maybe Paxton Lynch has always been more a part of the “on” than the “now.”

Here’s the thing that’s so often forgotten in this situation, Paxton Lynch is not your average first-round pick at quarterback. Why? Because first-round quarterbacks usually don’t land on playoff caliber teams. That, above all else, has altered the handling of the once highly-touted prospect.

When you’re the Cleveland Browns, you throw every quarterback you get out into the water just praying that one of them will figure out a way to swim—how’s that working out, by the way? When you have Von Miller, Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Darian Stewart, T.J. Ward and Derek Wolfe on your team, you play the guy that gives you the best chance to win at that moment. For these Denver Broncos, that guy is not yet Paxton Lynch, and that may just be quite alright.

These aren’t the 1983 Broncos coming off of a two-win (strike-shortened) season, thrusting their prized first-round quarterback into action despite having a more prepared veteran on the bench. These are the 2017 Broncos, a team with far too much talent to throw caution to the wind, a team that feels if they can get into the dance, anything can happen. Ps. Even that Hall-of-Fame QB that was tossed onto the field in 1983 will tell you it didn’t all totally come together for him until year four.

Elway will also tell you that playing quarterback in the National Football League is no cake walk, and it most certainly doesn’t come easily to just about anyone.

“I’ve got confidence in the fact that they’re both young and they’re going to continue with practice and getting better,” the general manager told reporters earlier this week. “That’s why I had confidence in it. I think that looking at the guys that we have and them wanting to go and compete in practice, they don’t grow on trees. There are not quarterbacks grown on trees out there, so there wasn’t another answer. With that being said, I like the guys that we have because I know, talent wise, they can do it, it’s just a matter of they need the time and experience, and with that, they’ll continue to get better.”

This season, at least at the start, one of the Broncos quarterbacks is going to get time while the other is going to get experience. You might say Lynch needs that experience right now, but let’s go back to that ol’ fine wine metaphor again.

With the physical tools he possesses, we can all agree that Paxton has an extremely high ceiling. There’s nothing wrong with letting that vino sit on the shelf for one more year to give it the best chance at becoming a classic because, in the end, you wouldn’t want to uncork grape juice.

“I’ve always felt like I’ve been heading in the right direction,” he said on Saturday night behind a pair of disappointed eyes.

We’ve seen the flashes from the second-year man since the day he stepped on the field at Dove Valley, and those flashes may have reached their peak during joint practices in San Francisco, circumstance shouldn’t change that.

So don’t be fooled by those who may tell you the wheels have come off for young Paxton, the Lynch-pin is still firmly in place.

Ryan Koenigsberg

In 2012, at the age of 20, Ryan became a credentialed reporter covering University of Colorado Athletics. . . despite wearing a wolf-tee to his interview.
A native of Boulder and a graduate of the university, he attended his 100th-consecutive Colorado Football home game in 2015.
Later in 2015, Ryan began spearheading the Broncos coverage here at BSN Denver, riding that wave all the way to San Francisco, where he covered his first Super Bowl.
Now 24, it seems ‘RK’ is trying to make up for that whole wolf-tee thing by overdressing at every event. He apologizes in advance for any cringe-worthy puns.

  • Jake Cunio

    I never really felt Paxton Lynch was going to make it as the start of this year his mechanical issues and his footwork just needed to much to improve and add that to learning a whole new offense of system and I never felt like you had a good shot I was impressed having seen him and you and came to years in a row at just how much better he’s gone I think next year maybe this time

    • Whidbey Bronco

      Howdy Jake….
      It’s good to be right, eh?

      I was really hoping for more from Lynch though… if Trevor gets hurt, I’ve zero faith in Lynch…

      Tell the folks back home I said hey!

      • Jake Cunio

        I think that Lynch will be fine – he just needs more time with the new system, in 4-6 weeks we might all be surprised with what he could do IF needed. When are you coming back?

        • Whidbey Bronco

          I wouldn’t think so but actually, McCoy’s certainly capable of scheming to Lynch’s talents. Truly the Tebow comparisons might end at that point as Lynch actually can pass… you reassure me lol.

          I don’t think they’ll let me come back.

          Wish I could.

          • Jake Cunio

            They are generally pretty forgiving, you have waited and done some time, apologize for your “crimes” – and seriously commit to better behavior. Tim Lynch was banned multiple times, before he was on staff – You might be surprised at how understanding he can be. Separately,
            I don’t think the staff would put Lynch in unless Trevor was seriously injured, but he is much improved, and if needed he could do it. He made a huge jump in his mechanics from last year to now – all that remains is to be able to keep his fundamentals in place at game speed. I think that is why we see him doing well in practice now, but more in a panic during the games. I hope he doesn’t fold under the pressure, going to be alot of people using the “bust” word – which is ridiculous. He needs to hang tough, and get in the film room to study. McCoy’s offense is more complex than Kubiak’s and requires more changes at the line of scrimmage – Lynch can do this, but right now it’s all still too much.

          • Whidbey Bronco

            Ah, I’d come back but I did nothing wrong but use my roommate to criticize Sadarine (politely).

            Nothing else.

            It’s personal with that creep and has been for years…. Many years.

            Tim won’t overrule him on my account.

  • Thank you for the Kiper quote and for promoting this perspective. I’ve already read the “he’s a bust” opinion–some claiming that if Paxton didn’t beat out Trevor this year, then there was no hope. But that whole attitude doesn’t take into account what these two guys can do–Trevor in improving from last year, and Paxton in improving from last year. BTW, I don’t think Paxton was ever in the competition last year. I think it was Sanchz vs. Siemian all along, with the idea that Paxton would learn and grow. Who knows how good he’ll be after another year. I think he’s in a great spot, and I think the Broncos are in a great spot. I think the offense is coming together. We have two more weeks to get the new offense to gel, and I think it’s only going to get better and better.

  • El Gringo

    Lynch seemed a bit immature during his draft day interviews, and rightfully so…he’s only 22-23yrs old. I see potential for him to fall into a Steve Young or Aaron Rodgers type situation. The 49ers and Packers had a history of success when Young & Rodgers showed up, and HOF QBs (Montana, Favre, & Manning w/ Denver) had each set a new standard for each organization during their tenures.

    I’m disappointing with the coaching carousel that Denver’s had the past 3yrs as that never good for a QB, but the defense really does make the Broncos unique in their ability to compete w/ no QB…like the 2000 Ravens or 2002 Buccaneers.

    If Siemian can throw for 3K yards, 20TDs & 10INTs & take 30 sacks or less, I see us winning 10+ games…assuming the defense stays healthy.

  • Andro Paris

    Denver will be lucky to win six games. The worst part is the offense will be boring as hell to watch. I really feel terrible I feel this way, because the broncos are my team and have been since I was a small child. I also like Semien, I have no bone to pic there, I just find him terribly boring to watch and don’t believe that they will be any good with him at the helm. It’s check down city for the season. He is savvy for his age, yet I feel he is too cocky. I also think he is a stud in practice and that doesn’t transition to the field of play. I don’t think that does him any favors on the field. I don’t see any wow factor in his game. I sure hope he totally proves me wrong. Go broncos.