ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — "Paxton Lynch is more confident."
"Paxton Lynch is more comfortable."
The cliches of the offseason, we've probably heard those two sentences more than 100 times.
Here's one that hasn't been said enough yet, though, and it's arguably far more important than they other two—Paxton Lynch is more mature.
In hindsight, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that the 22-year-old kid who went from playing videos games with his group of friends that call themselves the "102 crew," to a millionaire, needed a bit of time to grow up.
The kid was a kid, and it didn't help that the world's most mature 24-year-old—Trevor Siemian—was ahead of him on the depth chart. He was trying to drink water from a firehose while learning the playbook, enjoy achieving his dreams and live up to the expectations bestowed upon him all at once.
It was a lot, and it showed.
Now, Lynch is in that sweet spot, primed for that year-one-to-year-two jump that's so often discussed and he's in the right spot mentally to do so. Those around him have noticed his new-found maturity—his dedication to the playbook, his desire to improve—and it showed during Broncos mini camp when he was asked about "keeping score" against Trevor Siemian.
“As a human, when you’re competing against somebody, if you do something wrong, you’re kind of like, ‘Ah, he’s got me now, so I’ve got to make a big play,’" Lynch explained. "For me, I kind of felt that way when I first started, but I’ve just kind of learned that it’s just about yourself and making yourself better so you can make the guys around you better. When you better yourself, that’s how you play faster. You help the guys around you and then as a unit; we play better.”
Paxton Lynch is learning that the only person he is truly in a competition with is Paxton Lynch. He's made the first very important step in his development, a large mental step.
"Throughout the game, you want to be smart with the football. Whenever shots are there, you want to take your shot, but the coaches want to be able to trust you," he said. "If that shot is not there, that you can check the ball down and keep us on track... Me, personally, coming from [the University of] Memphis, we took a lot of shots downfield, so I know whenever I get my chance to take my shot deep, I’m going to be looking there first. I think I’m doing a better job this year at if it’s not there deep, checking it down and being consistent.”
Now, Paxton Lynch has just over a month to begin conquering his greatest opponent, himself. He'll be heading home during the Broncos' break and working with quarterback guru Charlie Taaffe. If the former first-round pick can take the next step, developing his mechanics, honing in his accuracy and beginning to make the easy stuff look easy, he'll be under center when the Broncos open the season on September 11.