DENVER — You know that famous quote from the movie The Dark Knight when police commissioner Jim Gordon says, “He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now,” when referring to Batman?
Trevor Siemian is just like Batman, but the opposite.
No. 13 is the quarterback that Denver needs right now, but not necessarily the one it deserves.
Even after leading his team to a wining record in his first season as a starter last year, Siemian was forced to earn the job again during this past offseason—a second-straight quarterback competition with Paxton Lynch—and he did.
On Monday night, in the Denver Broncos’ opening game of 2017, Siemian proved the coaching staff, organization and his supporters in the city of Denver right in their decision to stick with the seventh-round draft pick in front of the nation on Monday Night Football.
While his stat line through the air was impressive—17-for-28 for 219 passing yards with two touchdowns and one interception—his mentality on the ground took the cake, and the 24-21 win for his team.
“I want Trevor to get down. He went head first a couple of times which I don’t like. I want him to get down,” Broncos’ head coach Vance Joseph said in his postgame press conference when talking about his quarterback running with the ball. “But it shows his courage. He wants to be the guy for this football team. So some of that you want, but he’s got to be smart for us and stay healthy for 17 weeks.”
Instead of agreeing with his head coach—as he’s done in the past on this topic, most recently during this preseason—Siemian said he won’t put his body’s health above his team’s success. In fact, he won’t just go down, no matter how much Joseph wants him to, saying he’ll do “Whatever it takes” to get the win.
“Obviously you want to be smart, but you want to win, too,” Siemian said. “You’re thinking about protecting yourself a little bit but shoot, if you’re trying to get a first down, you’re trying to score, that’s all you’re thinking about… You want to win, that’s the bottom line.”
In the first game of 2017, the 6-foot-3 quarterback’s 19 rushing yards were over a third of his career rushing yards entering the game (56). Although postgame he said he’s “absolutely not” a dual threat quarterback, outside linebacker Von Miller disagreed, playfully saying he saw a little Michael Vick in No. 13 on the night.
Postgame, Siemian was even asked, “Did you give Joey Bosa his jockstrap back?” after sidestepping the 2016 rookie of the year on the two-yard line in pursuit of his first career rushing touchdown.
But that wasn’t how the game was supposed to go. As Joseph said, he wants his quarterback to stay healthy for all 17 weeks of the season, meaning taking as few shots by the defense as possible. But as Joseph also said, “That’s Trevor. That’s his instinct.”
What was just as impressive as his “do whatever it takes to win” mentality, was his play on third down. After converting only 34.3 percent on third down last year—second-worst in the league—the Broncos finished the night 8-of-15, or 53.3 percent, coming in as the fifth-best in the league on opening week. When the ball was in Siemian’s hand, however, the offense converted 7-of-13, including a sack.
On the money down, the Northwestern graduate was spectacular, completing 7-of-12 pass attempts, five going for first downs and the other two for touchdowns to Bennie Fowler. Siemian didn’t throw short of the sticks once outside of his interception on a screen pass on 3rd-and-10.
“When you’re talking about third downs, you’re talking about protections and blitz packages and different looks like that and I thought our offensive line did a really good job of handling those,” Siemian said handing out compliments instead of taking credit for his masterful performance. “Our tight ends and Bennie stepped up, and all those guys did a good job of trying to take away [Demaryius Thomas] and Emmanuel [Sanders], so that was an adjustment we had to make on the fly. Credit the guys up front for sure.”
Sure, his teammates stepped up, but Trevor made it happen. While Siemian’s play may have come as a surprise to Broncos Country, his teammates have been on the Trevor Train for quite some time.
“Trevor did an incredible job,” Miller said. “He’s done a great job since OTAs leading this team. He won the starting job a long time ago. He does a great job offensively in the locker room all day. Whenever you get him in those situations, you know he’s going to make the right decisions. He made great decisions all night long for us.”
On the stat sheet, Siemian did have a lone blemish: an interception in the fourth quarter. However, cornerback Aqib Talib believed Siemian’s interception could have easily been called pass interference, thus negating the interception and leaving the quarterback with a clear stat line.
“‘Trev’ played great. [The] interception that he threw, it could’ve been easily a hold or PI or something,” the veteran cornerback said, who knows a thing or two about pass interference. “He was like grabbing him by his jersey. That could’ve easily been a call. You take that out of the game, and ‘Trev’ played great.”
With praise surrounding him from his head coach, teammates, and the country, Siemian was quick to brush all of it off, in fact dishing credit to the crowd that he is still trying to win over in Denver.
“Our crowd was awesome,” he said. “I haven’t been everywhere in the league, but Mile High is a special place.”
His teammates have embraced him, maybe Denver will be next.