ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The most notable position battle in the entire NFL is now over.
On Monday, the team was informed that the Denver Broncos’ quarterback competition has come to an end, with Vance Joseph naming Trevor Siemian the Broncos’ starter for the team’s Week 1 game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sept. 11, according to 104.3 The Fan’s Brandon Stokley.
The competition, round two, lasted seven months and nine days after Joseph declared the starting quarterback position open for the taking during his first day on the job, January 12. Since then, Siemian and Paxton Lynch have had a fair and even competition—splitting first-team reps evenly throughout OTAs, training camp and the first two weeks of the preseason.
On Saturday night, the Broncos’ second preseason game was the final chapter of the competition. While the two quarterback’s statistics weren’t drastically different in their entirety, their differing abilities to run Mike McCoy’s offense was clear.
In the game, Siemian’s 8.5 yards per drop back dominated Lynch’s 2.3. To put this in perspective, in 2016 the Atlanta Falcons 8.2 yards per drop back led the league, while the Los Angeles Rams five yards per drop back was the worst.
In the team’s first two preseason games, in which each quarterback received one start, Siemian did more with his opportunities than Lynch. In the two games Siemian finished 14-for-18 for 144 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions for a 118.5 passer rating, while Lynch went 15-for-22 for 81 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions for a 74.2 passer rating.
This wasn’t the first time the seventh-round draft pick, Siemian, held off the prized first-round quarterback, Lynch, for the starting job, either. After Peyton Manning retired following the 2015 Super Bowl 50 run, the Broncos held their first quarterback competition featuring Siemian, Lynch and Mark Sanchez.
Again, after months of not knowing who the starter would be, then-head coach Gary Kubiak tabbed Siemian as the starter the Monday after the team’s third preseason game. This year, Joseph decided to make the call one week earlier.
Lynch, a first-round pick in 2016, did show improvements from last year during this year’s competition, but ultimately struggled progressing through his reads and connecting on passes further than 10 yards downfield.
In 2016, Siemian went 8-6 in his 14 starts, missing two to injury, compiling 3,401 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. During training camp and preseason, Siemian worked on throwing the ball downfield—a component of his game heavily criticized in 2016—and has shown signs of improvement as he completed five of his eight passes for over 10 yards on Saturday night.
Joseph’s decision to move forward with Siemian isn’t just for the first week of the season, either. In preparation for the second preseason game, Joseph was asked once he begins to name starters for his team how long that would be in effect. Instead of saying they re-evaluate positions every week, he committed to the season.
“If you name a starter, he’s the guy going forward,” he said. “Injury can play into that, but once a guy is named the starter that’s a huge decision and that’s over time. So once that’s made, that’s pretty permanent.”
Moving forward, it is expected Siemian will receive all of the first-team reps in practice, while Lynch will work with the second-team. Additionally, Siemian is expected to play exclusively with the first-team during the team’s third preseason game on Saturday against the Green Bay Packers.
For a second-year in a row, the Broncos’ starting quarterback remained a mystery within one month of the start of the regular season season. For a second-year in a row, the competition ended with the same result.