ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak saw something in Trevor Siemian over a year ago.
That’s why the Broncos drafted him, after all.
While looking for late round options in the draft, Kubiak stumbled upon a 2014 game of Siemian’s. Northwestern was playing No. 18 Notre Dame in South Bend. The wind whipped up and down the field, causing passes to flutter and die in the air for Notre Dame’s quarterback.
Northwestern’s quarterback, Kubiak saw, hung tough.
He flung the ball through the wind all around the field, putting up 248-yards passing with one touchdown, leading the Wildcats to a 43-40 upset win over the Fighting Irish.
That tape got Kubiak’s attention enough to invite Siemian to work out for the Broncos.
He was recovering from an ACL tear and his workout included little, if any, actual working out. However, Siemian so impressed Kubiak and the Broncos coaching staff in that pre-draft meeting they selected him with the 250th overall pick in the 2015 draft.
Even if Kubiak liked Siemian at that time, no one could have predicted that less than two years later he would have led the defending Super Bowl champions to a 3-0 start.
In the first three weeks of the NFL season, Siemian has risen from retaliative obscurity to become on the hottest topics of conversation in professional sports.
Sunday, he was the driving force behind the Broncos 29-17 win over a tough Cincinnati Bengals team, throwing for 312-yards and four passing touchdowns.
As the season has progressed, the man who took a chance on him is gaining more and more confidence in Siemian’s abilities.
“Here’s what I like about him most: last week, we had a chance to put a team away and not put our defense back on the field with a 3-point lead, we put our defense back on the field,” Kubiak said. “This week, we get the ball, they possibly could have had to go back out there with a 5-point lead, but we stayed aggressive, made big plays and we got a two touchdown lead. I like the way we came back from one week to the next. We stayed aggressive and got something done.”
Coming into the season, the conventional wisdom was that the Broncos wouldn’t be able to contend with a seventh round draft pick under center. Siemian has turned conventional wisdom on it’s stupid head.
He has proven himself to not only be capable of playing quarterback in the NFL, he’s proven to be a better quarterback than either an aging Peyton Manning or a clueless Brock Osweiler, the two Broncos’ quarterbacks last season, especially in critical third down situations.
“One of the things that Trevor has done a really good job at is third downs and keeping our offense on the field,” Kubiak said. “Last year, that was a problem for us. Right now this year, I think we’re pretty close to 50 percent, which is excellent in this league. At the end of the day, that’s going to be at the top. And, he’s doing it with his feet. He made a really big third down with his feet, doing some really good things, keeping us on the field and extending football plays.”
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the Broncos offense last season while Manning was out with a foot injury was Osweiler’s inability to sense pressure in the pocket. Siemian’s presence behind the line of scrimmage is significantly better than what Denver had for much of their championship stretch last year. Kubiak even complimented him on it.
“He’s got a sense of what’s going on around him. Teaching quarterbacks that is really hard to teach; that when you move to keep your eyes up. A lot of guys, when they move, the first thing they do is bury their head when they start to run. Trevor moves, his eyes stay up and he makes people play defense, guys can move around. I think that’s something that’s natural to him and gives us a chance to make plays off schedule.”
The Broncos selected Memphis’ quarterback Paxton Lynch in the draft last April. However, for the first time, there are serious rumblings about whether the Broncos have somehow stumbled upon their quarterback of the future, just the same way Kubiak stumbled upon that tape of Northwestern vs. Notre Dame.
Siemian is making the plays his coaching staff asks him to make, and he’s proving down in and down out that he is capable of leading the Broncos back to the promised land this season.
“Your confidence continues to grow, and I’m not just talking about myself, I’m talking about all of us,” Kubiak said. “As coaches, we see how he can handle things. Me, Knapp, Rico, Klint, we’re watching him prepare and we how how much information that he’s able—we’re getting a lot of comfort there watching him keep up and handle the team. With that, there’s growth coming and obviously turning him loose in situations. I’m feeling better about his decision making process and some of the things that he’s doing. Just have to keep going, like I said, it’s a step in the right direction.”