ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch may be preparing to compete for the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback job, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t friends.
“We’re still good,” Lynch said. “I mean, obviously, we’re competing against each other. But, at the end of the day we’re still guys, we’re still friends.”
Let’s see if things stay that way.
On Monday, the first day of offseason activities, new Broncos head coach Vance Joseph told the media that Siemian and Lynch were going to engage in a “50/50” competition for the starting quarterback job. Thursday, Lynch and Siemian stood in front of the media for the first of what promises to be dozens of times between now and the conclusion of the that competition.
“I’m really excited,” Siemian said. “I’m excited to get rolling.”
The two Broncos quarterbacks are both exceedingly young. Siemian, Denver’s 14-game starter last season, is entering just his third year in the league and won’t turn 26-years-old until the day after Christmas. Lynch, meanwhile, turned 23 in February.
With that in mind, the very real possibility exists that this competition could the organization’s fate under center for the foreseeable future. Thus, both Lynch and Siemian said they understand what’s at stake and are ready to compete.
“Obviously, I believe in myself to be the starter this year,” Lynch said. “I’m going to work hard, just like I did last year. I’m going to learn the offense, get extra work with these guys when I can and be in the building as much as I can at this time. That’s what I’m aiming for. That’s what I want to do.”
It’s expected to be a genuinely even competition between the two. That may come as a surprise to some who followed Siemian’s performance last season. During his year as the Broncos’ starting quarterback, the Northwestern alum threw for 18-touchdowns to just 10-interceptions. In the minds of some, those numbers should warrant Siemian being given the opportunity to come into training camp as the starting quarterback.
For his part, Siemian doesn’t mind being forced to compete for the gig. Competition, he said, is the nature of the National Football League.
“I think you learn pretty quickly, or at least I did, that you’ve got to earn it every year and every day in the league,” Siemian said. “That goes for beyond me and Paxton. That is everybody. If you’re not playing well, earning a job, earning a spot or getting worse, you’re not going to last very long.”
Of course, both quarterbacks are going to face challenges between now and the start of training camp at the end of July. They’re adjusting to a new offense, led by coordinator Mike McCoy, that relies on quick passing, screens, and a power run scheme.
In contrast to the Gary Kubiak zone blocking offense Lynch and Siemian played in last season, McCoy’s system is also extremely heavy on passes out of the shotgun. Last year, while McCoy was the head coach of the then San Diego Chargers, quarterback Philip Rivers was out of the shotgun on an eye-popping 82.8 percent of his drop backs.
That propensity to play out of the ‘gun should be beneficial the extraordinarily athletic Lynch, who spent essentially his entire college career at Memphis running plays out of that formation.
“That is one thing I am definitely excited about just because my whole college system was shotgun really,” Lynch said. “I know we’re going to have to get under center. Passing the ball downfield, I’m definitely excited about that, too. Having the opportunity to run around a little bit, too. That excites me.”
On the flip side, Siemian will come into the Broncos’ open competition with his own set of advantages. Experience, first and foremost, could wind up being a critical determining factor in determining who winds up starting under center come September.
“I played,” Siemian said. “You can’t substitute those reps. I learned that pretty quickly. Even towards the end of the year, I know my production—I don’t know how it stacked up earlier in the year—again, it just felt easier for me. I saw things a little better. You just can’t substitute those reps, so hopefully that helps me out.”
Between now and August, both quarterbacks are going to have opportunities to show what they can offer this team and this new coaching staff. However, right now, the focus remains on coming out of this early phase of offseason training a better player.
“I think they’re very important,” Lynch said of OTAs. “Any chance I get to be around the guys and be around the coaches, I jump at it.”