ENGLEWOOD - If there was a game today, Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said quarterback Trevor Siemian would be too sore to play.
“Yeah, well, today,’’ Siemian said. “Most of the guys in this locker room would be too sore to play today.’’
And so it is for the Broncos’ quarterback since he suffered a sprained left shoulder joint in the first half of game 4 at Tampa Bay. Starting with halftime of that game against the Bucs, Siemian has received a medicinal shot in his left shoulder each week.
And each week, Siemian dismisses his left shoulder injury in the same way he did following the Broncos’ remarkable 25-23 victory Sunday at New Orleans: “I’m just like everybody else. Everybody is dealing with their own bumps and bruises so this will be a good bye week for all of us.’’
As the Broncos rest here in week 11, they should be pleased. Not satisfied, but pleased.
Why? Because they are 7-3 with a quarterback who was a virtual unknown four months ago. Siemian has been the team’s most pleasant surprise through 10 games. Then again, he benefitted from having no expectations. How can anyone expect something from someone they don’t know?
Siemian, though, has proven to be a clutch performer. he was a third down machine Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Quarterbacks are graded most on their play on third downs. At one point, he was 7 of 7 on third downs for 81 yards and a touchdown. He also converted two quarterback sneaks on third down.
He finished 11 of 13 on third down – his last pass was a throwaway – for 113 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
But the biggest concern for the Broncos after 10 games: Keeping Siemian healthy. He is a gutsy quarterback but goodness, there has to be a way for him to not take so many vicious hits. There are times when he gets tossed around like a dish rag. And the issue is not all about the Broncos’ offensive line.
“The reason he does make a lot of plays is because he will sit in there and get hit right in the mouth and make a play,’’ Kubiak said. “That is a great characteristic of a quarterback because you have to do that sometimes. Right now, sometimes his depth is bad in the shotgun. [It’s] something we’ve got to work on.
“When it’s good, he’s stepping up. Sometimes he’s drifting and getting hit when he shouldn’t be getting hit so it’s something that we’re addressing and we have been actually addressing for about a month. It is something that we have to improve upon. He gets on the road, gets loud, you get in the gun, you start getting away from the center a little too far and now all of a sudden you’re back there hitting 11 yards. We’re not going to protect you if you’re doing that. It’s just something that we have to improve with him.”
Sure, Siemian has thrown some interceptions. He only ranks 25th among NFL quarterbacks with an 85.0 passer rating on 12 touchdowns, 7 picks, 2,028 yards and 60.1 completion percentage. But he also has a knack for bouncing back with a key completion, a must third-down pickup, a clutch drive when it appears the game is getting sideways on the Broncos.
Siemian is 7-2 as a starter. The other loss occurred when he missed the Atlanta game because of his left shoulder injury and first-round rookie Paxton Lynch played.
And by the way, there is zero talk among the coaches of switching quarterbacks from Siemian to Lynch. None. That doesn’t mean Kubiak is satisfied with Siemian’s performance. In fact, Kubiak has taken the coach-him-hard approach because he believes Siemian has a chance to become exceptional.
“I would rate him like a lot of guys: have to get better,’’ Kubiak said. “I want to see him continue to lead better and better with this football team. I want to see his play become more consistent. One thing that he had done early in this season, he protected the ball better and he hasn’t protected it the last three weeks so that’s a concern. We’re addressing those things as we speak so he knows that. He has to continue to play big for this team, not OK. We need him to play big.”
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