ENGLEWOOD - Understand, the Denver Broncos didn't want Trevor Siemian to win The Great Quarterback Competition.
If they did, there wouldn't have been a competition in the first place. He was the incumbent, the quarterback who came out of nowhere, and Northwestern (same thing?) to throw for 18 touchdowns and 3,401 yards in posting an 8-6 record last season.
If Siemian were a first-round draft pick, and not a seventh rounder -- and a late-seventh-round selection at that -- would there have been such a prolonged contest?
The battle went on for seven months in large part because the Broncos were hoping Paxton Lynch, who was a first-round draft pick, was ready to assume the role. He was not. Siemian outplayed him pretty much from beginning to end, but especially during the two preseason games.
"After a long battle ... we've decided on making Trevor Siemian our quarterback,'' Joseph announced at his press conference Monday. "That being said, both guys competed hard. Both guys wanted the job. I was pleased with both guys but overall the operation of the entire offense, decision-making, ball placement was more consistent with Trevor.''
Joseph first told Siemian and Lynch around 11 a.m. Monday that Siemian would be the starter. Joseph then informed the team at 1:15 p.m. and announced his decision to the press a little after 1:30 p.m.
"In my opinion we have two quarterbacks,'' Joseph said. "Most teams can't say that. I really believe that.''
Joseph said the Broncos would only keep Siemian and Lynch on their 53-man roster while indicating he hoped to keep Kyle Sloter, an undrafted rookie from Northern Colorado, around on the practice squad. It appears seventh-rookie Chad Kelly will at least start this season on an injured list, and may be placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Siemian, the No. 250 overall draft pick out of Northwestern in 2015, was the Broncos’ starting quarterback in 14 of 16 games last season. Joseph said it was a collaborative decision with general manager John Elway, director of player personnel Matt Russell, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave all in on it.
"It's a permanent decision,'' Joseph said. "As far as Trevor being our guy, he's our guy. ... He was the clear-cut winner. That being said Trevor had a chance to be an NFL starter for a whole year, and face NFL defenses. And Paxton has not had that chance.''
Lynch, the No. 26 overall pick out of Memphis last year, started the other two games in which Siemian was injured
When Joseph was hired January 12 to replace Gary Kubiak as head coach, he announced an open competition at quarterback.
Siemian and Lynch engaged in a battle for a little more than seven months before Joseph made his decision that had been expected since the Broncos’ preseason game Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, California.
Through two preseason games, Siemian is 14 of 18 for 144 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 118.5 passer rating. Lynch is 15 of 22 for just 81 yards with no touchdown passes or interceptions and a 74.2 rating. Lynch also has 39 yards rushing on seven carries. (Third-stringer Sloter is 12 of 13 for 144 yards with a touchdown for a 138.5 passer rating).
More than stats, though, Siemian demonstrated a greater feel for the passing game than Lynch.
"Trevor gets no credit for being a guy with a great arm,'' Joseph said. "He's got a great arm. That's never been talked about as far as Trevor's arm talent, but he's got a great arm.''
The Broncos will have their starters -- including Siemian -- play the first half of their preseason game Saturday night against the Green Bay Packers at eventually-to-be-renamed Sports Authority Field and Mile High.
It will be the last time starters play before the Broncos’ regular-season opener September 11 against the Los Angeles Chargers. The back-end of the Broncos’ 90-man roster will play in preseason game No. 4 against the Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 31. Lynch will play the second half against the Packers and perhaps some against the Cardinals before giving way to Sloter.
"It was close in my opinion probably mid-camp when Paxton was making huge strides,'' Joseph said of The Great Quarterback Competition. "But I said the (preseason) games would be an important piece and the games were. And in my opinion Trevor played better than Paxton in the actual games.''
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