Hard at work, quarterback Trevor Siemian took snaps Wednesday with the first-team offense, whipping the Broncos into game shape, when a fighter jet flew low over the practice field, rolled majestically and did a gravity-defying climb toward the sun.
Entranced by the jet, Paxton Lynch craned his neck with childlike wonder and twisted his back like a pretzel, as the focus of his attention drifted into the wild blue yonder.
Want to know why Lynch’s immense physical gifts have failed to translate into a job as Denver’s starting quarterback? He has trouble keeping his head in the game.
Lynch had better figure it out quickly. Before it’s too late. Yes, he’s only 23. A mere pup. But he keeps getting distracted by squirrels, and the NFL is a win-now league.
Despite coach Vance Joseph’s assertion that his choice of Siemian as the starter is a “permanent decision,” here’s betting Lynch will get another chance to run Denver’s offense before the season is over. Why?
In the Not For Long, nothing is permanent. Barely 12 months after being named MVP of the league, Peyton Manning was asked to take a pay cut by the Broncos. Within one season of building the strongest defense ever seen in Denver, Wade Phillips was out on the street, looking for work.
After winning the job twice in two years with two different coaching staffs, Siemian deserves a fair shot to prove he’s a worthy foe for Oakland’s David Carr or any other quarterback in the AFC West.
But the way I figure it, all Siemian has really won is another four-game trial. Denver opens the season at home against the Los Angeles Chargers in a game everybody in Broncos Country is counting as a victory. Next up? A visit from Dallas, when the name Dak will be uttered like a curse around here. Week 3 offers a trip to Buffalo, and the Broncos have a nasty habit of missing their wake-up call for early games on the East Coast. When Denver returns from its cross-country trip, the hated Raiders will be waiting.
Fair or not, if the Broncos go worse than 3-1 to open the season, Siemian will be on the hot seat. And believe this: John Elway will be very antsy if the next evaluation of Lynch is delayed until next spring.
After declaring Lynch would begin the season on the bench, Joseph added a little nugget worth remembering.
“Right now, I think Trevor is the best guy for our team,” Joseph said. “Now, if (Lynch) played this year, in Week 6 or 7, it could be different.”
Hmm. Denver plays the New York Giants in Week 6, after an early-season bye.
Siemian is the permanent starter, so long as the Broncos win.
Add Siemian’s well-documented track record of injury, and I figure there’s at least a 50 percent chance Lynch will get a chance to start sometime during 2017.
“Who knows when he plays, but when he does it’s going to be critical that he plays well,” Joseph said.
My advice to Lynch: Get your head out of … the clouds.