Up 14-7 in the second quarter on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Denver Broncos were thrown for a loop when a brutal second-down sack forced quarterback Trevor Siemian out of the game with a shoulder injury.
Enter first-round selection Paxton Lynch. After missing his first throw on the subsequent third down, Lynch led a well-executed two-minute drill and got the Broncos back on the board with a field goal before halftime.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1713082-siemian-carted-off-lynch-... The second half began and, again, Lynch led an impressive drive that both spanned the length of the field and bled the clock, culminating in another Brandon McManus field goal to give Denver a 20-7 advantage.
On the first drive of the fourth quarter, Lynch once again moved the ball. This time, however, he was able to find the end zone, booting out to his right and lobbing his first touchdown pass to a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders.
The Broncos simply did not miss a beat when they had to turn to their rookie. What's more is that head coach Gary Kubiak wasn't even a bit hesitant to put the ball in the hands of Lynch and let him rip it, over and over again. In just a little over two quarters, Lynch went 14-of-24 for 170 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers.
"I’ve been watching him practice and prepare," Kubiak said. "You never know until he gets thrown into fire. We need to get a little more tempo and we need to get out of the huddle a little better. Those are things a young kid struggles with, but I thought he handled himself well. He made some big third downs for us. He got the ball down the field, and I really liked the way he avoided some bad plays and threw the ball away. I thought that was impressive.”
It was an impressive, albeit emergency, debut for the passer that John Elway traded up to snag in the draft last May. But what comes of this? Trevor Siemian, before the injury, was on an absolute tear dating back to last week, throwing for five touchdowns without a single turnover.
Fortunately for Siemian, his injury isn't as serious as it may have initially looked. Rather than injuring his collarbone, the hard landing on his left shoulder wasn't serious enough to keep him out of the game. Instead, Siemian was available in case Lynch was also hurt in the second half.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1713108-broncos-beat-bucs-27-7-wi... Here's currently day-to-day, but the Broncos have a big decision to make ahead of this Sunday's tilt at home with the surging Atlanta Falcons, who currently sit alone atop the NFC South.
Kubiak could opt to hand the reigns back to Siemian, who owns a perfect 4-0 record, and take a Texas-style "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to the offense.
Or, if he wants to play it safe with Siemian's shoulder, he could give the rookie his first NFL start.
The only problem is that the longer Paxton Lynch is on the field, the harder it becomes to give the ball back to Siemian. Ideally, a team would like to make as few quarterback changes as possible throughout the season (see the 2015 Houston Texans), and they certainly never want an unnecessary controversy on their hands.
Of course, you can rest assured that if Kubiak does give Siemian the nod, he'll couch that decision by declaring in his fluent Coachspeak that there was no decision to be made at all.
Ask the incumbent starter, and he'll tell you that he's ready to go.
“I think I’m just going to take it one day at a time and see what (Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos) says tomorrow, but yeah, that’s the plan," Siemian said. "I’ll be ready to play.”
It's going to be a giant decision for the Broncos. Pundits will blow hot takes that "the Broncos can win with anyone at quarterback," but that's really never been the case. The Falcons boast a red-hot offense and Denver will need a big output of their own to keep up with them in all likelihood.
Siemian or Lynch. We'll have the news for you this week.
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Will Keys is an Editor for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.