The Future Is Now In Denver; It's Time To Start Paxton Lynch

After an impressive performance in Week 4, where Paxton Lynch took over for an injured Trevor Siemian, the writing is on the wall. It's time for Denver to start their rookie first-rounder.

Ever since Draft Day earlier this spring, the Denver Broncos as an organization have been adamant that their rookie first-rounder, Paxton Lynch, would be ready to play soon. 

In Denver's Week 4 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we had our first chance to really evaluate Lynch vs. NFL-level competition. He took over for an injured Trevor Siemian, late in the second quarter, and would go on to finish the game, playing 51 offensive snaps. 

Lynch went 14-of-24 for 170 yards and a touchdown — with a 94.1 QB rating. Lynch's performance was impressive. Let me couch that declaration. Lynch didn't exactly set the world on fire, but we got to see his unique set of tools on full display, meshed with Gary Kubiak's offense in a real game. 

We saw the confidence. We saw the arm strength, the mobility, the physical strength, speed, and stature. The total package that is Paxton Lynch brings an element to Denver's offense that Siemian simply cannot reach. 

I've been a defender of Trevor Siemian. On these pages, on the radio, on the Huddle Up Podcast, I've stood behind the kid, seeing the forest for the trees. He was never as bad as his detractors made him out to be, nor was he as good as his loudest supporters proclaimed. 

But my defending Siemian came after the fact.

Following the preseason, it was my honest opinion as a football analyst that the Broncos would have been best served rolling with the rookie out of the gates, simply because at the time, the margin of performance was so slim between he and Siemian, that the team had little to lose in beginning the Paxton Lynch era in Week 1. 

• In the video below, Trevor Siemian talks about his injury and prognosis for Week 5. 

As a second-year player, Siemian went out and exceeded expectations in the first quarter of Denver's 2016 campaign. He's 4-0 as a starter. He's passed for 824 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. He has a QB rating of 99.6. 

That's exactly why Gary Kubiak won't bench Siemian. Why would you go away from a player who's led his team to four consecutive victories and has statistically improved from week to week? 

Because Siemian might have a very high floor as an NFL quarterback, but his ceiling, compared to Lynch's, is significantly lower. At a talent level, Trevor Siemian doesn't come close to Paxton Lynch. 

The question was whether Lynch had the wherewithal mentally and from a leadership standpoint, to be trusted with the keys to the kingdom. After watching him in Tampa, I'm confident he does possess that capability — right now. 

Lynch was drafted to be the Broncos future franchise quarterback. Siemian was drafted as a developmental backup, good enough to step in and keep the ship afloat in a tight spot. The future is now.

With Lynch at the helm, the Broncos offense could go from being a stop-gap compliment to an elite defense, to becoming an elite unit in their own right. 

It's time for the Broncos to hand the starting reins over to Lynch, because the No. 1 offense in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons, are coming to town this week. And the Broncos are going to have to score some points.  

The reality is, Denver won't bench a healthy Siemian right now. To bench a 4-0 QB would risk losing the belief of some of the veterans in the locker room. Still, I believe the team would be better off just biting the bullet and going with Lynch. 

UPDATE: Monday, Gary Kubiak made it clear in his presser that Trevor Siemian will remain the starting quarterback. Categorized as day-to-day, the Broncos hope to have him ready in time for Sunday's game. 

“Trevor is our starting quarterback and hopefully he is going to be OK," Kubiak said. "I’m really proud of Paxton and how he came in and played yesterday. We felt fortunate with Trevor and like I said, hopefully we’ll be day-to-day here and get him to next week."

If Siemian is held out of this week's game, which is unlikely, considering it's his non-throwing shoulder, Paxton Lynch will start. If the Broncos beat Atlanta with Lynch at the helm, it'll be hard to go back to Siemian. 

As the old saying goes, in the NFL, you're not supposed to lose your starting job because of injury. Unfortunately, we see that platitude violated on an almost weekly basis across the league.  

Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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