The Denver Broncos enter this week’s contest with the Oakland Raiders at 6-2, with a win securing the team first place in the AFC West. If fans were to give a prediction before the season started, it’s fair to believe that most would be pleasantly surprised to see Denver in the hunt for another division title at the season’s midway point.
Even more would be taken aback that the quarterback leading the team to that respectable record would be untested Trevor Siemian.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1724714-3-keys-to-victory-broncos... Through eight games, Siemian is 6-1 as the starter, while throwing for 1,467 yards and eight touchdowns — against four interceptions. If you consider that he was the darkhorse of the offseason competition, behind the raw, but talented rookie Paxton Lynch and the since-departed veteran Mark Sanchez, you would have to give Siemian some modicum of praise for navigating his first NFL season as a starter as well as has.
With that being said, he also deserves some temperance in where his level of play has been. So far this season, Siemian has polarized Broncos Country.
Some believe the former Northwestern Wildcat to be in the mold of a Tom Brady; a late-round selection who comes out of nowhere to become a star in the league, with others believing Siemian is one of the biggest reasons the Denver offense continues to languish this season.
With his quality of play still being a hot-button issue this far into the season, have we seen the very best of Trevor Siemian — or is it still yet to come?
The Best Is Yet To Come
It may not be largely notable from game to game but that doesn’t mean that Siemian hasn’t improved this season. The opener against Carolina saw him make a poor read on a screen pass that resulted in an interception but later saw him complete the same type of throw to C.J. Anderson for a catch and score.
It is just one example of Siemian growing into the role of a competent, capable NFL quarterback.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1724598-mhh-predicts-broncos-vs-r... What is more telling than anything he has done on the field is what he’s accomplished when the media spotlight hasn’t been on him. Siemian was named as a captain on offense this week, a distinction voted on by his teammates.
Although he took some heat from his head coach Gary Kubiak this week, it still points to the team believing he can improve as a player. We also have to consider that the woes of the offensive line of late have had the biggest negative effect on Siemian.
Siemian isn’t a quote machine and his personality leads some to question his toughness and desire, especially when the offense is struggling. However, in just seven NFL starts, Siemian has proven he has what it takes to be capable player at the NFL’s most difficult position.
Bumping Up Against The Glass Ceiling
Siemian isn’t necessarily the starter out of choice, but rather of circumstance.
No one, from the coaching staff to GM John Elway, was prepared to go into this year’s title defense with the flawed signal-caller. Mark Sanchez, the oft-discarded backup, was thought to be able to keep the seat warm until Lynch would be ready to take over next season, which turned out to be a calculated mistake.
Even Lynch, for all of his size and big arm, has plenty of rough spots to polish before the team can count on him to play on Sundays. Short of giving Tim Tebow another look, Siemian was all the team had left in the cupboard.
Yes, Siemian is the owner of a 61.7 completion percentage, which on paper looks solid. When looking at that number compared to the rest of the league, its remarkably poor and is only slightly better than such notables as Tyrod Taylor (a dual-threat runner/passer), Cam Newton (a dual-threat runner/passer) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (owner of a six-interception game).
Even the much-maligned Case Keenum has Siemian beaten with a 62 percent completion rate.
Siemian is indeed 6-1 as the starting quarterback, but how much of that has been due to Siemian winning games or not doing anything to lose games? What other position group gets wins and losses lumped in with their credibility?
Does anybody count that Von Miller is 6-2 this year? Has anybody made mention of Demaryius Thomas’ drop rate when he’s in the lineup? Pointing to his win/loss record is more of a reflection of the team's quality than Siemian's abilities. He has been average at his best and maddeningly inconsistent at his worst.
The offensive line may not be playing at it's best and that does limit the playbook that Kubiak can draw from. The biggest impact on the playbook, though is the limited number of plays Kubiak can call for Siemian, as the young QB still struggles getting past his first read to and in allowing longer routes develop for him.
Every NFL quarterback possess some trait or skill that marks them to play the position. What separates a young quarterback like Siemian from another player like an Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning is what type of potential the player has.
Luck and Manning were tagged early as having once-in-a lifetime talent, while Siemian was a surprise pick at the spot he was selected late in the draft. Siemian shows equal parts brilliance and frustration as he uncorks a beautiful deep throw to a receiver on one play, and on the same offensive series, misses badly on shorter route. That's if he hasn't already checked it down.
Through eight games this season, we know just as much about Trevor Siemian as we did when training camp opened during the summer. As a player, Siemian has grown and improved in some aspects of his skill-set. His biggest gain has been experience.
Whether those improvements are enough to push the Broncos to a sixth straight division title, with an eye towards defending their championship in the Super Bowl, is a mystery to all of the Mile High faithful.
Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.
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