At 6-3, the Denver Broncos are still right in the thick of things in the AFC West and the conference as a whole. Another slip up, however, and the reigning Super Bowl champs could be on the outside looking in. Margin for error is slim.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1726142-inside-the-matchup-bronco... If the Broncos can't right the ship this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, it would not be a huge shock to the system to see some significant changes made over the following bye week in order to shake up a hyper-talented team devoid of identity and leadership.
For better of for worse, that means Trevor Siemian may be up for a performance review. It's a bizarre thing to say about a second-year player who has won six of his first eight games in the NFL, but stranger things have happened. Ask Jake Plummer.
Siemian's play over the last four games since recovering from his shoulder injury has been far from disastrous, but certainly ineffective for stretches of time. In that four week stretch, Siemian's yards per attempt is just 6.45, down from an impressive 8.38 in his first four career games.
Another issue for Denver's quarterback right now is that he's a slow starter, tossing just one first quarter touchdown this year. As the quarterback goes, so does the team, and the Broncos as a unit average just 1.8 first quarter points, 30th in the league.
Perhaps some of this has to do with philosophy. This past Sunday night in Oakland, Denver stormed out of the gate with seven passes in their first nine offensive plays, leading to four three-and-outs to begin the game.
Gary Kubiak has stated previously that he prefers an aggressive start on offense through a flurry of passes and that balance can be picked up later, but when the offense stalls with incomplete passes and the defense struggles early, as it has, it's too late to establish a running game.
Fortunately, Siemian has an opportunity to make some waves against a less-than-stellar passing defense. The Saints have given up a league-worst 300 passing yards per game, even surrendering 398 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Colin Kaepernick. In other words, they can be had. Call it a great opportunity or a stroke of luck.
On the flip side, that makes it all the more damning if Siemian isn't able to cut it against their porous defense. And the bye week immediately after presents ample time for change should the coaching staff decide to move forward with Paxton Lynch. It's hard to penetrate the force field in Dove Valley, but given last year's late change at the position, we know that the coaches are never married more to a single quarterback than they are to the success of the team.
All that makes the city of New Orleans a crucial fork in the road for Siemian's future as starting quarterback of the Broncos. A win could solidify his captaincy and buy more time at the reigns of the offense, but a loss combined with a poor performance might spark a coup d'etat in the bayou.
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Will Keys is an Editor for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.