Vance Joseph's Fate As Denver's Head Coach Is Now Linked To The Success Of Paxton Lynch

Unfair as it might be, Vance Joseph and Paxton Lynch are now in the same boat. Will they sink or swim?

The Vance Joseph era started this past Wednesday with the hiring of the promising former NFL assistant. Just 10 days after former Head Coach Gary Kubiak  resigned his post, GM John Elway moved quickly to retain the services of the former University of Colorado alum.

Joseph moves into one of the most coveted coaching situations in the NFL with the Broncos. Inheriting a championship-caliber defense, in addition to Pro Bowlers at some offensive skill positions, it's clear that this won’t be a typical reclamation job.

However, an interesting storyline that is unchanged from last year revolves around who will be lining up under center for the Broncos. While it's possible they could make a move to add a veteran in free agency, for now, Denver is poised to head into next season with either Trevor Siemian or the raw Paxton Lynch as the starting quarterback. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, the fate of next season still figures to weigh heavily on who will be the main guy in the huddle. By taking over the role of head coach, Vance Joseph is married to the development of Paxton Lynch. As Lynch goes, so does the fortunes of the new head coach.

In Joseph’s introductory press conference, the new boss spoke to the subject of who would be his QB next year, saying it would be an "open competition" to bring out the best in both players. As commendable as Siemian was this past year, in what amounts to a season-long emergency backup role, if he is the starter for 2017, Denver faces another 9-7 year potentially.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Siemian did exceed the expectations of what some thought he was capable of. The only problem with exceeding expectations is that his play still wasn’t good enough to get the team back in the postseason.

The same weaknesses he possessed in college — poor pocket presence, lack of accuracy in throws over 10 yards or more — showed little improvement at any point in his first year as the starter. As much as some fans in Broncos Country preach patience with Siemian, he can’t be touted as the long-term fixture at quarterback.

To be fair, Lynch also did little to justify the team's gamble to move up in the 2016 Draft to procure his services. Coming on in relief of Siemian and in two spot-starts, Lynch proved that his physical talents are considerable but he still has a lot of work ahead of him in order to refine the mental demands of playing quarterback at the NFL level.

It’s incorrect to think Joseph will have a direct hand in the tutelage of either player. In his best move so far, he gets major kudos for enlisting former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy to be the offensive coordinator and Bill Musgrave as the quarterback’s coach. Both men will be tasked with rebuilding a unit that never blossomed under Kubiak.

In his previous stint with the Broncos, Mike McCoy took another underdeveloped QB in Tim Tebow and installed a high-school style offense around him. To the surprise of many, McCoy played to the strengths of his flawed signal-caller and created an offense that while unorthodox, managed to be respectable, despite mediocre talent. On a dime, the offense changed more than a quarter through the season, and they still finished as the No. 1 rushing offense. 

Moving away from the Kubiak methodology, McCoy is the type of coach who will tailor his game-plans and develop them to his players, instead of pigeon-holing them into roles that may not fit them. Despite average talent and a buzzard’s luck with injuries during his time in San Diego, McCoy always maintained a dangerous offense during his tenure there.

With the benefit of hindsight, it was foolhardy on the part of Kubiak to try and force Lynch to be an under-center quarterback. As we saw with Tebow not that long ago, McCoy will build around what Lynch does well instead of forcing him to work within the coach's comfort zone as a play-caller.

Every Super Bowl-caliber team needs to have an established player at the game's most important position. For every Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer, there’s the ugly flip side in trying to win a championship with a Chris Chandler or Rex Grossman

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If the hiring of McCoy brings out the best in Lynch and the Broncos rebound to a better record next year, it’ll give Denver the franchise quarterback that every team in the NFL covets. If Lynch continues to struggle in extended game action, or worse, can’t beat out Siemian again, it will cast a major pall on John Elway and his new head coach.

It’s a bad football joke to say that coaches are hired so they can be fired later on. Still, John Fox got the boot because winning the Division didn't satisfy the winning appetite of Denver’s famous quarterback-turned-GM, or the team's rabid fanbase.

Fair or not, Joseph is now linked to the development of Lynch going forward. If the defense takes a turn for the worse next year, it’ll be because Wade Phillips left for Los Angeles. If the offense continues to flounder under McCoy, it puts more pressure on the head coach to find an answer.

Pose the question to any other franchise in this league and the answer will be the same. Average quarterback play, in this town especially, gets coaches fired. Joseph has already taken the necessary steps to aid in the maturation process of the first-round QB. For Joseph's sake, as well as his coaches and his GM, it’ll need to work out for the better.

If Lynch goes out and proves to his critics that he was worthy of his draft pedigree, it makes life easier for Joseph. If Lynch goes out and still manages to struggle, Elway may be on the phone looking for his next head coach in the not too distant future.

Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.

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