The phrase “considering the circumstances” is a poor way of qualifying a statement. It suggests that a situation could be better but considering the circumstances, it could be worse.
In essence, it's a kind of cop out. It's the business of excuse-making.
In the much-debated first season of quarterback Trevor Siemian as the starter, that phrase was liberally used to describe his performance — an effort that ended without a trip to the postseason for the Denver Broncos for the first time since 2010.
There is little doubt that for a team that had high aspirations in defending its World Championship from the year prior, the first-time starter Siemian did indeed play above expectations, considering the circumstances. There we go again.
As a quick aside, I had siding added on to my house a few weeks back. My wife and I frequently had trouble getting ahold of our contractor who in turn had difficulties locating his sub-contractors. The workers rarely showed up on time, took lunch breaks just a couple of hours into their shifts, and took far longer to get the job completed than initially expected.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1768681-5-broncos-vets-on-the-ros... After the work was finally completed, we both felt uneasy about having it certified by the county. When all was said and done, the inspector qualified the work and we exhaled gratefully, knowing we wouldn't have to worry about the outside of our house for at least the next 30 years.
Considering the circumstances, we were fortunate to have the work done competently for less than the usual price for that sort of labor. That doesn’t mean that the work that was done, or our experience with the contractor, was satisfactory. All that it means is that for everything going on, it could have been much worse. For what it was worth and for as many headaches as it caused, neither I nor my wife felt good about the experience.
How that anecdote leads us back to Siemian is this; yes, he did an admirable job going from never seeing the field in his rookie season to unquestioned starter for the entire year. Yes, for as bad as his offensive line was, Siemian took his beatings week in and out with an unforeseen toughness, gaining his teammates respect in the process. Considering all that was working against him, Siemian exceeded expectations.
In contrast, though, that doesn’t mean he played well — outside of a couple of games — or played at a consistent level for any part of the year. It’s odd to think that for all the hubbub of him making the best out of bad situation, little is mentioned about him leading an offense that went whole quarters without collecting a single first down.
The Bronco offense led the NFL in three-and-outs.
It’s true that Siemian played at, or around, the league average in categories like completion percentage and yards. Fair play to him. Looking deeper into situational stats reveals deeper concerns, however.
While his completion percentage was average, according to the Washington Post, Siemian’s completion percentage on third down fell to a paltry 38.6 percent, despite having two Pro Bowl receivers to throw to in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Further proving that Siemian wasn’t nearly as accurate as some postulate, he wasn’t even in the top-20 in completion percentage on third down conversions of three yards and shorter, and seven yards and shorter. For as often as the Broncos faced third downs last year, Siemian is the primary culprit for not converting those opportunities.
In fact, if we were to look at some of the more interesting stats — like passing plays over 25 yards and completion percentage in close games — we see that Siemian doesn’t make appearances in the top-20. As much as people want to give credit to Siemian for the tough breaks he faced last season, his level of play at several different points left much to be desired.
For the good moments he provided — like the second half of the game against the Chiefs at home and on the road at Cincinnati — he had equally poor outings in crucial contests against New England and at Kansas City.
It’s also important to note that with Denver’s slim playoff hopes resting on winning those game versus the Patriots and the Chiefs on the road, Siemian arguably had his worst performance of the season, respectively.
Siemian will be heavily critiqued and scrutinized this upcoming season, whether or not he is able to wrest the starter's job from Paxton Lynch. Playing the most visible and prominent position on the field comes with the territory. If — or when — he plays and he does well, it should be a cue to his critics to give him his due.
To his many supporters, though, it’s also time to be frank when plays poorly. While he might not be at the point in his career where we need to accept his limitations and shortcomings, this season will go a long way toward proving where he is in his development.
If he gets on the field and struggles, or fails to beat out Lynch for the job, we must stop trying to qualify Siemian’s middling play on the field and start calling it like it is. Bottom line; if the Broncos are to meet their lofty expectations of winning their fourth Lombardi Trophy, then we must stop making excuses for Trevor Siemian.
Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.