What Has Been The Biggest Difference In Paxton Lynch In Year Two?

Denver Broncos second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch looks like a new man. But what has been the biggest change in the big gunslinger?

There is no mistaking it. Paxton Lynch arrived at Dove Valley this past spring for the Denver Broncos offseason training program a new man. 

Lynch has seemingly broken the timorous shell that encased him as a rookie. The reports on the 2016 first-rounder, since the Broncos resumed football activity in May, are strikingly consistent. Beat reporters, teammates and coaches have all combined to advance a unified message regarding Lynch — he's a changed player. 

The change in Lynch can be measured by his performance on the practice field. But one does not have to be in attendance for every Broncos practice session open to the media to figure it out. Just listen to him. 

Every time he's taken to the podium, the difference in the tonality of his words and the content of his remarks are night and day, compared to what they were a year ago. He's a much more confident and comfortable player. 

Lynch's mentality has been inverted. Instead of the insecure rookie we saw last year — swimming in the playbook and mired in his acclimation to the pro game — we've seen Lynch be much more upbeat and assertive. 

http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1784455-limited-offer-get-3-month... Rather than cower at the aggression and predatory performance of the Broncos defense, like we saw from him as a rookie, Lynch takes it as a challenge. He's not content to just lay down and play second fiddle to the vaunted defense. 

The defense has been the clear winner throughout most of OTAs. And now, into mini-camp, the players' intensity has been cranked up a notch. Lynch, and his fellow offensive players, have had to take their respective lumps. But it hasn't stopped him from getting back up and going full bore on the next rep. 

“To me, it’s just football," Lynch said following Tuesday's practice. "You’re going to have days where you go and throw for over 300 yards and four or five touchdowns, and you’re going to have games where you have so many incompletions, more interceptions than touchdowns, and you’ve got to bounce back and play the next team the next week no matter what. You know you’re going to come out here and you’re going to get got some times. But the main goal is to get them more than they get you.”

That quote — and specifically the last two sentences — represents a total paradigm shift for Paxton Lynch. And that should excite Broncos fans to no end. 

In Tuesday's practice, Lynch threw a pick-six to Taurean Nixon in team drills. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy quickly barked out, "Next play!". 

Rather than retreat into a shell, like many young signal-callers do following a deflating play like a pick-six, Lynch stepped up. He connected with Cody Latimer on a deep 40-yard touchdown on the very next play.

In the NFL, quarterbacks have to have a short memory. Most young players don't have the confidence to overcome a setback like that, and strike back on the next play. But Lynch is showing the type of maturity and mindset that starting quarterbacks must have.

“Like I said a second ago, football is football," Lynch said. "There are going to be mistakes. No one is perfect. Bounce back from your mistakes and you’ve got a chance to make a big play. Coach McCoy turned to me and just said, “Next play, next play,’ gave me a shot and then I took advantage of it.”

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None of this is to say that Lynch is anywhere close to perfect. Frankly, he had an up-and-down performance on Tuesday. But his trajectory is steadily pointing upwards. He's got that all-too-precious NFL commodity — momentum. 

Paxton Lynch has never lacked the tangibles. He's 6-foot-7 and 244 pounds, has a rocket arm and the type of athleticism NFL coaches covet.

What held Lynch back as a rookie was his lack of intangibles. Confidence. Poise. Knowledge. Perspective.

These attributes once eluded him but with every practice and opportunity to speak with the media, he is steadily proving his grasp of them now. The game has slowed down for Lynch and it's allowed his natural personality and immense skill-set rise to the surface. He's more comfortable in his own skin and it's translating out on the grass. 

“When you come out here as a rookie, at least for me, I was just kind of feeling my way through a lot of stuff instead of just really cutting it loose," Lynch said. "But coming into this year, being around the guys a little bit more, being in the building a little bit more, it’s given me the opportunity to be more comfortable out there. You know, have a little bit more swag about yourself and kind of get that going in the whole offense. You rub off on people. Everybody else starts playing good if you’re playing good. That’s kind of how I’ve been looking at it.”

Throughout OTAs, Lynch has made the type of aggressive, downfield plays that make your jaw drop — getting outside the pocket and making things happen. Where he's struggled is on the shorter, rhythm type of throws. 

For Lynch to vanquish Trevor Siemian in this year's version of the quarterback competition, he's got to prove that he can keep the offense on schedule. The coaches know he can make a play when the situation demands it, or when things break down. 

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But he's got to give them confidence that he can excel at the small things. Vance Joseph's 'decision making' trope — that we've dissected so much this offseason — highlights that. What does 'decision making' mean to Lynch? 

“I think that’s important in any offense obviously," Lynch said. "When you have the ability to move around a little bit, it kind of helps you. If you don’t see the rush, you kind of can throw hot right off the bat. You have a little bit more time to make a play, so that’s kind of the way I see it. Obviously if you can see it, you want to get it out. It’s a big play. But if not, I feel like that’s where my athleticism kind of comes in and helps me out.”

We don't yet know how the Broncos quarterback battle will shake out. But Paxton Lynch seems to be a changed player. He has matured and developed. His comfort level and confidence are palpable and I believe we'll see that surface even more on the grid-iron as the summer bleeds into training camp. 

Last week, after Lynch's breakout performance in Monday's OTA session, I said that we need to pump the brakes on the hype. I stand by that. It's encouraging to see the progress he has made, but he's got to get better at the little things in order to truly separate from Siemian. 

It's worth noting that Mike McCoy and Bill Musgrave entering Lynch's professional life came at a most opportune time for the Broncos. Their respective philosophies cater to where Lynch finds himself at this point in his career. I'm intrigued to see how they all mesh together under the preseason lights. 

Trevor Siemian is not going to curl up and die. He's going to keep fighting, and that will push Lynch to keep his foot to the pedal. But I'm telling you, Siemian really has his work cut out for him this time around. And I think that's starting to dawn on him. 

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

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