Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak announced to the team Monday that Trevor Siemian has won the starting quarterback job for now, at least. Siemian has been competing against veteran Mark Sanchez and rookie Paxton Lynch for the starting role.
Replacing a future Hall of Famer like Peyton Manning is a tall order for any young quarterback, and based on Siemian’s preseason performance, fans may want to temper expectations. In Week 3 of the preseason against the Rams, it became clear that Siemian was the team’s best option under center despite a bit of an up-and-down performance. Siemian completed 10 of 17 passes against the Rams for 122 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Following the game, Kubiak praised Siemian’s demeanor, which surely contributed to the team’s decision.
"I think he’s very calm," the head coach said. "I can tell by the way he handles the team in the huddle. He has control of what’s going on."
Siemian and Sanchez were considered "neck and neck" by Kubiak through OTAs, but their respective preseason performances established Siemian as the leader in the quarterback competition. In two preseason games, Sanchez had 219 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception, but in Week 2 against the 49ers, he was sacked three times and fumbled the ball twice in a 45-second span.
Lynch also got some playing time against the Rams in Week 3, but Sanchez remained on the sideline for the entire game. Week 3 of the preseason is typically more of a dress rehearsal for the regular season, and the Broncos’ decision to not play Sanchez against Los Angeles suggests the team may release him or seek to trade him.
With a defense like Denver’s, the Broncos really just need a quarterback who can limit mistakes and be adequate. Lynch needs more time to develop, and Sanchez did not inspire much confidence through preseason.
Still, the decision to start Siemian means the Broncos are rolling the dice on a quarterback with very limited NFL experience. According to ESPN Stats and Info, this marks the first time in NFL history that a defending Super Bowl champion will start a quarterback who has never thrown a single pass in a regular season NFL game.
The Broncos will open the 2016 season on Thursday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers, a rematch of Super Bowl 50.