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Broncos quarterback competition heavily scrutinized

5/30/2017 10:09:00 PM
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Each day that the Broncos open practice to media, social media in Denver throbs with dispatches from reporters about each throw -- and particularly each miscue -- made by quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. This is the nature of having a quarterback competition. Every step is dissected.

On May 23, Siemian opened the OTA as the No. 1 quarterback. A week later, Lynch saw the first repetitions. They are splitting the first-team work on a 50-50 basis, just as Broncos coach Vance Joseph said they would.

But every mistake must be taken with a grain of salt. First, Siemian and Lynch are learning the offense -- and learning it all right now. Joseph and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy want every base aspect of the scheme installed during OTAs and minicamp, so they're not hesitating to throw the entire playbook at them.

"Everybody's head is swimming in the playbooks," Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said.

And for the quarterbacks, they're going right into the deep end -- to the point where Joseph and McCoy want them to throw into traffic and test the limits of themselves -- and their receivers.

"They're always being encouraged to take chances in practice," Joseph said. "That's what practice is for, to kind of find your boundaries as far as your windows being tight or open. That's part of it. It's early. It's seven-on-seven. They're seeing multiple coverages and multiple concepts they're in, so it happens from time to time."

It hasn't always worked out well. While Lynch avoided interceptions in Tuesday's work, he nearly had a pass in a fourth-and-7 situation picked off by safety T.J. Ward, who dropped it. Lynch has also had mixed results when he's been forced to elude pressure, with incompletions as he rolls out and scrambles that have been hit-or-miss -- including one where he lost control of the ball in the open field without being hit.

Scrambles in practice would alarm some coaches, but not Joseph.

"I want those guys to play the entire play," Joseph said. "Again, that's a part of playing quarterback. If everything breaks down, and everyone is covered, take off and scramble. Get us five, get us seven yards. That's a part of playing quarterback."

Now it's a question of whether Siemian or Lynch will be playing quarterback when Week 1 arrives. Although Siemian's 14 games of starting experience make him appear more composed under the pass rush, Joseph has emphasized that OTAs are about installation and setting up the competition to come.

"Right now, it's a learning process with a new offense going in," Joseph said. "Right now, everyone is learning. It is tough to evaluate the quarterbacks when everyone is learning. Sometimes the receivers mistake can fall back on the quarterback's mistake. Right now, everyone is learning."

But no one is learning more than Siemian and Lynch. How fast they learn and whether one emerges as a viable option in McCoy's offense could determine whether Joseph's first season as a head coach is a success or a disappointment.

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