One huge piece of news was slipped by head coach Vance Joseph on day 8 of Broncos Training Camp today, and not a lot of people caught it. While Joseph says all the right things to the media, stating “It’s an open competition still. Nobody has been told they’re a starter. We’re still evaluating these guys,” he let loose a total bombshell regarding the QB competition and who he feels will be his starting QB for the 2017 NFL season.
It was not one of the first things asked during camp, that was regarding the vets being rested, to which Joseph responded with, “I’m just being smart with our veteran players who we know more about. We can rest those guys. We’re going to rest the other half tomorrow. We didn’t want to do the entire group in one day.” That’s an intelligent move by the coaches, to give the younger and less experienced players some much needed reps, something they won’t get being behind the full time veteran starters.
Then the media asked Vance about a rumor swirling around that the quarterback competition was deemed over and that the quarterbacks already knew who the starter was, which Vance chuckled and replied, “That has not happened. It’s an open competition still. Nobody has been told they’re a starter. We’re still evaluating these guys. Again, it’s been a grind every week on both sides of the ball. We’re going to play our game next Thursday and we’ll go from there on who’s going to be the guy. Nobody has been told yet.” While the starter has not been notified yet, that does seem to imply that they will know who their starter is after the first pre-season game versus the Chicago Bears.
Buried in the back half of the press conference today, Vance did let a bombshell out regarding who he is leaning towards regarding the quarterback competition. When asked about Paxton Lynch and the day he had, especially on the 7-on-7 period, Vance said: “We want Paxton to have as many natural reps as possible, so when he takes off and runs, I like it. I don’t want him to sit back there and force the ball and make a bad decision. Him running in seven-on-seven doesn’t bother me. His deal right now is to put good plays together back to back to back. That’s what we want from Paxton right now. You can see his play making ability. He can put a ball into the field. He can scramble with it. We want more plays being made back to back to back. We’ll put him in the place for it.”
Not exactly the damning statement that I hear a lot of the Denver-local media calling for, especially with what they deemed an off-day for Paxton. This statement shows that Vance loves the type of game that Paxton can bring to the table, recognizing that this is a practice session for the quarterback to try things out and make plays out of nothing. If the staff was not excited about what Paxton has done so far in camp, that statement would have shown far more displeasure for his play today, knocking his abilities and picking-up of the new system, as well as knocking him for making plays out of nothing.
On the other hand, when asked about Trevor Siemian, Vance simply said: “He hasn’t done a lot of huge error stuff I should say. He’s been solid. He’s been Trevor. He’s been consistent,” and followed up regarding Trevor having to change his character and personality to win the job with: “I’ve never talked to Trevor about his personality. He is playing the position. He calls the plays, makes the read, the ball should go there and that’s where the ball goes. ”
So on the one hand, the head coach is now on record as saying that he sees the play-making ability of Paxton, his ability to throw the ball as well as move out of the pocket if need be, and make something out of nothing. He just needs more reps to get more consistent, putting together a string of good plays in practice, and that the coaching staff will put him in the position to excel on the field.
On the other hand, he feels that Trevor is just solid and consistent, and that he’s a bit ahead being able to make some reads against the defense. Although, at practice today, Paxton got to the line and audibled twice after reading the defense. Huge indicator of progress in his second year of action.
A huge test for the QBs will come on Saturday, as the Broncos will take the field at training camp in an honest to goodness scrimmage. It appears the plan now will be to “give those guys six and six with both groups. You want those guys to have a chance to play with the ones and the twos.”
Vance also stated his confidence in the new offensive line unit, stating they have enough good players to form two solid units to protect the quarterbacks. “That’s always a concern, even in preseason. How do you play a guy who is involved with being the first quarterback with a second line? Our two lines are pretty good right now, so I feel really good about those guys playing with ones and playing with twos.”
While the scrimmage and next Thursday’s first preseason game will show us a lot, it may already be clear in the coaching staff’s mind who they feel will be the starting quarterback this season. Vance may have unintentionally spilled the beans about the plans regarding the competition going forward. If nothing else, at least deciding sooner will allow that starter to get more solid reps behind center. And if his words lend any credence, that starter will be Paxton Lynch.
Watch full presser below.
— Denver Broncos Zone (@DenverBroncosZ) August 3, 2017