The decisions based on fear and money to start Trevor Siemian for two seasons led to a Paxton Lynch injury and also the firing of two years of coaches. Flashing back to week 11, Lynch finally was cleared to play against the Oakland Raiders, and his outing was both disastrous and hope filled.
During that game, we saw some flashes of the promise of what could be. An arm better than most, plus he read the defense to make a couple of right decisions on his few throws. We also saw a guy who looked like a rookie who’d only had three days of practice, which is pretty much what he was.
That game may have sealed his fate, as instead of playing the entire time to show he could do better the more he played, he got hurt. No six games to give him experience, no six games to evaluate. Just one uneven performance and another injury. That seemed to be it.
In his press conference this week, Elway said they were looking to upgrade the QB position. Tough to not take that as a, “We’re moving on” thought. What transpired afterward may also give Lynch a tiny sliver of hope.
When Elway fired coaches, he kept Musgrave, the lone coach who a trusted source said had wanted Lynch to start all along. On Sunday against the Chiefs, even with only three days of practice in a month, Lynch looked good. Not great, but a lot better than in Oakland. He also showed consistently what had been missing from our two other quarterbacks all season: passes on target and hitting them in stride. He showed he has the best arm, but his lack of experience was also apparent.
Inside the NFL had Demaryius Thomas mic’d up and it was revealing, not just for hearing what he said, but they kept cameras trained on him the whole game. He said more than once he couldn’t feel his hands because of the cold. It also showed him getting hit with pass after pass that were on the money, highlighting a missing ingredient all season. Plus it also showed after an 80 yard drive ending in his TD, his clear affection for Lynch.
Was that performance, which had a lot of good in it, but also a fourth down interception in the red zone, enough to save him? Even with Musgrave and DT in his corner? It is doubtful, even though the best thing for the team being in a such a great spot in the draft would be to ride with Lynch. Four games, 12 days of sole practice with the ones over two years, is not exactly what you want to feel confident you’re upgrading the QB position.
There is the conundrum facing Elway. If he drafts a QB in the first, and with so many available it’s tough to wonder why wouldn’t he, he’s also in the spot to trade down. Or take Barkley or a tackle. He is in a fantastic spot to really make some great choices. He could come away with a haul.
However, if he takes a top QB, he still has no idea with so many of them projected to go in the first, which one is money. Which one is better than Lynch who he moved up for. If he were to ride with Lynch, the choices in front of him are sizzling. He would have money in Free Agency to scoop up some real missing pieces like a OT, WR, RB, TE and MLB. Plus pay everyone he wants on the roster.
Being at the fifth spot in all rounds, he’s in a spot to make at least three good choices. If he pays top dollar for a free agent like almost 30-year-old Cousins, he’s still be able to make the draft choice; however, money will be tight to spend elsewhere. No safety net if the draft picks on offense, which have been poor for seven years, pan out.
Not to mention, if an expensive FA goes down, he’s really in the hurt locker. No money, no QB. A chance every team take, but we’re putting all our eggs in the Cousins basket.
If they were to decide that a drafted guy isn’t going to be better than Lynch and certainly not by week one, and they want to win now, drafting isn’t the answer. An available FA is.
We hear all Cousins needs is good coaching, an OL, some wide receivers and a RB like Chris Thompson. Guess what? The same is said about every QB. If were going to improve the roster like Elway said and we already brought in better coaches why not roll with Lynch, with a journeyman QB? It would allow all good things to happen with the money and draft.
If they think with the above mentioned upgrades to help him, he still can’t win, then it will show that Elway can’t draft a quarterback. That he failed with Osweiler, Dysert, Siemian and Lynch.
A compromise could be, draft a QB, but bring in a placeholder like Elway did last season before Kubiak dumped Sanchez so he could roll with his draft pick. Only this time, the placeholder is someone like Eli Manning or Alex Smith. Guys with proven records, but cheaper than a guy who’s not proven like Cousins. A guy who fades late int he season and may be why the Redskins whove started him fr three years, lack the faith he can get it done, even looking good for the first 3/4.
It will cut into their cap space and take away another FA or two, but gives them a little more breathing space and a drafted guy who’s not NFL ready day 1, time to get acclimated. No matter how you slice it, though, all choices revolve around Lynch and how much not keeping him hurts the franchise.
If they do indeed decide to go with him, the fans will livid because the media will be. They would have to eat crow. Their livelihood comes from readers believing they know more than them and their opinion can be trusted or at least worth a hear. Until he strings together wins, the fans will have zero excitement because the media won’t. That’s a big factor in all this. This part wasn’t my thought, but Ian StClair from MHR. How much Denver needs the fans excited because losing has hurt business and the NFL is a business.
This means that for two years they’ve the wrong choice and now will want to give the fans a shiny new toy, so they’ll spend money and show up to games. That may be the very reason, even if Elway, Musgrave and even DT think Lynch can win with improved tools, they remove him: fear and money. The exact reasons they started Siemian.
No matter which way Elway goes, the easy route or tough one, each will show varying degrees of backbone.
If he cuts Lynch, it means he sucks at drafting QBs and is admitting it. If he signs a FA and a draft pick, it still says it. If he signs a pricey Cousins, it shows it in neon because it means he doesn’t trust himself or this franchise to get a top draft right and develop him.
However, the biggest ballsy move would be sticking with Lynch. It means he’s sure about himself, his coaches, and his choice will win with better coaching and tools. It’ll show belief in his Public Relations department, too. And it’ll show he and his franchise has the strength and belief to stand and whither the media and fans displeasure at not getting a new face to be excited about.
Stick with his pick, set up the team all around him to win or take varying choices of semi-fixes. As Bon Scott sings in my head, I’m wondering which way his balls will bounce?