The preseason does matter in Denver as head coach Gary Kubiak and his offensive staff must determine who will succeed Peyton Manning as the Broncos quarterback in 2016. Kubiak and his offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will choose from veteran Mark Sanchez, second-year pro Trevor Siemian, or rookie first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch. After 10 days of training camp, the job is still anyone’s for the taking.
Kubiak listed both Sanchez and Siemian as co-first team quarterbacks on the most recent Broncos offensive depth chart. Both have been getting reps with the starting unit and neither Kubiak nor Dennison has a timetable on when a starter would be announced. For now, the Broncos are content on making the preseason mean something.
After the retirement of Manning, the Denver Broncos acquired Sanchez in a trade from the Philadelphia Eagles. Sanchez spent two seasons in Philadelphia where he started a total of just 10 games. In 2015, Sanchez started just two games, both blowout losses. In his second start in Week 12, he completed 19-of-27 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions. He did not throw an interception and had a passer rating of 116.1. Still, he was benched and would not play again during the 2015 season.
Siemian was drafted last year in the seventh round. He played in just one game, taking a knee at the end of the first half in a game against Pittsburgh. He missed a portion of his senior year at Northwestern, but he drew a number of comparisons to another Big Ten quarterback that didn’t have tremendous stats coming out of college – Tom Brady. Siemian has looked very good early in training camp and that has earned him a spot right next to Sanchez on the depth chart.
The only definite thus far regarding the quarterback situation in Denver is that rookie Paxton Lynch is going to be No. 3 and spend his first NFL season learning. After OTAs, mini-camp, and the first week-plus of training camp, Lynch has performed admirably, but he will be better off being groomed by Dennison and Kubiak before he is thrown into the fire as a starter in the NFL.
Kubiak is well known for placing his quarterbacks in the best situations to make sure that they are successful. He knows that Sanchez is a great bootleg quarterback and throws well when on the run. Kubiak and Dennison will use that to the Broncos’ advantage. Siemian, like Sanchez, throws well on the run and has a large quarterback intelligence quotient. Either can excel in Denver’s zone-based offense.
Traditionally, the Bronco treat the third preseason game as if it were the regular season. If that is the case once again this year, a starting quarterback would need to be named by August 27. Don’t expect the decision to come anytime soon though. Kubiak is content with allowing training camp and preseason games determine the starter.
Denver gets underway in the preseason on Thursday, August 11, when they travel to Chicago to face the Bears. Kubiak and Dennison have not decided how they will split up playing time among the quarterbacks.