DENVER — Winning you over isn’t going to be easy. Trevor Siemian knows that.
Ol’ Trev knows a lot of things. Northwestern grad, National Honor Society, dad’s a surgeon, mom’s a nurse, all that. Walt and Colleen didn’t raise a dummy. But he forgets stuff. And forgetting stuff is the best thing about Trevor Siemian, the quarterback. Monday night in front of the largest TV audience (18.9 million for the 2016 finale) and crowd he’s ever played in front of (74,892 at Mile High, several of whom will cop a No. 13 jersey today), Siemian forgot everything.
Forgot about the almost-interception he threw to a Chargers cornerback... then threw at the same cornerback on the next snap. Forgot that Demaryius Thomas dropped a sure first down... then threw at Demaryius Thomas on the next snap. Forgot he got creamed... over and over and over, by Chargers pass rushers, and still got up, again and again.
"It shows his courage," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said after the game.
Tell me again why you don’t like this guy?
The Broncos held on to beat the Chargers, 24-21, when Los Angeles — that’ll take some getting used to — had a potential game-tying 43-yard field goal blocked.
Broncos head coaches are 11-1 in their debut. Joseph got the game ball.
"It's good to win. It wasn't clean, but it's good to win," he said.
The Broncos are 17-1 in their last 18 home openers. Mile High shook again. Some things never changed. And the reason for the win was Trevor Siemian. The offensive line broke down. Running back Jamaal Charles fumbled, at a most unfortunate time, late in the fourth quarter. The “No Fly Zone” allowed three passing touchdowns.
But no one could watch Siemian on Monday and say he was a problem, the problem, any problem. He completed 17 of 28 passes, threw two touchdowns and juked Joey Bosa for a rushing touchdown. He threw for 219 yards and one interception. Siemian wasn’t perfect, and won’t be. But when he has time to throw, Siemian is perfectly capable. The key to the Broncos’ season is the same as it ever was with Peyton Manning, and that’s not in any way comparing the two: if the starting quarterback stays healthy, the Broncos will advance to the postseason and, with their defense, dangerous.
It’s a big “if.”
Not since Olympia High School in Orlando, across the street from the late Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill golf club, a short commute from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, has Siemian played a full season. The Broncos’ fortunes are handcuffed to a 6-foot-3, 220-pound, seventh-round draft pick.
Ol’ Trev needn’t practice his long ball. He needeth practice his self-sack. Give Peyton a call, just not on his backswing.
It was after a game against the Chargers, last season, when Siemian sold himself to the Broncos locker room. In the visiting team’s cramped digs, his bare, left (non-throwing) shoulder revealed a bruise the size of a soccer ball. I wasn’t sure whether to interview Siemian, or give him Advil.
Siemian played through it. Teammates dig that sort of thing. Monday night, he handed a yellow penalty flag back to an official. Officials dig that sort of thing.
Siemian also knows he was not the choice of Colorado’s media. They wanted Paxton Lynch, who can’t play. And when you aren’t the choice of media, well, you’ve seen what happens.
The other star of the opener was the Broncos new coaching staff — for three quarters, at least. The creativity of Mike McCoy, the offensive coordinator who used to coach the Chargers, hasn’t been seen around these hills since Adam Gase skipped town for South Beach. Still, the Broncos tried to give it back. The coaches turned conservative with their play-calling. They took the game out of Siemian’s hands. Why? Their 24-7 lead flipped to 24-21. They held on, barely.
"I didn't want to have any negative plays, basically," Joseph explained. "The clock was in our favor, in my opinion. .... I didn't think it was conservative. I thought it was playing smart football."
Trevor Siemian won the job, twice. Now the Broncos should let him do his job.