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Paul Klee: In choosing Denver Broncos' quarterback, decision must come sooner rather than later

By: Paul Klee
May 30, 2017 Updated: May 31, 2017 at 9:55 am
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FILE - At left, in a Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) throws a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla. At right, in a Dec. 25, 2016, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) warms up before an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo. The Broncos, a team with a dazzling defense and ambitions of a deep playoff run, must decide which young quarterback will lead them in 2017: the gifted first rounder Paxton Lynch or the egghead seventh rounder Trevor Siemian. (AP Photo/File)

ENGLEWOOD — Here’s how the practice ended. Let me know if it reminds you of anything. 

After a near interception by T.J. Ward, he and Aqib Talib indulged in a 12-step secret handshake that lasted longer than some Broncos possessions. Quarterback Paxton Lynch slumped his shoulders. The offense, having been denied in the red zone, was charged with doing pushups.

Hmmm. Sounds like 2016, doesn’t it?

“We have to up the energy around here,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said Tuesday as the Broncos continued their offseason workouts at the UCHealth Training Center. “That’s one thing that I got on the guys about today: come out here and have a bounce to yourself.”

Broncos ‘D’ 1, Broncos ‘O’ 0. Score one for the broken record.

With 104 days before they open next season, the Broncos have days on days to fix what wrecked last season: an offense that lacked punch, pizazz, personality. But until there’s a clear leader in that half of the locker room, who’s going to motivate the mojo they say is missing?

It’s a fun idea that coach Vance Joseph proposed, a 50-50, even-steven quarterback competition between Lynch, 23, and incumbent starter Trevor Siemian, 25. And can you imagine how many columns and talk-radio hours that local media can cram into seven months of QB controversy?

So I hate to be bad for business, but here’s a suggestion from the sideline: Don’t wait. If one of the quarterbacks stands tall above the rest, name the starter ASAP. The offense needs a rudder. Joseph said he expects the QB competition will go the distance — to the end of training camp.

That’s too long. The schedule is backloaded with burly games; seven of the final 11 are on the road, meaning the Broncos must start fast, with fury.

Then again, I doubt it’s Joseph making The Big Decision, anyway.

Under spectacular sunshine and spitting sunflower seeds, decision-maker John Elway soaked in the session. He was there, in a corner of the end zone, as Siemian and Lynch zipped footballs toward, and sometimes into, a trash can held high by a team manager. No pressure, guys.

“You want to coach the quarterbacks to put enough pace on the ball with enough height so No. 88 (Demaryius Thomas) can go up and catch the ball” is how Joseph explained the drill.

Regarding the quarterbacks, I saw nothing Tuesday that you didn’t already assume: Siemian is more accurate and in control; Lynch is ahhh-inspiring one play, ughhh-inspiring the next. If the Big Decision were today, the starter would be Siemian, no doubt. But it’s not. Lynch has time.

“I thought Paxton has been fine,” Joseph said. “He’s made some really impressive throws. He’s made some bad ones. Both guys have. Again, it’s the learning stages of a new offense.”

May 30 is a good time to visit Coors Field, work on the yard or store your skis, but too early to pick a quarterback for the long haul. Don’t look too deep into near interceptions or lopsided practices. These OTAs are loosey-goosey enough that Von Miller spent much of the day having a catch with wide receiver Jordan Taylor. Hey, Von’s lobbied to play QB before.

But the Broncos shouldn’t wait too long — as Elway told Tim Tebow before the playoff win against the Steelers in January, 2012 — to pull the trigger. 

Regarding everyone else, defensive lineman Derek Wolfe is roughly the size of a Tundra (he’s 20 pounds thicker, a truck of a man); CU assistant/legend Darian Hagan swung by to support his Buffs teammate, Joseph; at first sight, ex-Chiefs tailback Jamaal Charles wearing Broncos orange is jarring; Dante Barnett, an undrafted safety out of Kansas State, caught the eye of the ultimate undrafted story, Chris Harris Jr., as if the “No Fly Zone” needed another heavy hitter.

“I almost forgot he went to K-State,” said Harris, a Kansas alum. “I’m going to have to take back everything I said.”

But the offense? It needs a rudder, a voice, an identity — all those things that seem cliché until they’re actually true. It needs a quarterback everybody knows is the quarterback.

“Do you know how many people are sitting on the couch or how many guys wish they were out here in the NFL, being interviewed by you guys?” Sanders ranted on about the attitude on offense. “We’re blessed to do what we do. I’m like, ‘Pick up the energy. Act like you’re happy to be here.’”

One more thing: When you know, you know. Don't wait.

Twitter: @bypaulklee

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