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Paul Klee: What, the Broncos worry? They should — about the struggling quarterbacks

By: Paul Klee
August 2, 2017 Updated: August 3, 2017 at 9:57 am
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Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) during drills at an NFL football camp Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ENGLEWOOD — What, Von Miller worry?

“I’m thinking more about my Instagram than my preseason snap count,” the One-and-Only said Wednesday.

The rest of you? Make like a wart and worry.

The Broncos quarterback competition has reached a stalemate — emphasis on stale.

“My take right now is it’s even,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said.

Before the Broncos have even played a preseason game, the QB conundrum is threatening to waste another year of Vonnie Football and the “No Fly Zone.” One was enough, thank you.

How serious is Tony Romo about retirement?

Through one week of training camp, the question at UCHealth Training Center isn’t, Which QB has been better? Trevor Siemian’s been the better quarterback than Paxton Lynch for over a year now. The question is what the Broncos are living for — now (Siemian) or on a prayer (Lynch)?

Broncos Football
Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) during drills at an NFL football camp Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) 

Neither has separated himself from the other. I departed Dove Valley on Wednesday thinking the Broncos' quarterback in 2018 might not be on the roster. But if he is, it’s Siemian, not Lynch. Trevor was better then (with Gary Kubiak), and now (with Vance Joseph). As for the future? No clue. The joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 16 and 17 will tell a ton.

“I think every player is going through that,” Joseph said Wednesday when asked if he, too, is worried about the “inconsistent” quarterback play through one week of training camp.

“V.J.” is playing nice. Not every player threw one of the worst interception I’ve ever seen, like Lynch did. It happened directly in front of Joseph and John Elway — the two men who, it’s safe to say, have the final say on this QB decision. Shoot a bullet into his leg, and Aqib Talib still could have made pick. The pass was a head-scratcher, as if Talib was the intended target.

Not every player is going 0 for 6 on his first six passes like Siemian. A few days ago, the quarterback struggles of both led Joseph to lament "I didn't like what I saw today, to be honest." I’m not arrogant enough to think I know where this quarterback competition stands in the eyes of the Broncos. They see things — on the field, in film study, in dreams — the rest of us don’t.

But we can listen like pros. And the new stadium name should be Faint Praise Field at Mile High.

“Every player, if you grade the film, has had good plays and bad plays,” Joseph said.

“Both of them got the potential to start right now,” wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said.

“We’re going to see when the lights go on,” Sanders said. “What are you going to do in games?”

Because it’s not happening in practice.

The good news, so far: the stars entered training camp on a mission. Von looks bigger and quicker than a year ago, when he finished second in the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year voting. The others — Thomas, Talib, Chris Harris Jr., T.J. Ward, etc. — took this missed-the-playoffs things seriously.

“I put a weight room in my house in Houston,” Sanders said. “It’s 2 o’clock in the morning, I’m working out.”

The bad news, by far: the quarterbacks haven’t gotten hit yet, and they haven’t been good enough, yet. Confirmation bias rules the day. If you were Team Paxton before this training camp, you remain Team Paxton. If you were Team Trevor before this camp, you remain Team Trevor. Neither looks better or worse, more like the same — and that says more about Lynch than Siemian, since the Broncos overhauled the coaches and playbook, in part, to fit Lynch.

When choosing the quarterback, the schedule must be considered. The Broncos open with the Chargers (home), Cowboys (home, though Mile High will feel neutral with Texas in town), Bills (road) and Raiders (home). In order, those are toughies against Philip Rivers (who loves "Monday Night Football" and has had some success here, you’ll recall), the NFC’s reigning No. 1 seed (in the Cowboys), the man who coordinated the Broncos offense last year (and these two quarterbacks, in Rick Dennison) and the Raiders.

To feel good about their playoff chances, the Broncos should start 3-1, at the least. The bye is in Week 5. In the quarterback controversy that most closely resembles this one, the 2011 Broncos had a bye in Week 6. They switched from the incumbent (Kyle Orton) to the upstart (Tim Tebow). They made the playoffs. The first choice is not always the season-long choice.

Right now there is no obvious choice. Worry away.

Twitter: @bypaulklee

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