Gazette columnist Paul Klee offers three quick thoughts from Indianapolis after Denver's 25-13 win against the Colts:
1. Has Trevor Siemian played his final game as a Bronco?
When the history of the 2017 Broncos is written — hey, somebody’s going to do it — the genesis of their issues can be pared down to one man: Paxton Lynch. He wasn’t good enough to win the starting job — in consecutive seasons. He wasn’t healthy enough to play Thursday night at the Colts — even though he looked quite capable during a pregame workout at Lucas Oil Stadium. Really, how many chances does one man get? We’ll learn how the Broncos feel about Lynch when they play the Redskins on Christmas Eve. If Lynch doesn’t play, again, it will be déjà vu to the season finale last year, when Gary Kubiak rolled with Trevor Siemian, instead of Lynch, in a meaningless game against the Raiders. Call it a hunch: when Siemian was smashed into the turf on Denver’s second drive, the seventh-rounder-turned-starting-quarterback played his final snap with the Broncos. Siemian was ruled out of the game with another left injury to his left shoulder — the same shoulder on which he had surgery during the offseason. By the pained look on his face as the training staff monitored the shoulder, Siemian's season is over. The Broncos are down to their final two games. Why wouldn’t the Broncos get one final look at their first-round quarterback? Because Lynch has been that bad. If I had to wager a guess, only two of the current quarterbacks will be on the roster in 2018: Osweiler (as a backup) and Chad Kelly (as the backup to the backup). But only a fool would blame Siemian for winning the competition he was assigned to win. The real goat is the candidate who lost.
2. Football's dark days
The days of blissful ignorance are gone. NFL players know what they’re getting into. And what they’re getting into is a nasty, violent game that’s going to see fewer and fewer participants in the near future. Colts tight end Brandon Williams was the latest voluntary victim. Early in the second quarter, Williams took a hit that landed him on a stretcher. Williams has a history of spinal issues. His career at the University of Oregon was cut short because of them. Yet there he was Thursday night, living a dream until it became a nightmare. Players from both teams hustled to his side when Williams was lifted — extremely slowly and carefully — onto a cart that removed him from the playing field. According to the Colts, Williams sustained a head injury but had movement in his limbs. The Colts said there was no injury to his neck and he was strapped down only for precautionary measures. It was the latest ugly example why my kids will never play football.
3. Rest easy, Vance Joseph
It was always a long shot that John Elway would pull the plug on the Vance Joseph era after one season. Now that he's won consecutive games in December, Joseph can rest easy. Despite a 5-9 record, Joseph has all but assured himself of a second season in Denver. Nevermind that the wins came against the Jets and the Colts. They were signs that Joseph can motivate his roster with nothing on the line, and that's no easy task. Should Joseph return in 2018? I have my doubts. But now it can be justified. Yes, there were some head-scratching moments, even in victory. How do you earn a delay-of-game penalty on a field goal attempt? Why does special teams so often look lost? But with the playoffs long forgotten, Denver turned in its best performance on the road in over a year. The Broncos' first road win since Dec. 4, 2016, came at a good time for a coaching staff that's left much to be desired in 2017.