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Woody Paige: Paxton Lynch still not rising to Broncos' challenge

August 13, 2017 Updated: August 13, 2017 at 7:15 am
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Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) scrambles during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

On Aug. 2, 2018, in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, the next Broncos Battle Royale begins.

Paxton Lynch, Chad Kelly, Trevor Siemian and Kyle Sloter?

Or will the duel just be between 2K - Kyle and Kelly?

In QB Quandary II, Clever Trevor, for the second straight year, is winning by default, and it's Passive Paxton's fault he's losing.

Lynch has been provided with an opportunity to displace Siemian as the Broncos' starting quarterback "for now and now on" - John Elway's preferred phrase. But instead of seizing the job by the throat, Elway's preferred quarterback has "grabbed the bottom," to borrow testimony from a celebrity trial in Denver. Taylor Swift's delivery last week was stronger than Lynch's.

Paxton will have his final argument in Santa Clara on Saturday, but he hasn't made his case so far.

Let's be Frank (Tripucka) here. On a real depth chart, Lynch wouldn't be listed as co-No. 1, but, rather, fourth string behind Siemian, Sloter and even Kelly, who hasn't thrown a business pass.

As I wrote a week ago, Sloter was the Broncos' best QB in the quasi-intrasquad scrimmage. I write this week: The former Northern Colorado Bears quarterback was the best again in the victory over the Chicago Bears. He was at the controls for the Broncos' two offensive touchdowns.

There are driverless cars, and there were driverless horses for three quarters Thursday night against "The Minions of the Midway" defense.

Here are 10 takeaways from the Broncos' performance in the opening exhibition:

- Chris Harris' touchdown takeaway (similar to his Pick 6 against Lynch in the scrimmage) revealed, unsurprisingly, that the Broncos must depend almost entirely on the defense for another season. The offense is Question Mark and The Mysterians.

- The Broncos quarterbacks didn't connect with tight ends once, which says something critical about the quarterbacks and the tight ends.

- Siemian and Lynch converted 1 of 8 third downs, including the typical third-and-1 flop, and also had a fourth-down dud.

- Neither quarterback managed one pass play that gained more than 14 yards.

- Continuing what occurred regularly in 2016, the Broncos' offense couldn't score a touchdown in the first quarter with Siemian as the starter. He was sacked on his inaugural play, but did take the Broncos 60 yards (aided substantially by 35 yards in Bears penalties) before failing on third down. The Broncos were forced to kick a field goal. In 21 minutes and 20 plays Siemian was 6 of 7 for 51 yards with his right wing on conservative tosses.

- Despite new offensive coaches, a new offensive line and new schemes, the Broncos still kept with a ink-a-dinka-do offense that produced fewer yards rushing (106) and passing (187) than the Bad-Breath Bears. "Three-and-out, and three points-and-out" is the Broncos' refrain.

- Lynch was 0 of 5 on third and fourth downs. Hesitant, he tried to scramble out of weak plays three times for, gasp, only 14 yards. He also was tackled for a 3-yard loss on the last play of the first half. He did complete 6 of 9 passes, but for a measly 42 yards (4.6 yards per attempt). He never seemed comfortable or in command during 9:21 of offense time (over 24 minutes of game time) and had drives - stalls - of 8, 8, 19 and 31 yards. This is a young man who can't or won't take advantage of being an NFL quarterback after being drafted in the first round (and traded up for). He eerily plays like Tommy Maddox, who also was drafted in the first round and busted.

- The offensive line remains a discombobulated unit without Matt Paradis at center, with Ron Leary on the wrong (right) side and with penalties and uncertainties.

- Offensive rookies Garett Bolles, De'Angelo Henderson, Isaiah McKenzie, Sloter and (to some extent) Carlos Henderson all performed better than veteran colleagues.

- Ignore "The Decision" and ponder "The Dilemma."

Coach Vance Joseph said after Saturday's practice that media opinions about the quarterbacks matter "not at all."

Obviously.

I shouted from the keyboard and the rooftops that the Broncos had to draft Dak Prescott and (a year later) trade for Tony Romo.

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