The biggest difference between the seasons was at quarterback. Two years ago Peyton Manning was running the show. Last year it was Trevor Simien.
Opening Broncos QB odds at BookMaker
Trevor Siemian -360
Paxton Lynch +270
Simien won the job in Gary Kubiak’s offense last season and had respectable numbers. They weren’t those of Manning or John Elway, but then again few QBs can produce like that. But those two Hall-of-Famers played for the Broncos and the bar for quarterback play in the Mile High city has been raised to a level very few can reach.
Simien certainly won’t reach it. What he did last season is probably what we can expect from him. He did win the starting gig in camp last year, but the competition wasn’t what you would call stiff. Simien beat out an aging Mark Sanchez and rookie Paxton Lynch. Somewhere there’s a rule among coaches that says you can’t play a first-round draft pick because the player may see his development stunted. Well, Carson Wentz put a dent in that theory last year and countless others have as well.
At least Simien had a little experience, more than rookie Lynch, and given his age he certainly had more upside than Sanchez. Simien didn’t disappoint. He threw for over 3,400 yards and averaged nearly 230 per game. But there was nothing about his play that screamed winner. He completed fewer than 60 percent of his throws and tossed 10 interceptions while getting sacked 31 times.
Those 14 starts and pedestrian numbers are lost on new head coach Vance Joseph. A former defensive coordinator, Joseph said this offseason he wants his offense to score points and he’ll give a good look at both Simien and Lynch with the hopes that one of them will rise to the occasion. The Broncos also have a new offensive coordinator in former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy and the plan is to spread the offense with more shotgun snaps.
That’s an offense that favors Lynch, who did damage at Memphis in the spread. In his senior season, Lynch completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,776 yards and tossed 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He threw for nearly 8,900 yards over his three-year career. He also has the tools that Elway possessed during his playing days. Lynch has the size at 6-7 and 240 pounds, is more nimble in the pocket than Simien and has a stronger arm. All those traits, along with his comfort level working from the shotgun, will benefit Lynch in the position battle.
Simien is the prohibitive favorite at -360 to win the job, but this battle is much closer than the odds suggest. Simien had his chance last season and the offense was stagnant and at times boring. The Broncos ranked 22nd in passing offense and 27th in total offense.
The safe pick is Simien in this battle. He does have the experience after starting 14 games last season and learning under Manning the season before. And while Simien might be a student of the game, Lynch has the tools to make the offense more potent.
Bet on current QB Match Up odds at BookMaker: Paxton Lynch +270