DENVER — Broncos coach Gary Kubiak didn’t announce a decision about the team’s starting quarterback Saturday night, but he said he now has enough information to make one.
The Broncos’ 17-9 preseason win over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night marked Trevor Siemian‘s second consecutive preseason start for the Broncos. And Siemian looked composed and comfortable running the team as he finished a workmanlike 10-of-17 for 122 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Rookie Paxton Lynch followed Siemian into the game as the Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback and Mark Sanchez did not play. Afterwards, Kubiak said the decision about who would start the regular-season opener Sept. 8 against the Carolina Panthers would be made in the coming days.
“I’ve got a lot invested and a lot of work that I can make some decisions off of now,” Kubiak said. “I’ll do that. Does that mean I’m going to do it [Sunday] or Monday? I don’t know. I’ve got enough going on that I can make a decision.”
Siemian, a seventh-round pick in the 2015 draft, has shown he made the most of his season with Peyton Manning in the Broncos’ run to last season’s Super Bowl win. He has been the most consistent quarterback over the past few weeks and is in position to hear his name and the word “starter” in the same sentence.
Asked following Saturday’s game if he believed he would be named the starter, Siemian said, “I feel confident. Ultimately it’s up to [Kubiak]; it’s a better question for him.”
But asked if he believed he had done enough to be the starter, Siemian said, “I do, but again, that’s not my call. I’ll just try to be the best teammate I can be.”
Following the game, when asked to evaluate Siemian’s performance, Kubiak noted the calm Siemian showed, something the quarterback’s teammates have referenced as well. Kubiak pointed out how Siemian led a scoring drive following a drive that ended with his interception.
“I’m impressed. I think he’s very calm,” Kubiak said. “I can tell by the way he handles the team in the huddle, he’s got control of what’s going on. Gets a bad break on the ‘go’ ball and comes right back and goes down the field. I think what I see is a guy getting better. … I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m going to make a decision this week. … I’m going to do that, but at the same time, I’ve got a lot of things going on. I’ll take my time and do it the right way.”
Kubiak said he informed Sanchez of the decision to play Lynch for the entire second half “before breakfast” on Saturday, and that Kubiak went that direction because he needed to see Lynch play. Lynch had only played against third-teamers in his first two preseason games.
“I, obviously, thought about it all week long,” Kubiak said. “I sat down with Mark this morning, before breakfast. I said, ‘Mark I’m going to play Paxton in the second [half] and if things go the way I think, and Trevor plays as long as I think he’s going to play, then I’m not going to put you in there with four or five minutes to play. Bottom line: I’ve got a lot to go on on Mark. He’s played a lot of football. I need to see the other two kids play.”
Said Lynch: “[It] felt good. I got a lot of playing time. First, I just feel more comfortable. I’m not so surprised by what’s going on. … When we came out, before we went out, he told me I was going to get the whole second half.”
Lynch finished 6-of-13 passing for 57 yards. The Broncos must now decide if they are really going to have Siemian as a starter and Lynch as a backup even though neither has thrown a pass in an NFL regular-season game.
There are also business factors at work. Sanchez is slated to count $4.5 million against the salary cap, and the Broncos would not have to surrender a conditional draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles if Sanchez was not on the roster to open the season.
Sanchez was not in the locker when the other quarterbacks were speaking. This past week, he said he hoped to take the competition “down to the wire.”