Trevor Siemian will retain his starting position and lead the team onto Sports Authority Field at Mile High when the regular season starts week one against AFC West rival Los Angeles Charges, having held off Paxton Lynch to do so.
Siemian being named the starting quarterback impacts both the offense and defense.
On offense, expect the Broncos to look very much like they did in the 2016 season.
The biggest complaint from fans and media alike was that despite possessing some of the best playmakers in the NFL, the Broncos offense often lacked explosive plays from all areas of the field. As he has displayed in both practice and in preseason games, Siemian continues to play conservatively, rarely taking risky chances for big plays.
Having produced only 18 touchdowns last season, the Broncos will lean heavily on their running game to keep the ball moving and put points on the board. In the two preseason games so far, the Broncos offense has rushed for 106 and 146 yards, respectively. Though preseason games are hard to gauge overall performance for the regular season, those numbers are marked improvements compared to the 92.8 yards a game averaged over the 2016 season.
In terms of production at the wide receiver position, expect both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to continue performing at a Pro Bowl level. In what was considered a “down” year, Thomas still earned 1,083 yards and five touchdowns on 90 catches.
In Mike McCoy‘s offense, which historically has featured pass-happy play calling, the number of receptions should only increase. Sanders should also see the same level of success, who will probably see quick throws and shorter routes and use his shiftiness to compensate for Siemian’s preference to throw underneath coverage.
In 2016, Siemian tossed only ten interceptions, limiting the amount of turnovers committed, but also threw for only 18 touchdowns. This kind of conservative play will serve the Broncos well on the offensive side of the ball, as turning drives into points will allow the defense to play while protecting a lead, instead of trying to recapture it.
If Siemian continues to take care of the football, the Broncos can essentially force their opponents to play a battle of field position, challenging opposing quarterbacks to make bigger plays. My money would be on the Broncos defense. They showed against the 49ers, where the team forced five turnovers, that they are still an elite unit capable of changing a game on any drive.
A Siemian-led offense that features shorter passes and a stronger emphasis on the running game will allow the Broncos to use up much more of the game clock. A greater time of possession would keep the defense off the field for longer periods of time and allow them to come back onto the field fresher.
For this to happen, Siemian will need to improve on his overall completion percentage as well as his third-down conversion percentage. So far this preseason, Siemian owns a 77.78 percent completion percentage, which could be a good sign of things to come.
While the battle for the rights to be the starting quarterback divided some of the fanbase into “Team Lynch” and “Team Siemian,” the decision is now final. Trevor Siemian is steering the ship now, and we are all passengers along for the journey. For now, this is his team. As with all quarterbacks, his play will largely determine the fate of the 2017 Denver Broncos.