Paxton Lynch’s night started off with a bang. On his first attempt of the game, Lynch connected with Jordan Taylor on a short comeback route, and Sunshine did the rest, taking the ball 57 yards to the house.

For the rest of the half, though, it was a mixed bag for Lynch, as he went 5-11 for 50 yards to finish the first two quarters. But it’s hard to blame him. While he missed a few throws high, he had nearly zero protection all night.

The Broncos may have upgraded their starting line this offseason, but their depth may be worse than ever.

In the third quarter, though, things got rolling.

Lynch continued to take hits, but he dealt them, too, launching bullets through the defense’s secondary. And it all started with this 20-yard pass to tight end John Phillips.

Lynch proceeded to drive the Broncos 88 yards down the field, finishing with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Taylor, the duo’s second of the night, to bring Denver within six points of the Cardinals.

Through three quarters, the Broncos first-round selection was sitting with a very respectable stat line of 12-19 passing (63%) for 205 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Whether he’s ready to take over the franchise now or not, it’s clear that he’s shown enough flashes to get the fans excited. Clearly, it’s only a matter of time before Lynch takes the reins and leads this Broncos offense for a long time.

And yet … he’s still a rookie, and rookies are far from perfect.

On Lynch’s very next drive, he threw an ugly pick six — very reminiscent of Trevor Siemian’s earlier this offseason. Does it ruin what was turning out to be a very successful night for the young quarterback? No. But it’s certainly an indication that he could use some more time in the incubator.

Now, the question is whether Lynch did enough to warrant the No. 2 job and kick Mark Sanchez out of town?

We’ll find out a week from tonight when the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers in the first game of the regular season.