READ BETWEEN THE LINES: Gary Kubiak has made up his mind at quarterback

Denver Broncos

The wear and tear of a quarterback competition is clearly getting to Gary Kubiak.

After weeks of questioning from the media, inconsistent performances from his players and pressure from the fans, Kubiak is ready for to be done with it all; he’s ready for a quarterback. And if you read between the lines, it looks like he’s chosen his.

On Monday, Kubiak announced that Trevor Siemian would start for a second straight week in the Broncos’ third preseason game, and on Tuesday, it became clear that this was more than a one-week decision.

Let’s break down his words:

On Siemian not throwing on Tuesday:

“He just couldn’t throw today. Like I told you guys, he has a very sore shoulder when he made that tackle the other night. He did take run-game in practice and took individual, but was unable to throw today. We’ll see tomorrow.”

In theory, Siemian’s injury would be the perfect excuse to delay a decision on Saturday night’s starting quarterback — it’s not as if Kubiak has always been quick to pull the trigger on naming a starter. Instead, knowing Siemian was injured enough to miss a day of practice, he named him the starting quarterback with ample time to spare.

Now, is Siemian that injured? Probably not, but that’s not the point. The point is that Kubiak doesn’t care. He’d rather an injured Trevor Siemian get those reps than a healthy Mark Sanchez. That’s telling.

On Saturday’s QB depth chart:

“Probably by the end of the week. I expect Trevor to be ready to go, we’ll see.”

This may seem like an innocuous response when Siemian’s already been announced as the starter, but there’s a lot to unpack here. Mainly, who’s No. 2?

If everything was status quo — if everything was as it had been the last two weeks — Kubiak would treat this like a stupid question; he’d say Sanchez was second and Lynch was third, just like they’d been all offseason. But thing’s aren’t status quo, and Sanchez isn’t 1B to Siemian’s 1A. At this point, he’s likely not two to Siemian’s one.

In Kubiak’s eyes, Siemian is the Week 1 starter, and now he’s deciding whether it’s even worth keeping Sanchez on the roster — the Broncos would have to give up a seventh-round pick to Philly if he is. If he isn’t, they better give Lynch as many snaps as they can, because he’s one injury or interception away from starting in a meaningful game.

On how this experience is different from years past: 

“This is different. I’ve been doing this a long time and this is different with the situation and two very young players. I think they’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve all done good things, and here we are at the end of camp. It’s time to make some decisions and go with it. They’re working their tails off and I’m proud of all three of them.”

What we can’t forget is that this is legitimately a tough decision for Kubiak. He’s not just making his decision based off of performance; he’s having to decide between experience (Sanchez), safety (Siemian) and upside (Lynch).

And by choosing one, he’s tossing away the others.

Siemian may be the safe option, but Kubiak understands that he’ll be starting a quarterback without a career pass attempt who nearly went undrafted the year before. He also understands he’ll be starting a quarterback who, while he won’t turn the ball over as often as his counterparts, will likely never push the ball down the field, even when a receiver is open.

That’s a risk in and of itself.

Whatever decision he makes, there will be negative consequences. For now, though, it looks as if Kubiak is choosing safety over upside.

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