“Trevor [Siemian] will start the game this week.”
– Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak (Monday)

There you have it; Siemian is your starter.

For now. Maybe.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m fairly sick of this topic. But I’m sick of it for good reason – it just keeps going, and going and going. Something tells me Gary Kubiak might be more sick of it than anyone. He knows the question is coming, and he cordially (and Monday, quickly) answers it, but it’s being asked because the answer is not, and has never been, obvious. Kubiak probably wishes he could spend some time drawing an extra tricky hook-n-ladder play or something, but for now, he’s stuck with an ongoing evaluation. He’s got to make Denver’s toughest decision, and he’s running out of time to do so.

With no touchdowns, except for the one that the 49ers scored on Siemian’s pick-six, Siemian really hasn’t “won” the job. In all likelihood, Saturday night’s “dress rehearsal” is anything but; in the eyes of most, it’s still a “tryout.” While everyone longs for a clear-cut answer, there simply isn’t one. And, as we’re apt to do, we (as in the royal “we”) have plenty of theories and opinions. Here are a few worth considering:

Like It’s 1999

Yesterday, James Merilatt tweeted a reminder that Kubiak must be careful not to make the same mistake that Mike Shanahan made in 1999. In an effort to defend the organization’s second world championship, the Mastermind went with his gut and opted to play Brian Griese instead of veteran Bubby Brister, who posted a 4-0 record as the Broncos starter the year before. Shanahan has since said that starting Griese was a mistake. Whether or not the Broncos threepeat would have happened with Brister, and not Griese, at the helm, we’ll never know. Regardless, Merilatt’s point suggests that perhaps the Broncos only real veteran, Mark Sanchez, should get the start. (Siemian claims one regular season kneel-down; Griese had played in one game, in which he had one completion for two yards and one interception, prior to being handed the reins.) Or, as he not-so-subtly hinted in yesterday’s column (much to the chagrin of many of you), John Elway might want to give Peyton Manning a call. The real problem? There’s no Bubby Brister in sight.

Hurt So Good

Mile High Sports Radio host Eric Goodman, as he often does, came bounding into the office yesterday with a very interesting theory (albeit somewhat of a conspiracy theory) in hand. Since Kubiak has been in charge, Goodman has noticed a fairly undeniable pattern: Whenever a Broncos quarterback isn’t playing well, there’s always an injury that coincides with said poor play – and the injury is sometimes suspicious. Nobody likes to speculate how serious a player’s injury may or may not be, but the timeline Goodman laid out is peculiar at best.

Check it out: When Peyton Manning was finally yanked against the Chiefs last year, it was in part because of a lingering foot injury, one that hadn’t been revealed publicly before. When Brock Osweiler played poorly against the Steelers, it was noted that he had a shoulder injury, and when he was replaced by Manning later in the season, he “had a knee.” Yesterday, Kubiak – somewhat oddly – led the daily conversation with the media by saying that Siemian, while getting Saturday’s start, is battling a sore shoulder.

Hmm. Again, all of that could be entirely true and purely coincidental, but is it possible that the Siemian’s sore shoulder is a way to leave the door open for either of Kubiak’s other two options? If rookie Paxton Lynch looks great on Saturday, or Sanchez significantly rebounds, isn’t a “confidence saver” to say that Siemian is injured rather than demoted? What if, in four days of practice, somebody else emerges? (If that’s even possible this far in.) Nobody’s saying the head coach is fabricating injuries, but if recent history is an indicator, a Broncos starting quarterback with an injury might be heading to the bench – soon.

Money, it’s a Gas 

Gil Whiteley told me that the Broncos won’t cut Sanchez, but would certainly approve the decision if they did. Why? First of all, Sanchez is who he is. You don’t like the fumbles? Too bad; that’s what he does. Second, and more importantly, there’s money to be saved. There’s a reason that spotrac.com, a site dedicated to accurately accumulating the salary details of every athlete in pro sports, lists Sanchez as the top quarterback on their “Notable NFL Players on the Offseason Roster Bubble” list. If Siemian is going to start anyway, or if the Broncos go really bold and hand the rookie the keys, Sanchez might as well be gonzo. If he’s somehow traded, the Broncos will save $4.5 million (real money and in salary cap space); if he’s cut, it will only cost Denver $1 million against the cap. Only $1 million of Sanchez’s 2016 contract, the second in a two-year agreement he signed with Philly, is guaranteed.

Elway, one of the most ruthless execs in the league, could cut and save with Sanchez like a Westword coupon.

The Kids are Alright

Lastly, there’s my favorite unapologetic suggestion yet. That would be John Lynch, who was not afraid to offer his opinion during Saturday night’s broadcast. In short, “Start the kid!” was (John) Lynch’s message. In a day and age where we often gripe that broadcasters ride the fence, particularly via an outlet that’s an official partner of the team, Lynch stuck to his guns in suggesting that Kubiak should give young Paxton Lynch a shot with the first unit.

“Paxton Lynch has looked very sharp to me. Don’t be deceived by the numbers,” Lynch said during the 9News broadcast.

I wonder if Kubiak watched 9’s version – with audio – during film study? Actually, I wonder more if John Lynch was invited into a “closed door” meeting following the broadcast. For the record John, I loved the honesty.

My thought? Well, this is the best NFL preseason I can recall. For the past four years, we’ve all been forced to fake interest in Peyton Manning playing for one drive and then heading to the sidelines. It was a boring and painful tease that eased us into the regular season. This coming Saturday, I’ll gleefully watch all four quarters.

Exhibition or not, this is sheer entertainment.