Unless John Elway calls an audible, expect Vance Joseph to name Trevor Siemian the Broncos’ 2017 starting quarterback in the very near future.

Joseph said on Saturday after his team’s 33-14 preseason victory over the 49ers, “It’s about performance not potential,” when it comes to deciding the starter.

Both the raw numbers and the eye test through two preseason games give the nod to Siemian over Paxton Lynch. He’s been more productive and simply looks more in control of the Denver offense.

Like the logic or not, Siemian gives the Broncos the best chance to win right now. But does he give the Broncos the best chance to win from now on?

In his second-most-quoted line since taking over as the head of football operations in Denver, Elway has repeatedly said the goal in Denver isn’t just to win now, but to win from now on.

That’s really what’s at the core of the Siemian vs. Lynch debate.

How can Denver win now, and also win from now on?

There should be little doubt Siemian gives the Broncos the best chance to win right now. But that very phrase, “best chance to win,” sends shivers down the spine of many. It harkens back to the Kyle Orton days, when the fan base was told that a middle-of-the-road quarterback from a mediocre Big Ten program was a better choice at quarterback than a run-after-first-read, win-any-way-possible, first-round draft pick waiting in the wings.

Sound familiar?

The fact that Lynch is now drawing comparisons to Tim Tebow should have less to do with his play on the field and more to do with the parallels between the Orton-Tebow situation and Siemian-Lynch.

The first “best chance to win” played out poorly – literally and figuratively. Orton was 3-10 with Tebow looking over his shoulder in 2010, then 3-5 to start 2011 when the “BC2W” moniker was laid on his shoulders. John Fox never lived down the phrase.

While Siemian has already proved that he won’t completely crumble under pressure of a first-round pick looking over his shoulder, as Orton did, his detractors will say that the 8-6 record he delivered last year as a starter is his ceiling.

Sure, that’s winning in the academic sense of the word. But that’s not the kind of winning John Elway and Denver Broncos fans expect. Winning from now on means making the playoffs and making a deep run – in short, competing for a championship – every year.

Siemian undoubtedly gives the Broncos the best chance to have a winning record right now, and merely equivocating him to Orton would be unfair.

His supporters say give him the chance to prove he can be the kind of from now on winner Elway envisions. They’ll take a 9-7 record (or better), believing that a break here or there, or even a slight uptick in Siemian’s play could result in a playoff run. They remember other late-round draft picks like Tom Brady who just needed an opportunity and some time (while they remind us that Brady’s Patriots were 9-7 in his second season). They say Siemian has earned the starting job and should keep it until someone can take it from him. They say Lynch hasn’t done that.

That’s where best chance to win and best chance to learn collide.

Siemian’s detractors say Denver will never win big with him, and playing him over Lynch only stunts the development of a first-round pick who needs the reps. They’d accept the possibility of a losing season in 2017 for the potential of multiple division titles and conference championships down the road. They see his size, athleticism and arm strength and can’t help but see glimpses of another first-round pick who now runs the football team. They remember when Elway was benched as a rookie, only to go 34-7 as a starter over his next three years. They say let the kid learn on the job and see where things go.

Does putting Lynch on the field give him the best chance to learn – more specifically, to learn how to win?

It did the trick for the likes of Brady, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck, and (so far) Dak Prescott. It didn’t work out so well long-term for Tebow, Geno Smith, Ryan Tannehill, Robert Griffin III and others. It took some time for Derek Carr and Cam Newton. The verdict is still out for Blake Bortles. There are countless examples for, against and in-between.

Would giving Lynch another year (or more) on the sidelines to study and grow as an NFL quarterback produce better long-term results?

Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers suggest it could. Brock Osweiler, Matthew Stafford and Colin Kaepernick remind us you never know what you’re going to get with that approach.

The number of first- and second-round QBs who have been granted time to learn the game from the sidelines are a fraction of those that were thrust into a starting role of (10 or more games as a rookie). In the “Not For Long” league, fans and management both want to know sooner than later what they have on their hands. It’s why the pro-Lynch crowd is so quick to cast Siemian aside. In the NFL, the best chance to learn happens on the field – good or bad.

John Elway may want Paxton Lynch to win the starting job and prove him right for using a first-round pick on him, but he also appears patient enough to give Vance Joseph and the coaching staff the right to choose the quarterback they think gives them the best chance to win, even if that isn’t Lynch.

If, by chance, Lynch is named the Week 1 starter it’s because the best chance to learn suddenly became more important than the best chance to win.