Hardly hog wild over QBS

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - MARK KI S ZLA

You can put lip­stick on a pig. But the pig still won’t fly. In the only com­pe­ti­tion at Bron­cos train­ing camp that re­ally mat­ters, quar­ter­backs Trevor Siemian and Pax­ton Lynch keep com­ing up small. It’s not pretty, and it was no dif­fer­ent Satur­day, in a scrim­mage coach Vance Joseph had la­beled “huge.” Both Lynch and Siemian are so nice, it’s as if they are afraid to win the job for fear of hurt­ing the loser’s feel­ings.

With five weeks and a day un­til Den­ver opens the reg­u­lar sea­son, it’s too early to panic, Bron­cos Coun­try. But the queasy feel­ing in the pit of your stom­ach? That’s not a bad bur­rito you ate for lunch. It’s the anx­i­ety re­sult­ing from two quar­ter­backs that have in­spired zero con­fi­dence.

Bron­co­ma­ni­acs are not fair-weather fans. They love their team like fam­ily. That’s why it was so telling when a young fan stood up Thurs­day dur­ing a fo­rum hosted by the Bron­cos and told wide re­ceiver Em­manuel San­ders he was try­ing to stay pos­i­tive about an of­fense strug­gling to find its foot­ing, but …

“It’s sup­posed to be rocky.

We’re in the Rocky Moun­tains,” San­ders replied. “We’ve got a quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion, and that’s why peo­ple say it’s rocky.”

At prac­tices where Siemian or Lynch can’t belch without it be­ing in­stantly an­a­lyzed in 140 char­ac­ters or less, much of the anal­y­sis has re­vealed more about any given re­porter’s in­her­ent bias for his fa­vored start­ing can­di­date rather than any­thing that ac­tu­ally un­folds on the field.

On the eve of train­ing camp, gen­eral man­ager John El­way pre­dicted the re­sults of com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Lynch and Siemian would be ob­vi­ous and “seen by ev­ery­one.” Added El­way: “It’s going to show up.”

Step back from an ob­ses­sion with which quar­ter­back won the day, and the early re­sults of the com­pe­ti­tion are im­pos­si­ble to hide. Nei­ther Siemian nor Lynch has played with the con­sis­tency or ef­fi­ciency the Bron­cos need to be a cham­pi­onship con­tender.

If the light has gone on for Lynch in his sec­ond year as a pro, then the bulb isn’t very bright. Oh, there are flashes of the big arm and a huge up­side that made me stand up and cheer when El­way drafted Lynch — as is Lynch’s nasty habit of want­ing to mi­crowave ev­ery de­ci­sion.

If his grat­i­fi­ca­tion on any given play is less than in­stant, Lynch re­flex­ively tucks tail and runs, or he tele­graphs a pan­icky throw to a sec­ondary re­ceiver with im­pa­tience that Aqib Talib or Chris Har­ris pounce on like sharks to blood in the wa­ter.

Too many of Siemian’s passes seem to be made by a quar­ter­back with one eye cast down­field and one eye over his shoul­der, as if he also be­lieves the Bron­cos are look­ing for any rea­son to give the start­ing job to Lynch.

Siemian rolls with the eco­nomic pol­i­tics of the NFL. But he’s also a case study in how empowering it can be to have a coach in your cor­ner, and that un­shak­able faith in Siemian left Den­ver when Gary Ku­biak re­signed as coach.

The de­ci­sion on a start­ing quar­ter­back need not be com­pli­cated. If Joseph can­not trust Lynch to make more ex­plo­sive plays than men­tal er­rors, the Bron­cos will go back to Siemian, milk the clock, lean on the de­fense and hope a con­ser­va­tive strat­egy some­how pro­duces 10 vic­to­ries in a di­vi­sion so evenly matched that turnover mar­gin could de­ter­mine which team fin­ishes first.

Dur­ing much of last sea­son, Ku­biak looked as if he ate a bad bur­rito for lunch. But when Ku­biak walked back on the prac­tice field last week as the for­mer Bron­cos coach, all the stress was erased from his face. Scor­ing points with Den­ver’s of­fen­sive per­son­nel is no longer his prob­lem. The in­di­ges­tion has been in­her­ited by new of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Mccoy, try­ing might­ily to hide the de­fi­cien­cies of Lynch and Siemian with smoke and mir­rors.

It’s pos­si­ble Mccoy will dis­cover some­thing like a rhythm for this of­fense. Lynch could learn to stand and de­liver rather than scram­ble at the first sign of trou­ble. If given the start­ing nod, per­haps Siemian will stop look­ing over his shoul­der and be­gin look­ing for San­ders down the field.

The truth, how­ever, seems ob­vi­ous to any­body with eyes. No mat­ter who wins the start­ing job in Den­ver, the Bron­cos will com­pete against Oak­land, the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers and Kansas City with the fourth-best quar­ter­back in the AFC West.

With time and pa­tience, maybe the Bron­cos can de­velop Siemian or Lynch into a cham­pi­onship quar­ter­back.

But it might be eas­ier for Mccoy to teach pigs to fly.

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