By not winning the starting quarterback job in Denver as a rookie, Paxton Lynch has made it harder for himself to win the starting quarterback job this year. And by not winning the job this year, Lynch has made it harder for himself to win the starting quarterback job next year.
As Trevor Siemian gets more experience, the game gets slower for him, and he becomes better suited to thrive. As Lynch watches, he doesn’t get the reps — and as a result it will take him even longer to reach the limit of his potential, whatever it may be. It’s a chicken-and-egg proposition that at some point needs to result in Lynch getting reps, or he’ll never becomes what he could be.
For now, the Broncos helping Lynch reach his potential took a back seat to putting the best player on the field right now.
“It’s strictly based on performance not potential,” coach Vance Joseph said on Wednesday’s PFT Live. “And we know that Paxton’s a rare talent. In my opinion, his future’s still bright. He’s a second-year guy and he needs more time. That’s the bottom line. He worked really hard in this competition. He was here early and left late. I was proud of Paxton of how he operated during the competition.
“It does not mean that we missed on Paxton because he’s not ready right now. I mean he’s going to have a chance to play in the near future and when he does play I told him, ‘When your chance comes again man, be ready to go.’ I believe in Paxton Lynch, our team believes in Paxton Lynch. I mean he just needs more time. It’s not like he lost a job. In my opinion, Trevor won the job. It wasn’t a failure on Paxton’s part, it was more of a win on Trevor’s part in my opinion watching both guys. I would feel very comfortable if we had to play with Paxton for a game or two.”
That may be the only chance Lynch has to get playing time this year, given that Joseph says the decision is permanent. Of course, how permanent is any decision in pro football? In the NFL, the team unconditionally, unequivocally, and unquestionable supports a guy until the exact moment that it doesn’t.
Joseph wants to give Siemian full support as he embarks on his second season as the starter. But if he doesn’t perform, and if they continue to feel the way they do about Lynch, the Broncos surely would make a change.
One clear factor in choosing performance over potential is the fact that the Broncos otherwise have a contending team. But Joseph says that, even if they didn’t, he would have gone with Siemian.
“I think you should always go performance first, because it’s a bottom-line business,” Joseph said. “It’s a win-or-lose business. I think every coach wants to win. So if you’re not going performance first, I think you’re failing in the building and everyone on your football team. In my opinion you have to go performance first and go potential second.”
For now, an adherence to performance first gives Siemian the first crack at the job. And if he runs with it, an interesting decision will be looming in 2018, with Siemian entering the final year of his contract and Lynch entering his third season.