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Gary Kubiak Comments on Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and Broncos QB Competition

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2016

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) during an NFL football practice at the team's headquarters Wednesday, June 8, 2016, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Most have assumed all offseason long that the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback position was Mark Sanchez's to lose. Not so, according to Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak.    

“Trevor [Siemian] and Mark have looked each other in the eyes the whole offseason,” Kubiak said Tuesday, per Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post. “When I sit there and watch them practice, I think they’re right there banging on each other. Those two guys are right there with each other. It’s a very competitive situation. They’re obviously ahead of our young guy right now from a mental standpoint.”

Siemian, 24, was the Broncos' seventh-round pick a year ago. He served as the third-string quarterback for most of the 2015 season, though he was promoted to the team's backup after Peyton Manning went down with a foot injury. His only NFL experience was a kneeldown to end the first half in a December game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sanchez, 29, came over in an offseason trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. He appeared in 13 games in Philadelphia over the last two seasons, showing marked improvement over the guy who seemed lost at times with the New York Jets. The short passing game and quick decisions of then-Eagles head coach Chip Kelly's offense seemed to suit Sanchez well. He had thumb surgery in May but recovered in time for minicamp.

Neither Siemian nor Sanchez is expected to be Denver's long-term option under center. The team traded up to select Memphis' Paxton Lynch in April's draft at No. 26 overall. Lynch, a 6'7", 245-pound behemoth with above-average athleticism and a rocket arm, is trying to translate his obvious physical talent to the NFL's mental side.

“The young kid is extremely talented and young and does a lot of great things and then has his troubles,” Kubiak said.

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The Broncos have set up a quarterback competition in part to take the pressure off the 22-year-old, who is clearly the third in command at this point. After playing in a spread, screen-heavy scheme at Memphis, Lynch has a lot of work to do in adjusting to Kubiak's play-action-heavy, stretch-running playbook.

“I need to be more consistent,” Lynch said. “I come out here and have some great days; then I come out here and have some not-so-great days.”

The underlying truth here is that none of these guys has to be very good in order to improve on last season's performance under center. Manning was arguably the worst quarterback in NFL history to win a Super Bowl in 2015. Brock Osweiler—he of the four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texas—wasn't demonstrably better.

No team threw more interceptions, and only the Los Angeles Rams (then of St. Louis) had a worse team quarterback rating. Other than yards (where Denver was 14th), the Broncos ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in every major passing category. Becoming league average would be enough to make the Broncos a far more dynamic offense.

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.