Trevor Siemian won the starting quarterback job in Denver last year and did nothing to relinquish it. Paxton Lynch didn’t come close to challenging Siemian for the job and never did anything to unseat him.
Yet, new coach Vance Joseph declared this week it’s a “50-50 … open competition” between Siemian, the 250th overall pick in 2015, and Lynch, the 26th overall pick last year.
The incumbent said he’s “not at all” insulted by having to fight for his starting job again.
“I think you learn pretty quickly, or at least I did, you’ve got to earn it every year, every day in the league. And that goes for beyond me and Paxton; that’s everybody,” Siemian said Thursday as the Broncos capped their first week of offseason workouts. “If you’re not playing well, earning a job or earning a spot, you’re not going to last very long. That’s the reality of the thing.
“I know I can get better. I’ve got a lot room to improve, but I think I’ve got some things I can build on. So, I’m really excited. I’m excited to get rolling. I’m healthy. I feel good.”
Siemian was medically cleared to participate in the offseason program after undergoing surgery in January on his left shoulder, which he bruised against Tampa Bay in October.
“I was just having problems lifting at the end of the season and it bothered me,” Siemian said in explaining why he opted for the operation. “And, knock on wood, hopefully I play well and I’ve got to be in the weight room quite a bit, so that’s not something I wanted to deal with.”
Siemian spent much of his offseason rehabbing at the Broncos headquarters and Lynch returned a couple of weeks ago to acclimate himself to the altitude.
Both quarterbacks said they’re eager to work with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy , who previously had success in Denver building offenses for Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning.
Lynch said he’s excited to see a healthier dose of the shotgun, which he ran exclusively at Memphis, deep passes and rollouts in the new playbook.
For his part, Siemian disputed the notion that McCoy’s style will benefit Lynch more.
“I think it helps everybody. That’s the plan, at least. I think it’s exciting. I think Coach McCoy, really our whole staff, is pretty special and they’ve got a proven track record all over the place. So, I’m looking forward to it for the whole group. I think we’ve got a chance to be special.”
Siemian threw for 3,400 yards and 18 touchdowns with 10 interceptions while going 8-6 last year. Lynch had two TD passes and an interception while throwing for 500 yards and going 1-1.
Siemian said last year made him a better quarterback.
“Well, I played,” Siemian said. “You can’t substitute those reps and I learned that pretty quickly. I think even toward the end of the year … the game just felt a little easier for me, I saw things a little better. And you can’t substitute those reps, so hopefully that helps me out.”
Lynch said having a year in the NFL under his belt — even though he only played 10 quarters — helps him, too.
“It’s a whole new system now than it was, but obviously there are some similarities,” he said. “You’re still going to take five-step drops and seven-step drops and make protection calls and read defenses. So, the fact that I’ve had a year to kind of adjust to that and go against our defense for a year is really going to benefit me.”
Lynch worked this offseason with Charlie Taaffe, a former longtime college play-caller, to refine his footwork and overall game.
Siemian said he wants to improve “across the board,” too, but there’s one aspect of his game he’s really going to focus on: protecting himself better.
The vicious hit that knocked him out of a game at Tampa Bay on Oct. 2 left him with a sprained A.C. joint in his left shoulder that sidelined him for a game, affected him for weeks and led to his offseason operation.
“You look around the league, the older guys that stay healthy, they’re really smart with the football,” Siemian said. “… I don’t know if I thought I was Superman my first year and I could take a bunch of hits, but I can’t play for an extended career doing that. So, that’s something I’ll fix.”
Siemian even joked he’s been practicing taking a dive.
“Yeah, I’m going outside and falling down a few times,” he cracked, “tripping up on the way to the weight room intentionally.”