ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In a football-mad city that has seen the likes of John Elway and Peyton Manning play quarterback at a level few others could relate to, the position is always on the front-burner among the team’s faithful.
And as the Denver Broncos wind down their offseason program with this week’s mandatory minicamp, this year’s quarterback competition between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch has already filled countless hours of discussion within and around the team.
That might be all well and good, coach Vance Joseph said after Tuesday’s practice, but the team’s decision-makers haven’t really started keeping score yet.
Joseph re-affirmed Tuesday that the competition won't be decided until later this summer, even if the quarterbacks say they’ve gotten an early start anyway.
“It’s hard to get a true evaluation with these guys right now, because there’s much learning going on around those guys," Joseph said. “There’s been positive plays by both guys, there’s been big throws by both guys, there’s been terrible throws by both guys. Our mindset has not changed -- get to [training camp] and have a true evaluation."
Asked after Tuesday’s practice how Siemian's and Lynch's work during the offseason program will impact the final decision, Joseph even ratcheted that thought up a notch.
“This part? Probably zero to none. … It’s going to be won on the football field," Joseph said. “It’s going to be won in the games in the preseason, and that’s the way the evaluation starts; that has not changed for myself or for the staff."
That has been Joseph's mantra throughout the Broncos’ offseason program, even though virtually every throw Siemian and Lynch have made throughout the team’s open practices in OTAs and minicamps have been dissected plenty. The quarterbacks each say they already think it is clearly a competition right now, even as they work together, and that it will only be more pronounced after the players return for training camp in late July.
“Absolutely, I’m putting gum in his shoes, trying to make sure he’s late to practice," Siemian deadpanned Tuesday when asked how he and Lynch were handling their day-to-day business. “No, we’re good, we’re helping each other out. We’re both young, we’re both learning. It’s good for both of us. We’re pushing each other."
By all accounts, Siemian and Lynch have worked well together in meetings and on the practice field, just as they did last summer when they were part of a three-way quarterback competition. But the two also believe, no matter how Joseph and the other coaches frame it, they’re competing now, in minicamp, and they have competed throughout the offseason.
“Competition is good for everybody," Siemian said. “We don’t have it just at quarterback, it’s all over the field. In regards to me and Paxton, we’re pushing each other. I’m learning from him when he’s got his reps, and I’m sure he’s doing the same when I’m out there. It’s good for both of us."
"Obviously, as a human, if you’re competing against somebody and you do something wrong, you’re going to be like, 'He's got me now, I've got to go make a big play.'" Lynch said. "For me, I kind of felt that way when I first started. I just kind of learned it's [about] yourself and making yourself better."
Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has fully installed the offense, so the two quarterbacks have largely seen all they'll work with in the weeks and months to come. Joseph recommended every player, not just the quarterbacks, do at least some studying during the coming break before training camp.
“We’ve put a lot of football in from OTAs until minicamp here," Joseph said. “We don’t want guys to come back and be on zero. If you leave a 10, come back an 8. You can’t come back a zero, and that’s important for this football team with a new coaching staff in place."
Siemian and Lynch each said Tuesday they understand they will have to use the next six weeks or so as efficiently as possible. Siemian, who couldn’t work out for much of the early offseason after left shoulder surgery, said that would be a big item on his docket, while Lynch said he expected to work with quarterback guru Charlie Taaffe once again.
Taaffe was the head coach at the Citadel and a long-time offensive coordinator in college, and he also coached in the Canadian Football League. Lynch worked with him before the 2015 draft and earlier this year as well.
Siemian said the Broncos quarterbacks and the team’s receivers would probably get together for some throwing sessions as well.
“We’ll do something," Siemian said. “We’re talking about it right now. I’m sure you guys will see an Instagram post on it."
But in the end, Joseph said he’ll know when it’s time for a decision, whether he sees it on the practice field or in the preseason games.
“I don’t have a timetable on it," Joseph said. “It could be the first week of camp, it could be the end of preseason, I’m not sure. When I see clear separation, I’ll call it off."