Woody Paige: Siemian starts, but isn't solidified in Denver

Posted at 5:25 PM, Aug 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-29 19:25:00-04

The Broncos have discovered their No. 1 quarterback, and, by now, most people in Denver and the NFL can spell his last name, but Trevor Siemian (not Semean, Simian or Sanchez) is No. 4 in the AFC West.

The other three have combined to win 170 regular-season games. Trevor has won 0, started 0, played in one (for one kneel down).

If the four QBs in the division were to be ranked, Philip Rivers still must be at the top. The San Diego Chargers quarterback seems, to Broncos’ fanatics, to have been around forever, but he’s entering his 13th season and is in his 34th year. Rivers probably will win his 100th game this season, but he’s rarely been surrounded by a wealth of talent, and has reached the postseason only five times (and not since 2013). But he was a pain to the Broncos for years, and he remains the best of the bunch.

Derek Carr is the same age as Siemian (25), but he has started all 32 games in his first two seasons with the Oakland Raiders. His record is a miserable 10-22, but Carr improved considerably in 2015 — and so did his offense — and it must be remembered that he came into Denver and beat the Broncos. The Raiders are the team du jour in the conference after assembling a defense that is second only to the Broncos in the AFC West, and putting together an offense that will be better than the Broncos’. The Raiders are rolling through the meaningless exhibition season, and they could win eight or nine games in the real season and challenge for a playoff position. Our old friend Jack Del Rio has transformed the Raiders from pathetic to respectable.

And Carr is the motor on offense. For those who may have forgotten, he did play in the Pro Bowl last season (replacing Aaron Rodgers), becoming the first Raiders quarterback in the game since Rich Gannon 14 years before.

Carr is certainly better than his older brother David was, and I rank him No. 2 in the division.

Alex Smith still gets no respect outside of Kansas City. Maybe that’s because he was the first overall pick in 2005 — instead of Rodgers. Perhaps it’s because he was dumped in favor of Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, and the 49ers would advance to the NFC Championship game (losing to Seattle). Possibly it’s because he was shipped off to K.C., and the Chiefs haven’t been able to surpass the Broncos in the division (although they made the playoffs in 2013 and 2015). Or it’s probably because Smith has become known infamously as a game manager. Two years ago, he didn’t complete a touchdown to a wide receiver. He doesn’t figure on most fantasy teams, and he tends not to throw down the field, preferring to rely on dink-and-dump passes. And the Chiefs are more reliant on the run game.

But, in Kansas City, Smith has won almost twice as many games as he’s lost (30-16), and the Chiefs are considered a playoff possibility and a team capable of displacing the Broncos as the AFC West champs this season.

So that leaves Siemian, who will become the Broncos’ 45th starter against the Carolina Panthers. It’s not an easy situation taking over for a legend. Ask Brian Griese, who became the successor to John Elway, but never replaced him in the hearts of Denver loyalists, and drifted through a few seasons with the Broncos, oft-hurt and oft-hurting the team, before being pushed aside for Jake Plummer, who was pushed aside by Jay Cutler, who . . .

Siemian was solid, but not spectacular on Saturday.

He has earned the starting job, but, really, Mark Sanchez unearned it, and is on the way to the recycling center with a majority of the previous 100-plus quarterbacks who were with the Broncos in their history during the preseason and the regular season.

Paxton Lynch didn’t distinguish himself on Saturday night, so he’s destined to be the backup until Siemian struggles, if he does. I think Siemian will be fine in this system. He is calm, comfortable, cool, athletic and strong-armed. He probably will rise and fall based on the ability of the (shaky?) offensive line to protect him and open holes for the Gary Kubiak run-oriented system, and based on whether the defense can be world class again.

I still like Dak Prescott best. I wanted the Broncos to draft him. Now we’ll see what he can do as the Dallas Cowboys’ starter with Romo out for another extended time with another back injury. I feel for Romo, a good quarterback and a good guy who doesn’t deserve this.

Meanwhile, in Denver, the inexperienced Siemian has had his seminal moments. The Broncos have discovered their starting quarterback. Can he discover a way to avoid a 1-3 start to his career?


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