In the first full night of NFL preseason action, the Denver Broncos’ contest against the Chicago Bears will have a more significant impact than the rest of Thursday’s slate.
Many opening preseason games will barely affect any starting lineups, but in a league driven by quarterbacks, Bears-Broncos will feature four pass-throwers who are competing for starting spots – either immediate or eventual.
Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Mike Glennon, and Mitchell Trubisky will all split some of the most important snaps on Thursday, though the Broncos and Bears are at different stages of their quarterback competitions. Glennon has been named the Week 1 starter for Chicago, while the battle between Siemian and Lynch in Denver is still undecided.
Each passer has their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as individual expectations to meet in their first game action of 2017. Here’s a quick look at where each quarterback stands.
The 25-year-old is the incumbent in Denver and the current reported leader in the Broncos’ quarterback battle as the team welcomes back offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and his system.
Siemian put up modest numbers as a breakout starter in 2016. This week, he told the Denver Post’s Nicki Jhabvala that things have been “clicking” for him recently, adding, “I got a big-picture thought of how we’re trying to attack scheme and defenses.” The former seventh-rounder was perceived as a game-manager of sorts last season, but could turn over a new leaf in McCoy’s high-octane offense.
If Siemian can succeed as a more aggressive passer with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas to throw to, he could take a commanding lead over his main competitor.
If Siemian is the game-manager, Lynch is the gunslinger – or at least that’s how Sanders has characterized the two quarterbacks.
The 26th overall pick in 2016 appeared very raw in his first training camp, preseason, and regular season, completing 49-of-83 passes for 497 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. Many assumed the coaches and front office would favor Lynch after selecting him in the first round, but Siemian’s reportedly outplayed him through the bulk of training camp and OTAs.
Unfortunately for the 23-year-old, the Broncos do not have a deep set of weapons on offense, so his stats Thursday may not say much about his development. The Broncos already know Lynch is an above-average athlete with a big arm – he needs to show them he can run the offense.
Though Glennon’s Week 1 job is safe, this is his first appearance as a starter since 2014. The 6-foot-6 passer signed a three-year, $45-million contract with the Bears before they drafted Trubisky. Thursday is his first chance to show he can help Chicago improve on its franchise-worst 3-13 record from 2016.
It’s not clear who will be part of the offense that Glennon commands, as the Bears have overhauled their receiver corps in an effort to replace Alshon Jeffery. Cameron Meredith will presumably be part of the first-team unit, while the likes of Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Rueben Randle, and Victor Cruz will probably cycle between catching passes from Glennon and his eventual successor.
After infamously starting just 13 games in his final college season, the Bears have deemed Trubisky too inexperienced to be a starter by Week 1 – but as a second overall pick, it’s only a matter of time before he gets the call. Thursday’s game will give the public its first indication of how long that wait will be.
As mentioned above, Trubisky will likely get a chance to work with several other players who are also competing to crack the starting lineup. He’s reportedly been less than impressive in practice, and the 22-year-old could have a rough night in his first taste of NFL action. The measuring sticks that Trubisky should focus on, however, are his game-to-game development and how his performance compares to Glennon’s.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
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