DENVER -- The shame of it is Trevor Siemian had finally looked like a big-time NFL quarterback.
He appeared to be totally healthy again, not hampered by the bad left shoulder injured weeks earlier. He moved out of the pocket and threw on the run, and even scrambled five times (once for 14 yards).
Trevor completed 20 of 34 passes for 368 yards, and, impressively, averaged 10.8 yards per pass (a serious measure of success), and passed for three touchdowns. He had a 125.6 passer rating, which is extremely close to perfection, and found seven – count ‘em – seven different targets. Although Siemian connected with favorite target Emmanuel Sanders seven times for 162 yards, he seemed to discover fresh tight end A.J. Derby – “The Derb’’ – on four occasions for 43 yards, and the tight end is back in the Gary Kubiak offense.
Demaryius Thomas also had five catches for 60 yards. So Trevor was willing to throw down the field to his best two wideouts for a dozen receptions and 222 combined yards.
He also hit Bennie Fowler on that 76-yard catch-and-run late in the fourth quarter that resulted in a touchdown and the eight-point lead that should have won the game.
Trevor was on.
I saw him jumping around at the sideline after the Fowler touchdown and showing some emotion, and in the huddle, he put an arm around tackle Russell Okung and was his charging his mates.
Siemian was in control.
His performance, his actions, his leadership would give hope to Broncos backers that this team would beat the Chiefs, go on to compete for the AFC West title and have an honest, puncher’s chance to get back to the Super Bowl. All was looking up for Siemian and the Broncos.
Then, he got hurt again – this time a sprained foot. Sprained ankle? What? We don’t exactly know, although Kubiak always is honest about his team’s health issues. In overtime Siemian appeared to stumble awkwardly when his left foot was entangled for just a moment with one of his own linemen’s feet.
Siemian’s foot was placed in a boot cast the next day, and he hasn’t practiced since.
Although being listed as day-to-day, Siemian won’t play on Sunday at Jacksonville. Paxton Lynch will take over, and the Broncos probably could beat the Jaguars with you or me or Lionel or Troy at quarterback.
In fact, an esteemed former colleague who works for another media outlet has suggested that if Trevor were to be hurt, it comes at a good time because the Broncos can see how Lynch has progressed – Kubiak says he has come a long way after his lone start (a loss) earlier in the season – over the next two weeks, and they can get Siemian healthy for the last three important games of the season.
What a crock! There’s no good time for a starting quarterback to be injured, and, especially, in Siemian’s situation. He had come out of his cloud, was trusting himself and his throws and played great against K.C., although the Broncos would lose in overtime for a variety of reasons.
The Broncos needed Siemian to build on what he did against Kansas City. Jacksonville and Tennessee would have given him two more opportunities – the first against a lousy team and the other versus an important team, both on the road – to hone his skills, spark his confidence level and prepare to face New England, Kansas City and Oakland in the stretch.
Instead, Siemian must sit out rather than stand out for at least two games, and who knows how many more? Just when he seemed to have a comfort level with his two receivers, his new tight end and with his two young running backs. And he understood that with a porous offensive line (that permitted five sacks) that he had to move about and get the ball off in a hurry and concentrate more on reading the safeties.
Timing is everything – with receivers and in life. And the timing of this injury couldn’t have been worse.
The Broncos still seem on course to be the 10-6 team I predicted before the season. That should be enough to put them in the playoffs as a wild card, but not enough to win a division or have a home game or make it through to the Super Bowl.
But they have found that Siemian is not going to turn the job over to Lynch without a mighty struggle before next season.
However, Siemian’s left shoulder first, and now his left foot, have left him left out. What a shame.