The NFL season is inching closer. Through July, Shutdown Corner will examine three big questions for each NFL team as it heads to training camp.
1. Can Trevor Siemian hold off Paxton Lynch again?
Most teams that are still undecided at quarterback heading into training camp have something in common: They’re not very good. That’s not the case in Denver. The Broncos are the best team that has an unsettled quarterback situation (though the Texans might argue that “best team” claim). That’s assuming there is a quarterback battle. Siemian didn’t really do anything to lose his spot – and Lynch didn’t really do anything in his couple starts last season to push the issue. Siemian isn’t great but he threw for 3,401 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 14 starts. Lynch, a first-round pick last year, has the higher ceiling, but Siemian has a safe floor. Lynch got two starts last season and struggled in both, though a hyper-conservative game plan in his second start against the Jaguars didn’t help. Lynch will have to win the job in camp, which will be tough because Siemian typically does well in a controlled practice environment.
2. Is Vance Joseph an upgrade?
When Gary Kubiak surprisingly walked away after the season, he said he was worn out from the grind. As great as Kubiak was managing the 2015 championship season, it’s fair to wonder if he hindered the Broncos last season. The team took a calculated risk with Joseph. Joseph has no head-coaching experience and just one year as a coordinator. But a year after Kubiak struggled through his final season as Broncos coach, Joseph’s energy and leadership could give Denver a boost. It will be important in camp for Joseph to set the tone for his first season. Also, the Broncos have many new assistants, including replacing successful defensive coordinator Wade Phillips with Joe Woods. The Broncos will spend training camp perfecting their new schemes on each side of the ball. For a team that has had so much success this decade, this is a major transition season.
[Yahoo’s Pressing Questions: Fantasy outlook on the Broncos]
3. Are Demaryius Thomas and C.J. Anderson healthy?
Thomas said he hurt his hip in the first quarter of last season and it affected him all season. Anderson, who has had injury issues every season, played just seven games after having knee surgery to fix his meniscus. Anderson will probably share time with second-year back Devontae Booker, but when healthy Anderson is still one of the NFL’s best runners. Thomas’ return to full strength is probably more important to the Broncos. He’s the biggest difference-maker Denver has on offense. New coordinator Mike McCoy has said he wants to get Thomas more involved in the offense, which probably means more short receiver screens. Thomas is at his best on those plays because he’s fantastic when he has the ball in his hands and can pick up a head of steam. But first, he needs to prove he’s back to 100 percent in camp.
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