Siemian, a 2nd-year starter for the Denver Broncos, isn’t an elite quarterback, and he may never be, but they haven’t needed him to be to win games.
Through two weeks I saw some really good things by Siemian, but I also saw a few things that he still needs to work on. One of the things I noticed was his command of the play, from the huddle to whistle. He directs traffic and gets the offense in the right play pre-snap, makes decisions quickly, and takes what the defense gives him.
On the following play, you can see him change the play to a power run. It was a simple audible with only six guys in the box, due two a safety look that the defense was showing. Anderson receives the handoff, sets up his blocks, and forces several missed tackles with his tremendous balance.
The Broncos have a some playmakers at the skilled positions, and Siemian knows when to call upon them. Anytime they see man coverage, Siemian knows that WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders can win their matchups.
On 3rd-and-5 early in the game, the Broncos align in a 3×1 formation and motion a receiver to help Siemian identify the coverage. The Cowboys are in obvious man coverage, so the isolation route by Thomas to the bottom of the screen is an easy decision for Siemian. He remains calm, uses his eyes to hold the deep safety, and hits Thomas with a perfect pass, allowing him to gain yardage after the catch.
They run a similar route to Sanders later in the game, this time by giving Siemian a run-pass option after the play action fake. This was a really nice play design and route.
He has a really good understanding of matchups and when to take a shot, and you saw that on the prior two plays. Here, against the Chargers he took the matchup given to him, a tight end versus an inside linebacker. He is decisive after seeing single high coverage, and he has the brass to pull the trigger and throw his teammate open.
Siemian is a QB that reads low to high, which is why he was the perfect fit for Dennison’s system last season. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but having a QB like Siemian or Nathan Peterman can reduce the amount of explosive plays your offense may need to capitalize on game-to-game. Here, Siemian stays conservative with the throw to Anderson, rather than the deeper out route by the tight end.
Play look familiar? Throw to Clay week one and check down to Shady last week. Only difference was Denver ran it from RT hash. TE open pic.twitter.com/JbZVJDJAvg— Cover 1 (@Cover1) September 23, 2017
On this 3rd-and-2 play, he is reading low to high because they are trying to get to the sticks. For some reason, he comes off the flat route into the boundary. Instead of moving to the deep corner who appears to be the second receiver in his progression, he moves onto the third WR coming across the middle. The throw is slightly behind, and the Broncos miss out on a big play AND a play just past the sticks. You can’t be too mad at this play, but it’s just an example of Siemian’s limitations as a QB.
It happened a few times against the Cowboys, a game in which Siemian racked up four passing touchdowns. Gaudy numbers aside, he definitely left a few plays on the field.
Siemien has shown more command on offense that's for sure, but left a couple chunk plays on the field. 4 yard scramble pic.twitter.com/ObosvH3ijr— Cover 1 (@Cover1) September 23, 2017
On this 3rd-and-short play, he does a great job of escaping the pocket, peeking at the sticks, and running it, instead of making the throw to the receiver, who uncovers during the scramble. I love his awareness of the down and distance, but this is a pretty easy TD if he lets it rip.
Interesting decision made by Siemien on this play. WR comes uncovered but plays it safe to get the first with his legs. pic.twitter.com/WLJv6JuSBq— Cover 1 (@Cover1) September 23, 2017
It appears that the game is slowing down for Siemian. He looked very comfortable last week against the Cowboys. He kept the offense on schedule by getting the them into good play calls, and he took what the defense gave him.
The Bills’ defense is a lot better than that of the Cowboys. In fact, the Bills are the second-ranked overall defense in the NFL, including fifth against the run and sixth against the pass. They are a disciplined unit that can attack the QB, and their game plan should be pretty simple. They should continue to disguise coverages, forcing Siemian to be himself and taking the underneath stuff. The Bills can then rally and tackle, something that they have done well this season.
Siemian is so decisive and quick to get the ball out of his hands, which means that tackling will be of paramount importance, and that limiting YAC after he distributes will be crucial to stopping the Broncos’ offense.
There will be times in which Siemian will extend drives on 3rd-and-short, but when they get him into those 3rd-and-longs, they have to be opportunistic. They will need pressure and sacks, and they absolutely must force mistakes. Realistically, that will be the Bills’ path to keeping this game close.