ENGLEWOOD – Trevor Siemian is finally starting to get some love around the NFL.
Through two weeks, the Denver Broncos’ third-year pro is tied for the league lead with six TD passes and the Broncos (2-0) are tops in the NFL with a 57 percent third-down conversion rate.
Siemian spent his rookie year learning from Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, an apprenticeship he parlayed into the starting job by beating out the franchise’s supposed future QB, Paxton Lynch, in back-to-back summers.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is among the believers in the former part-time starter at Northwestern who thought long and hard about getting his real estate license when his college career ended on crutches.
Jones was aware of the Broncos’ brilliant defense but was admittedly surprised to see Siemian carve up his Cowboys with four TD passes in a 42-17 shellacking in Denver last weekend.
“We were a little taken aback by how well they did offensively,” Jones said. “Their quarterback played outstanding.”
Siemian has now started 16 games, the equivalent of a full season, and he’s gone 10-6 while throwing for 3,851 yards with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions — the kind of numbers that would be impressive for a first-round pick, let alone a seventh.
“Definitely room for a lot of improvement, you know, all over the place, I can tell you,” Siemian said Wednesday. “But it’s just playing you get more comfortable certainly, just feel for the game, things happen a little slower for you. So, it’s like anybody else, the more you play the more comfortable you get and usually the better off you are.”
Siemian is the only Broncos QB with two dozen TD throws in his first 16 career NFL starts (his boss, John Elway, had 11).
So, isn’t it high time that Siemian gets some respect, wondered Phil Simms, a Super Bowl winner and longtime CBS commentator.
“I love the way he plays. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. He hangs in there, takes big hits, he throws the ball on time, he throws it with anticipation and he throws a perfect spiral almost every single throw,” Simms said “I wish everybody would get over the fact that he is their quarterback. And, ‘Oh he wasn’t a high draft pick,’ or ‘He’s not a franchise guy.’ Well, you know what? I think he really is.”
Sean McDermott, whose Bills (1-1) host the Broncos this weekend, was one of Siemian’s earliest converts.
“I had the chance to go against Trevor a year ago when I was with the Panthers, the opening game of the year . I was impressed with him then. I continue to be impressed,” McDermott said. “He’s smart. He does a lot in between plays in terms of at the line of scrimmage. He knows where to go with the football based on coverage looks. He gets in and out of plays at the line. He’s efficient.”
Sort of like another Broncos QB hailed as much for his above-the-shoulders acumen as anything he could do physically.
Siemian acknowledged he didn’t think he’d get drafted when the Broncos chose him with the 250th overall pick in 2015 while he was recovering from knee surgery. But he forced his way onto a Super Bowl-bound roster as a rookie and spent his last two summers dispatching much-hyped first-round QBs Lynch and Mark Sanchez.
Siemian might be the biggest bargain in the league, too.
While his backup, Osweiler, is making $16 million, and Lynch is getting $880,000, Siemian is pulling in $615,000 this season.
His $36,176 weekly paycheck is slightly more than the $30,000 that running back Jonathan Williams is pulling in every week on Denver’s practice squad.
Big paychecks are almost certainly in his future, but Siemian is singularly focused on today .
“Trevor works, man. He’s not really looking for the numbers or if he stands next to Matt Ryan or this person or that person,” running back C.J. Anderson said. “Trevor’s just a grinder. I think his goal is like all our goals: be the best you can be on Sunday, correct it on Monday and then move on.”
Siemian spent much of his offseason in the film room to understand defenses better and in the weight room to get better at escaping the rush, both of which are paying off.
He already has 33 yards and his first career touchdown on 11 runs after averaging just two runs and 2.0 yards per game last year.
Anderson said the proof in Siemian’s progress is in his pre-snap adjustments.
“Yeah, I think third-and-6 run check was just, you know, something that 18 would have done,” Anderson said of Siemian’s Manning-like decision Sunday that resulted in a 9-yard run and ignited a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that salted away the Cowboys.
“He’s definitely understanding the game more,” Anderson said.