Paxton Lynch

Extra Points: Titans, Mariota, Jets, Broncos

The Titans may landed the second-overall pick in the 2015 draft, but it sounds like the organization still drafted their desired prospect. Blake Beddingfield, the team’s former director of scouting, told Paul Kuharsky that preferring quarterback Marcus Mariota over top-overall pick Jameis Winston was “an easy choice at that time” (Twitter link). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com echoes that sentiment (via Twitter), saying the team’s infatuation with Mariota was why they refused to trade the pick.

Following a breakout campaign in 2016, Mariota took a bit of a step back in 2017. The 24-year-old ended up completing 62-percent of his passes for 3,232 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Winston had the edge in numbers (63.8 completion percentage, 3,504 yards, 19 touchdowns, 11 interceptions), but his off-the-field conduct would seemingly give Mariota the edge when it comes to the duo’s long-term outlooks.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • If the Jets hope to compete for a playoff spot next season, the team will need rookie quarterback Sam Darnold to step up and contribute right away, writes ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini. While head coach Todd Bowles favors experience, Darnold’s skills would surely boost the team’s ceiling. Cimini also points to wideout Robby Anderson, center Spencer Long, cornerback Trumaine Johnson, and defensive end Leonard Williams among those who will need to have standout seasons for a playoff-bound Jets squad.
  • Paxton Lynch has two more years left on his contract, and Mike Klis of 9News.com writes that the quarterback’s longterm outlook with the Broncos will depend on his performance next season. While the team is unlikely to pick up Lynch’s fifth-year option, Klis believes the team won’t end up dealing the former first-rounder. After all, Lynch would presumably have little trade value if he sits on the bench behind Case Keenum, and he’d likely be too valuable for the Broncos is he makes his way into the starting lineup.
  • Matt Miller of Bleacher Report hears that former Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal could end up being selected in the second or third round of the supplemental draft, with several AFC teams expressing interest (Twitter link). We heard earlier today that the highly-touted prospect was expected to be one of the two players selected (along with Virginia Tech cornerback Adonis Alexander) in the upcoming draft.

Broncos Notes: Ware, Ray, Lynch

DeMarcus Ware will return to Denver and work with some of his former teammates. After months of trying, the Broncos hired the future Hall of Famer as a part-time coach, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Ware will work with the Broncos around 40 or 50 days this year, Mike Klis of 9News reports (Twitter link). Klis adds that Ware will work with the defensive assistants, some of whom were around during his final Broncos seasons. Ware received interest from the Cowboys for a similar consulting-type role but opted for the Denver job.

I wish I could help out both teams, but with the league, you can’t do that,” Ware said, via Klis (on Twitter). “You’ve just got to choose your battles and this right here was my choice.”

Jhabvala notes Ware will work with Broncos outside linebackers and defensive ends, with Bradley Chubb likely his chief assignment, and will be at various practices and spend time in meetings with coaches.

It’s great for Von (Miller),” Vance Joseph said, via Jhabvala. “D-Ware is the guy that Von followed. He became a great player under D-Ware’s watch, along with the coaches also obviously. But it’s great to have him here for all of our guys — for (Derek) Wolfe, for (Domata) Peko, for Von, for all of those guys. Rushing the passer in this league is a premium. You have to rush the passer, and our scheme is built around rushing the passer.”

Here’s the latest out of Denver, moving to one of Ware’s charges.

  • Shane Ray‘s wrist surgery will involve bone fusion, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post tweets. Ray said Wednesday he’s still hoping to be on the field for Week 1. The former first-round pick began last season on IR because of a wrist injury, and after extensive medical counsel, he will undergo another wrist procedure. Ray was available during the Broncos’ 2017 offseason before suffering an injury during training camp. But he wasn’t the same upon return, failing to live up to his 2016 standards. The Broncos are better equipped to handle a Ray absence this year, with Chubb in the fold alongside Shaquil Barrett.
  • Ray’s surgery might open the door for UDFA Jeff Holland. The Auburn product left school early only to go undrafted, but DC Joe Woods lavished high praise upon the rookie Wednesday. “We record all of the positive that guys make, and right now he’s blowing people away,” Woods said, via O’Halloran (Twitter link). Holland could be in line to make the Broncos as a backup outside linebacker. During their return to a 3-4 look, the Broncos have usually kept four outside linebackers — peaking with a Miller/Ware/Barrett/Ray setup in 2015-16. But with Ray sidelined, it’s possible Holland could forge a path to the 53-man roster — possibly as a fifth outside ‘backer due to the unique circumstances Denver’s dealing with at this spot.
  • Paxton Lynch has looked like a more dedicated player this offseason, Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press writes. However, the third-year quarterback has yet to consistently wow observers on the practice field. Joseph attempted to shed additional light on why the franchise stuck with Lynch rather than using a draft pick on competition. “I think Paxton is really motivated to show everyone that he can be a No. 1 quarterback in this league, and watching him work this entire offseason he is different because I’ve seen him a lot more up in the halls here,” Joseph said, adding the Broncos having three offensive coordinators in three years has stunted the young passer’s progress. “And that takes time to find your comfort zone with coaches, with your organization.”

AFC Notes: Hogan, Patriots, Broncos, Lynch, Texans

Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan was on his way to a career year in 2017 before a shoulder injury derailed his season. In a recent article, Jeff Howe of The Athletic breaks down why the Patriots will be leaning on Hogan more than ever in 2018, and how it could lead to a “big payday” for the impending free agent.

Howe points out that although Hogan missed essentially the entire second half of last regular season and was quiet in the Patriots’ first two playoff games, he exploded for 128 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, showing he can still be a dynamic playmaker for the team. Howe notes that with Brandin Cooks traded to the Rams, Danny Amendola gone to the Dolphins, and Julian Edelman suspended for the first four games of the season, the Patriots will be counting on Hogan more than ever.

Howe also points out that the extra opportunity comes at a great time for Hogan, who is headed into the final year of his three-year $12MM deal. Howe thinks Hogan could earn himself “a life-altering contract in free agency” and says that “barring injury, Hogan’s floor shouldn’t be a dime less than $6.5 million per season.”

Here’s more from around the AFC:

West Notes: Lynch, Johnson, Seahawks

With both Josh Allen and Josh Rosen still on the board when the Broncos picked at No. 5, Denver bypassed the draft’s top-tier quarterback contingent and instead took a player in Bradley Chubb John Elway wanted enough to nullify a trade with the Bills. Paxton Lynch likely factored into that decision. The No. 26 overall pick in 2016, Lynch has struggled with performance and injuries in his two-year career. And after he lost a one-sided competition to Trevor Siemian last year, Lynch is no longer competing for the starting job. But Elway is not ready to throw in the towel on the former Memphis standout. Picking another quarterback would have essentially doomed Lynch’s Denver tenure. The Broncos are not going to bring in another QB for OTAs, and while Elway didn’t rule out a possible addition later in the offseason, Denver’s QB room could well be Case Keenum, Chad Kelly and Lynch by the time camp commences.

We are not kicking him to the curb. He can still develop,” Elway said, via Mike Klis of 9News. “When we drafted him two years ago, as I said, we knew it was going to take some time. We are not going to bring another one in for OTAs. We will take a peek at that. It will be those two and Case. We are going to OTAs with those guys and go from there.”

The Broncos are clearly betting big on Keenum’s 2017 being a legitimate turning point and not an aberration, and the respective showings of Allen and Rosen may be tied, to some degree, to the Broncos’ decision to go with Keenum instead. And the Broncos now have a season to further evaluate Lynch before his fifth-year option decision — regarding a steep 2019 salary that will likely be north of $15MM — comes next May.

Here’s the latest from some other Western-division headquarters.

  • The Seahawks are going to experiment with two rookies at different positions. Fifth-round pick Tre Flowers will shift from safety to cornerback, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. The 6-foot-3 Oklahoma State product fits the profile of a player the Seahawks would prefer at corner, although he played mostly safety at the Big 12 program. Seattle made a similar move last May in shuttling Mike Tyson from safety to corner. Additionally, the team will try fifth-round offensive lineman Jamarco Jones at both tackle and guard, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. Jones started the past two seasons as Ohio State’s left tackle. Condotta adds the Hawks have Ethan Pocic and newcomer D.J. Fluker tentatively tabbed as starters at left and right guard, respectively.
  • Speaking of positional preferences, the Raiders may view Derrick Johnson as a middle linebacker, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. While this would make sense because of Johnson’s extensive experience as a Chiefs inside linebacker, the last time he played in a 4-3 scheme he served as an outside ‘backer. Prior to the Chiefs moving to a 3-4 look in 2009, Johnson spent most of his time on the outside. He started for four seasons in that role. Bair adds that it appears Tahir Whitehead is slated to play on the outside, noting that Marquel Lee and Nicholas Morrow may be competing for the middle ‘backer job. Whitehead has experience at both middle and outside linebacker in a 4-3 setup.
  • Seattle may look to add wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow, per Condotta. Despite being a 2017 UDFA, Stringfellow came to the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp and fared well. Pete Carroll indicated Stringfellow’s 6-foot-2, 218-pound frame is something the team is intrigued by. The Seahawks would have to waive a player from their 90-man offseason roster to make room for the former Ole Miss Rebel and Washington Husky.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders

Despite visiting with each of this draft’s top four quarterbacks and being consistently rumored to have a couple of them on their radar, the Broncos did not select one throughout the draft. And they aren’t planning on bringing another one in before training camp. John Elway said Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly will compete for the backup job behind Case Keenum, per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. This is an interesting approach considering both players are coming off injury-marred years. Lynch will be the only active-roster Broncos QB returning since the team let Brock Osweiler depart in free agency and traded Trevor Siemian. Denver is evidently set at the game’s marquee position, putting faith in Keenum.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West:

  • The Raiders had a busy weekend, making multiple trades for veteran players and taking multiple high-ceiling, low-floor defenders. But they did not invest big in off-ball linebackers, and Reggie McKenzie said (via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com) a NaVorro Bowman acquisition remains on the table. This has been the GM’s party line for a bit now, but it’s notable that stance remains after the Raiders brought in Tahir Whitehead to start and multiple other veteran backups. Bowman started for the Raiders most of last season and was by far their top-graded linebacker, in the opinion of Pro Football Focus.
  • In selecting a player with possible first-round talent in the fifth, the Raiders may have a steal in Maurice Hurst Jr. But the Michigan-developed defensive tackle will be subject to annual heart evaluations after the issue that caused his stock to slip. However, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes (via Twitter) the Raiders do not view this as a flier or year-to-year proposition. Hurst was cleared going into the draft after being flagged for a heart problem at the Combine, but it’s clear all 32 teams were not in agreement on Hurst being a safe bet.
  • Each of the Chiefs‘ six draft picks went to addressing their defense, which ranked 30th in DVOA last season. But Louis Riddick of ESPN reported during the draft sixth-round pick Kahlil McKenzie — Reggie’s son — will begin his career at guard despite playing defensive tackle at Tennessee. The Chiefs lost Bennie Logan this offseason but drafted Derrick Nnadi out of Florida State to potentially move into that role. Kahlil McKenzie, then, will attempt to carve out a spot on the offensive line.

Broncos Plan To Start Paxton Lynch On Sunday

The Broncos have suffered through another down season in 2017. However, the team will get one final look at second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch in their final regular season game, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link).

Paxton Lynch (Vertical)

Head coach Vance Joseph confirmed to reporters on Tuesday that he plans to start Lynch this weekend. Klis passes along, that Joseph thinks Lynch’s injured ankle will be healed enough for him receive a fair evaluation on the field.

The 2016 first round pick has started just one game this season, which came in a loss to the Raiders in Week 12. Lynch injured his ankle in that contest, but didn’t look good when he was healthy, completing 9 of 14 passes for just 41 yards, along with with no touchdowns and one interception.

The 23-year-old has been a major disappointment to a Broncos organization that wanted him to be the successor to Peyton Manning coming off their Super Bowl victory almost two years ago. That plan has clearly not come to fruition as Lynch has only appeared in four games since that time because of injuries and poor play.

Nevertheless, with neither Trevor Siemian or Brock Osweiler separating themselves this year, the Broncos would like one last look at their young quarterback before the they embark on the offseason. While Lynch is still on his rookie contract for 2018, I would still expect Broncos executive John Elway to be on the hunt for a starting caliber QB in the coming months.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Paxton Lynch Suffers High Ankle Sprain

The Broncos’ late-season audition plan for Paxton Lynch hit a snag in the first of those starts, and the injury that caused Lynch to leave the Raiders game Sunday will force the team to start another quarterback against the Dolphins.

Lynch suffered a high ankle sprain, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter). He will not play against the Dolphins, Klis reports. Trevor Siemian will start in Miami.

Vance Joseph announced Lynch suffered this injury (per James Palmer of NFL.com, on Twitter) and said he will miss between two and four weeks, so this stalls a crucial evaluation for the second-year passer. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (on Twitter) this figures to be a minimum three-game absence for Lynch.

By Week 13, the Broncos will have started three different quarterbacks in three games. They appear set to revert to their original lineup, with Brock Osweiler backing up Siemian. But this stalls a Lynch evaluation process that’s already overdue, considering the franchise invested a first-round pick in him last year.

Lynch has started just three games, and this meaningless stretch for the 2017 team could have doubled as a test run for the Broncos to determine if they can put faith in Lynch next season or if they need to re-enter the quarterback market. This injury further muddies that prospective decision.

As he has at just about every juncture of their overlapping tenures as Broncos, Siemian fared better than Lynch on Sunday, leading the team to two touchdowns in the second half. Lynch finished 9 of 14 for 41 yards (2.9 per attempt) and left the game with the Broncos down 21-0 in Oakland.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Lynch, Staley, Buchanon

The Broncos turned to another quarterback, but got the same results in today’s loss to Oakland. Second-year signal caller Paxton Lynch was the latest passer to rack up a defeat during the team’s seven game losing streak. However, the loss was not the only thing the former first round pick suffered on Sunday.

Lynch was forced to exit the game in the third quarter after an apparent right ankle injury, reports Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post. The quarterback was seen very emotion on the sideline when he learned that his day would be done. It’s a crushing development for Lynch, who’d been waiting for his chance to get on the field as he’d been recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in the preseason.

Trevor Siemian was good in relief, but with the team at 3-8 and clearly out of the playoff hunt, I’m sure head coach Vance Joseph wanted to see what he had in his young gunslinger. It remains to be seen just how serious the injury actually is, though it appears to be distinct possibility that the team will have to switch starters again in Week 13.

  • The 49ers have dealt with a variety of injuries this year, but seemed to avoid another to one of the team’s best players. Left tackle Joe Staley left the game for just one play after an apparent leg injury, but was able to return without much issue. The veteran lineman clarified after the game that he simply hyperextended his knee and is fine, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians confirmed that linebacker Deone Bucannon has injured right leg, says Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. While the news is concerning on its own, there is added negativity because it’s the same leg that Bucannon had surgery on during offseason, which forced him to miss the first three games of the year. It’s not known just how long it’s expected to keep the 25-year-old out, but the team does have three reserves in Josh Bynes, Scooby Wright and Bryson Albright to take those snaps should the injury force Bucannon to miss time.
  • The Seahawks came out of their win over the 49ers with few injuries of their own. Head coach Pete Carroll said that defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was “Ok” after leaving in the fourth quarter, reports Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. However, Henderson also passes along that second-string tight end Luke Willson suffered a bit more serious of an injury after he was removed in the second quarter with a concussion. Carroll did mention to reporters that the tight end has a chance to play in next week’s game, but he obviously must pass concussion protocol first. In the meantime, both Jimmy Graham and third-stringer Nick Vannett were able to find the end zone without Willson in the lineup.

AFC West Notes: A. Smith, Broncos, M. Williams

After jumping out to a 5-0 start this year, the Chiefs have lost four of their last five games, making themselves vulnerable to the surging Chargers and even the Raiders in the AFC West. The team’s offensive struggles have contributed to that swoon, and quarterback Alex Smith has fallen off a bit after a torrid first half. He is coming off a miserable performance in Kansas City’s loss to the lowly Giants last week, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Chiefs would only turn to rookie first-rounder Patrick Mahomes if Smith were to get hurt. Smith will remain under center the rest of the year, though Kansas City still plans to shop him in the offseason as it prepares to usher in the Mahomes era.

Now for more notes from the AFC West:

  • New Chiefs CB Darrelle Revis will likely make his Kansas City debut next week, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Paxton Lynch is back under center for the Broncos, and Rapoport (video link) says they want him to start the rest of the year so they can fairly evaluate what they have in last year’s first-rounder. The team will run a much simpler offensive scheme for Lynch than what it employed under former OC Mike McCoy, and Lynch has been encouraged to simply do what he does best, which is run around and improvise.
  • We learned earlier today that the Raiders are likely to fire OC Todd Downing at season’s end, and that McCoy is an obvious candidate to replace him. Within that story, we cited another La Canfora article in which the CBS scribe reported that the McCoy firing might have been just the tip of the iceberg for the Broncos. He suggests that there is speculation that head coach Vance Joseph could be out after just one year on the job, and at the very least, that Denver could shake up other parts of its coaching staff.
  • Broncos GM John Elway has taken a lot of heat for his club’s 3-7 record in 2017, but Mike Klis of 9News.com says that criticism is largely unwarranted. In an interesting piece that pits Elway’s draft results against those of his long-tenured colleagues, Elway comes out near the top of the heap of NFL general managers, which makes Klis believe he will be able to turn the ship around in 2018.
  • We learned Friday that Chargers rookie wideout Mike Williams avoided an ACL tear during his team’s Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys, and Rapoport tweets that Williams has been diagnosed with a bone bruise. While Williams is expected to miss next week’s contest against the Browns, he will be week-to-week thereafter, which is a big deal for a team that has forced its way back into the playoff hunt.

Broncos To Start Paxton Lynch At QB

First, the Broncos made a change at offensive coordinator. Now, they’re making a big change under center. In Week 12, the Broncos will start Paxton Lynch at quarterback. Tuesday was an off day in Denver, so head coach Vance Joseph waited until Wednesday morning to deliver the news to the rest of his staff and the players. Paxton Lynch (vertical)

[RELATED: Broncos Fire OC Mike McCoy, Promote Bill Musgrave]

In some ways, this has been a long time coming for the 2016 first-round pick. In another sense, this was a quick ascension up the ladder. Last week, Paxton suited up for the very first time in 2017 as Brock Osweiler‘s backup with Trevor Siemian marked as a healthy scratch for the first time since Peyton Manning retired. This Sunday, Lynch will start, Siemian will serve as the QB2, and Osweiler will be left off of the active roster.

Last season, Lynch was on the field for three games and two starts. In that short sample, he completed 49 of 83 passes with two touchdowns against one interception. The Broncos have had some concerns about Lynch’s NFL readiness, but there’s no time like the present given their 3-7 record.

Last week, when discussing the possibility of starting Lynch, Joseph indicated that he would tailor the offensive game plan to the rookie’s strengths.

That’s on the coaches and myself if he does play for us to make have a system that fits Paxton,” Joseph said Monday. “He’s practiced the last two weeks. Again guys, it won’t be soccer. It’s football for him. What he’s practiced the last couple weeks may be called a little different. It may be called more of the same stuff, but it’s just football, so he’ll be fine.”

Lynch’s first start of the season will come on Sunday against the Raiders.

The news was first reported by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.