Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio revisits an area of Paxton Lynch’s game that required work upon entering the league. Has he improved?
The Denver Broncos made a significant investment in Paxton Lynch in 2016 but there’s a good chance that two quarterbacks who didn’t remotely see the first round of the NFL Draft will be ahead of him on the depth chart. The biggest reason for Lynch falling behind the development curve is his dedication to the game.
Broncos analysts Cecil Lammey is among several local media who learned that Lynch spent more of his free time playing XBox than he did doing the extra work at the facility. Lament the unhealthy expectations of a corporate culture all you want — I’ll join you over a beer — however, the quarterback position is like taking a director’s job immediately out of school.
Those who’ve been apprised of the expectations of the role, understand that time off on nights and weekends don’t apply as they’re getting up to speed — especially if that expectation is to lead the team sooner than later. Lynch might have gotten the memo and he may have even read the memo, but he didn’t understand or care about the memo. With Case Keenum on one side and Chad Kelly the other, Lynch is months — if not weeks from getting squeezed out of Denver. If not for the significant investment GM John Elway made, the head coach and offensive coordinator just might prefer to cut Lynch loose and roll with Chad Kelly as Keenum’s understudy.
Lynch’s behavior bleeds over to the field. Teams spend a significant portion of practice time and preparation in the red zone. It’s a vital game within the game and often a different way of approaching football than what happens between the 20s.
Savvy red zone quarterback involves quick decision-making in a compressed area of the field. Hesitation or excessive attempts to buy time increases the potential for mistakes — and these mistakes are often more costly.
Lynch struggled at Memphis on red zone plays because he didn’t grasp the concept that windows are tighter and decision-making time frames are shorter. Lynch would often wind up taking too much time and it created difficult targets. Based on feedback from Lammey and a small sample size of in-game tape, Lynch hasn’t devoted enough time to improve this vital part of game management.
At worst, Lynch should have thrown the ball away. Instead, he goes to great lengths to make a low-odds throw. As I mentioned, this isn’t new. Here’s Lynch at Memphis failing to recognize the quick opportunity and his decision to buy time creates a far more difficult play.
If the Denver media reports a vast improvement in red zone decision-making during practices, it will be a good sign that Lynch is finally working at his craft.