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As we’ve done for every preseason game, we’re analyzing the play of the quarterbacks from this week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. In a unique final preseason game, rookie Paxton Lynch played the entire game.
Here’s the scouting report.
- Lynch made some major improvements Saturday night. Particularly in important areas of development for him; his footwork on his drops, his ability to work from under center, as well as his feet from within the pocket. Lynch rarely scrambled in this game to throw, he obviously had times where he had to run from pressure, but he made a real effort to operate from the pocket. Though he was far from perfect, his poise and progress in his lower body mechanics were impressive.
- Two throws stood out from Lynch in the first half:
- First is the touchdown to Jordan Taylor, granted the receiver does most of the work, but Lynch stands tough in the pocket, delivers over pressure and puts a nice accurate pass on the outside for Taylor to turn and run with.
- On the second pass, he’s just showing off his natural arms strength. He’s throwing off balance with pressure coming, and he just gasses a pass to the sideline to Mose Frazier, the pass is a bit high, but the arm strength and natural zip are simply mouth watering.
- With spurts here and there, Lynch was largely inconsistent for the majority of the game. He did, however, have a tremendous drive towards the end of the third quarter that showed the special tools he possesses.
- He started things off by threading the needle over the middle, an incredibly hard throw to make. He gasses his pass over the linebacker and hits his target perfectly. Even more impressive, Lynch keeps his eyes downfield the whole time and stays composed as the pocket is collapsing.
- Throughout the drive, he showed superb zip and accuracy, while also looking in total command from within the pocket and operating from under center.
- The big throw of the drive is a pass deep down the sideline to Jordan Taylor. Paxton pump fakes, backs off from pressure, then off balance, makes a 30-yard pass down the sideline to Taylor’s back-shoulder. The release is incredibly quick and he gets such power on the pass despite throwing off an uneven base.
- As Lynch was under pressure, close to half of his snaps he often threw off-balance. This led to him making some rushed throws, not so much his reads, but having to actually rush his delivery to avoid a sack. Because of this, you saw some inconsistent accuracy and ball placement from the Broncos young rookie.
- Lynch undoubtedly missed some throws that he should have made in this game. He sailed a few passes over his receivers heads and he was inaccurate at times. Even without pressure, this was an issue. One particular throw that could have been a touchdown early on stood out; as Lynch just delivered the pass a beat too soon to Jordan Taylor towards the end zone and tried to put touch on it to lead his target, instead of going to his back shoulder. There’s still little nuances he needs to work out and his functional accuracy needs to get better when standing in the pocket.
- While the Broncos first-round pick’s footwork has improved significantly, he still throws off his back foot when he has room to step up. He has to learn to throw with proper footwork and balance, instead of simply trusting his arms strength if he’s going to be great. The rookie’s mechanics have improved significantly, but he needs to change his mindset.
- Lynch did have a disappointing interception on his second to last drive. The game was already lost at that point and he’s clearly trying to take some shots, which is absolutely fine. This particular throw wasn’t worth the risk, though. He rushed the pass over the middle in tons of traffic, leading to an easy pick-six. Ball placement and reading coverage over the middle of the field was an area Paxton seemed to have issues with this game. If he’s going to throw a pick, you’d much rather it be on a deep shot and not a short pass down the middle. Reading underneath coverage, learning when not to try to squeeze passes, is all part of the process.
What we learned
Paxton didn’t have his best game in the last outing against the Los Angeles Rams, so it was nice to see him put together an impressive drive and show some more high-level flashes. More importantly, the Broncos promising QB showed some significant growth in his ability to operate inside the pocket.
The rest of the game was similar to what we’ve seen out of him thus far, Lynch both had flashes of greatness and some errant throws. He’s slowly getting closer to being the quarterback the franchise wants him to be. Greater consistency will be key for his development, as will increased experience.