ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When asked Tuesday about Paxton Lynch's performance, Head Coach Vance Joseph stamped out any chance of a click-baity headline emerging.
"I've been proud of Paxton," Joseph said. "Paxton's worked hard. He's not relaxing. He's not relaxing. You guys know he's not relaxing."
The Broncos' head coach then gave the assembled media a knowing look.
Joseph, of course, was alluding to a comment he made on May 12 that Case Keenum's status as the Broncos' starter could help Lynch "relax and get better" as a quarterback.
Out of context, the quote garnered undue attention, and Joseph seemed amused Tuesday by the entire situation.
After he had some fun with the local media, though, he turned more seriously toward Lynch's development.
"He's competing," Joseph said. "He wants to be a great player. He's a young player that's getting better and better every single day."
Joseph has seen this developmental process before. While he was in San Francisco, the 49ers were led by former first-overall pick Alex Smith, who took some early lumps before developing into one of the NFL's top signal callers.
In his first three years, Smith threw just 18 total touchdowns to 31 interceptions — but he later led the Niners to a 13-3 record in 2011, and he guided Kansas City to division titles in 2016 and 2017.
"I was with Alex Smith in his third year, and it wasn't pretty," Joseph said. "But now you'd take Alex, right? So [Lynch] just needs time to work on his craft. He's obviously a rare talent — 6-[foot]-5, a big arm. He's a rare talent. He needs time to play. Once he plays, he'll be fine."
The Broncos won't rush Lynch to take the same sort of step as Smith, but the third-year player has shown promise even since the end of the 2017 season.
"He took a leap last year from training camp to Week 17 against the Chiefs," Joseph said. "That game, I was impressed with how he played. And from that game till now, he's taken huge strides."
Adding some stability to the mix should only accelerate that process.
"Obviously he's had three coordinators in three seasons. That's tough on a quarterback," Joseph said. "Again, a guy like Alex Smith [had] the same situation. So having Billy [Musgrave] now for a year and a half is going to help him be a better quarterback. Having the same system, same audible, same concepts, that's huge for a young quarterback.
"I've been really impressed with how he's worked and competed."