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During OTAs and early training camp, if I remember correctly, Paxton Lynch was showing to have taken some nice strides in his development. What exactly might you remember about his improvements in some parts of his game at that time and do you expect the same type of performance this time around?
-- Alejandra Alvarez
His decision-making during the play was quicker, he was more confident in his pre-snap checks and calls and he was willing to make the commitment to move up in the pocket or escape the pocket earlier, rather than delay the decision, which allowed him a better shot to escape the pass rush and make something happen -- whether it was via a scramble or extending the play long enough to find an open receiver.
That plays into what Head Coach Vance Joseph wants to see.
"You don't want Paxton to drop back, go through his progression and kind of just hold the ball and kind of sit there," Joseph said. "He has legs, so take off and run. Don't become a stiff pocket passer when you're not that guy. If you have legs, use them. I'm looking forward to watching him on third downs. If it's not there, just take off and run and see what happens."
As for what to expect -- as with any young player, it's unknown. I'm reminded of a quote from Spock in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" when asked how his crew of academy trainees will handle the rigors of a real mission: "As with all living things: each according to his gifts."
I expect that Lynch will have a game plan that allows him to maximize his gifts. The rest is up to him and the offense as a whole.
Most of that is a result of playing from behind. During their six-game losing streak, the Broncos have trailed for an average of 52 minutes, 53 seconds per game. Also, the Broncos have seen fewer deep passing attempts that require the quarterback to hold the football longer. As a result of this, the Broncos have allowed just 45 pass plays of 15 or more yards, fewer than all but two teams (Cincinnati and Pittsburgh).
While there are ways in which teams can increase their takeaway rate, turnovers can be the most random of positive outcomes for a defense -- particularly fumbles. You can increase your chances by playing from ahead and playing aggressive defense with a lead, but that offers no guarantees. Further, opponents know the damage caused by the Broncos' ability to force turnovers in recent years and have adapted accordingly.
What allowed the special teams to improve last week?**
-- Brian Walker
The change at punt returner helped; Jordan Taylor and Emmanuel Sanders stabilized that responsibility, but that was only part of the process.
"We stepped it up a notch in the classroom as well," Special Teams Coordinator Brock Olivo said. "They understood that we have to be accountable for not only what we do in the classroom, but on the practice field and in games, too."
It wasn't just about avoiding mistakes; Shaquil Barrett had a blocked punt that set the offense up in prime scoring position, although it went for naught after a subsequent interception thrown after the Broncos had advanced to the Cincinnati 4-yard line. That showed the playmaking ability of the special teams, and offers a promising building block if the unit can sustain its progress beyond last Sunday.
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The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.