JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —** It may have been a tough day for Paxton Lynch, but he knew exactly what he liked most Sunday's game: getting his first win as a starter.
Lynch hadn't been so fortunate in his first start, a tough loss to the Falcons at home. In his second, with Trevor Siemian recovering from a foot injury, Lynch avoided costly turnovers and got the win against a Jacksonville defense that has been improving week by week.
"Well, he got his first win. That's what I feel best about," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "I thought he did some good things in the first half, had us in position there for a field goal right before the half, did a good job with the two-minute, didn't turn the ball over, which we knew would be huge coming in here. I'm not sure we helped him very much in the second half. We as coaches have to do a better job. I have to do a better job for him. But we came in here and did what we needed to do to win. Step forward, keep going and we all got to get better, but we hung on."
Lynch, as well as the entire offense, struggled against a developing Jacksonville defense that boasts young talent at ever level. But though he struggled, he avoided turning the ball over.
"We came into the game knowing we had a shot just not turning the ball over when you have a defense as good as you've got on the other side of the ball," Lynch said. "You've always got a chance to stay in the game as long as you don't hurt yourself, and that's what we did. And obviously it wasn't pretty, but we still came out with a win."
Lynched tried to balance the risk and reward of taking shots deep downfield on play-action passes, and though they fell incomplete, he recognized that trying to avoid interceptions can't be the central focus.
The Broncos grabbed a 20-10 win over the Jaguars behind a solid defensive performance.(Photos by Eric Bakke, unless noted)
"You can't be in the game just tip-toeing around and not wanting to make mistakes, because it's football and you're going to make mistakes," Lynch said. "So you've just got to keep playing, but we just knew that if we didn't turn the ball over, we had a really good shot at winning and you want to get those guys the ball because they're big targets. They're big players for us but sometimes the game goes this way and you still get the win and everybody's still happy about it."
Ugly wins are still wins regardless, but Lynch recognizes that he has plenty to improve upon from Sunday's performance, particularly on third downs, where the Broncos converted just one of 13 tries.
"I just think, obviously we had a lot of three-and-outs," he said. "I think in the second half we only had a couple first downs, and that's not good to do to your defense, because they're playing their tail off and they're playing well, too. So to keep them on the field and keep them tired by not getting first downs, I think that's a big thing that we need to do moving forward, is getting first downs and play better on our side of the ball."
But for all his struggles, Lynch was happy enough with the ultimate result, and especially that he could get his first win just two hours from his hometown of Deltona, Florida. "It was exciting to come back in front of my family and a couple of my friends, too," he said. "Them getting the chance to watch me get a start in the NFL, because I played with most of them growing up, it was a special moment for me to go out there and get my first win, too."