ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Play good defense, run the ball and keep the quarterback from being asked to do too much to win games is a formula that works for some teams, even the Denver Broncos in 2015.
But if you think first-year Broncos coach Vance Joseph is planning to play that way to protect his young quarterback this season, no matter who starts, you can forget that.
"I don't want to manage the game," Joseph said. "I want to score points. I don't want to go into games where the defense has to get a shutout. I want to go into games where we're scoring points and playing good defense. I don't like that manage-the-game stuff with the quarterbacks."
The Broncos should again have one of the better defenses in the league, and either second-year player Paxton Lynch or third-year player Trevor Siemian will be at quarterback, which is why asking the quarterback to play safe would seem to be a logical approach. You would almost expect that from Joseph, who earned his stripes as a defensive coach in the league, but he is polar opposite of that thinking.
"I want to have an explosive offense," Joseph said.
In the two days of work I watched here, the fuse never set off that explosion. On Sunday, it was bad -- really bad. On Monday, it was a little better -- but not much. They did run it well that day.
Right now, I would say Siemian has the edge because he started 14 games last season. But Lynch was a 2016 first-round pick and seems to fit what general manager John Elway wants in a quarterback: somebody like Elway himself.
Lynch is big and strong, can move and has a good arm, but he might be a ways away from being able to harness that talent. Siemian, who was a seventh-round pick out of Northwestern in 2015, is the steadier of the two. The competition is close, and players insist Lynch has made big strides, but again the edge seems to be with Siemian.
Joseph said the decision on his starter would come soon.
"I have to decide pretty soon, but I don't want to rush it either," Joseph said. "It has to happen organically. I am going to let it play out, let guys get comfortable and put their best foot forward. I don't want to rush it where a guy has two or three good days, and the other guys has a so-so couple of days, and then that guy takes off and goes past the guy. I don't want to go up and down with this thing.
"I want to have a full evaluation to have a sound decision. That takes time, but I know I only have a month. I can't say it's a certain day or week when the decision will be made. When it happens, I will know it."
The Broncos could be facing a dilemma with the decision. Siemian is the safer choice right now, but they also have to balance the possibility that Lynch has the higher ceiling and might be the long-term answer under center.
Pedigree can win out in those situations, and Lynch is the one with it.
"Hopefully, one of them stands out when we go forward," Elway said. "You have to try and project who has the highest ceiling. If it doesn't show it itself (a clear winner), those factors all go into the decision."
Lynch has the wow factor. He made a few big-time throws this week, but he also made crippling mistakes on awful decisions, like two red-zone interceptions. Siemian just goes about his job with the line even on his evaluation: a few wow moments and few mistakes, not too many ups and downs.
When I talked with both quarterbacks, I expected one or the other to say the job would be his, or, in Siemian's case, since he's the incumbent, that it was already his job.
But neither said so. They seemed content with playing the competition out with little in terms of what I like to call fire in the belly from either guy. That could be because they're young, but both were nondescript when it came to the battle.
"Me and Trevor are pushing each other and making us both better," Lynch said. "We have some good days and some bad."
"We're both young players pushing each other," Siemian said. "We're both getting better. I take it one day at a time and see where the process goes."
Not exactly two guys who seem confident in their own skills or chances to win the job and carry the offense.
It has been a bit of transition for both as well. With coach Gary Kubiak retiring after the season -- he's now a team scout -- Joseph took over and hired Mike McCoy to run the offense. McCoy was Denver's offensive coordinator from 2009-12 before leaving to coach the San Diego Chargers from 2013-15. He was fired after last season, which is why he's back in Denver.
The offense is different in a lot of ways. The Kubiak Broncos were a zone-scheme run team, but they will be varied in their run game now, although the zone runs will still be a part of the offense.
In the passing game, there will be more shotgun, which is something Lynch is happy about. He played in the gun in college at Memphis, which made adjusting to a center snap a big deal for him last season.
"Being in the gun, I am much more comfortable," Lynch said.
"It's that way for all quarterbacks," Elway said. "It lets them see the defense."
In his 14 starts last season, Siemian threw 18 touchdown passes with 10 interceptions. Lynch started two games when Sieman was hurt, and had two touchdown passes and one interception with a completion percentage of 59.0. Not awful, but not great either.
"I think it's important for a young guy to get out there and get the experience," Lynch said. "That helped me. I got to see how fast the NFL defenses are compared to college. You have to play to really understand that."
Siemian said playing behind Peyton Manning in 2015 helped prepare him for being the starter. That means soaking in all the knowledge of one of the all-time greats, both on the field and off it. Manning was a notorious student of the game, and word is Siemian is much the same as well. Lynch might be behind in the competition now because of that.
"I learned a lot, and I don't have enough time to go into everything I learned," Siemian said. "I learned to be good in a room and see what made him so great and how he achieved everything he did. I saw the process, how he prepared, how he played. That was important for me."
Manning was a shell of himself in 2015 when the Broncos won the Super Bowl. He basically managed the games in the postseason that year as the defense took over. But that magic doesn't happen all the time, and the margin for error is slim. Even that season, if the Broncos don't rally to beat the Bengals in overtime late in the season they miss out on the playoffs.
That's why Joseph wants no part of the manage-the-game talk with his quarterbacks, something Elway understands better than most because he was much more than that.
"The last two years we've played to the defense and tried not to make mistakes,. Elway said. "We just weren't able to make the plays on offense. We need to balance it out some with our defense."
The lack of offensive production might have caused a divide on some teams, but that didn't seem to be the case last year. This past Sunday, when the defense dominated the offense and the No-Fly Zone secondary seemed to be picking off passes on every other play, it would have been easy for the defensive players to get even more concerned. But the defensive players I talked with had none of it, simply basking in their own talent and success.
"It's hard to go against us," corner Chris Harris said.
All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller is confident one of the two passers will emerge this season as a legitimate passing threat.
"One of them is going to pop out," he said. "They just need to be more consistent. We've seen it happen with young quarterbacks like Dak Prescott. They just get it and it works. That's going to happen here. We just have to support them, no matter who wins the job. We can't manage the game with all the weapons we have. We have to feed those guys the rock."
The big question is: Can that rock get to them consistently enough with these two quarterbacks?