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The Broncos were taught a valuable lesson by Paxton Lynch

(Photo by Alika Jenner / Getty Images)

What will the spin be today?

It was against the Broncos third- and fourth-string defense. He was only making one read or running with the football. It’s preseason and Denver didn’t really care about the outcome.

Pick one. Add one. There will be plenty more to choose from, as Broncos Country tries to explain away what happened on Thursday night in Seattle.

That’s because Paxton Lynch, the former quarterback of the future in the Mile High City and the most-maligned player in recent franchise history, absolutely torched Denver in the second half of last night’s preseason game to lead the Seahawks to a 22-14 victory in Seattle.

His final stat line was pretty stellar: 11 for 15, for 109 yards and a touchdown, plus a nine-yard run for another score, adding up to a 115.7 quarterback rating.

How could this be? How on earth did a guy who almost everyone thought couldn’t play a lick look so good against his former team?

Perhaps all of the experts who analyzed Lynch’s play the past two seasons in Denver were wrong. Maybe they were too busy crafting their next wisecrack about video games to actually watch what was happening on the field.

They missed in their evaluation. And they missed badly.

Why? Because of their reticular activating system.

That’s the part of people’s brains that filters all of the possible stimuli bombarding their senses; it prevents their mind from getting overloaded and allowing them to make decisions. It’s a vital system, but it also has a fatal flaw – it causes people to see what they expect to see.

Here’s a test: There are a lot of Jeeps on the roads in Denver. Now, see how many Jeeps you notice on your drive home tonight.

Broncos Country did the same thing when evaluating Lynch. Early in the quarterback’s career, they got it in their heads that he couldn’t play. So when they watched him in practice and games, they mostly noticed the plays that supported that belief.

There certainly was no shortage of evidence for them to use, as Lynch wasn’t particularly good during his tenure in Denver. But the way people harped on the bad, while completely ignoring the good moments, was grossly unfair.

This is part of why Lynch made comments last week about how much better things are for him in Seattle.

“It feels closer; it feels like a family,” the quarterback told the media. “They treat the players good so, it feels good; it feels like you’re a part of the family. It feels like everybody’s close.”

Instead of hearing those comments and wondering if Lynch had a point, the media and fans used them as another reason to mock the former Bronco. Once again, they let their bias dictate how they looked at a situation.

That’s what made last night’s performance by Lynch so important. Maybe, just maybe, it will open people’s eyes.

Lynch playing well against Denver brings into question the Broncos ability to develop quarterbacks. Perhaps the way Pete Carroll does things, with a more positive approach that focuses on a player’s strengths instead of his weaknesses, would be something that John Elway and Company should consider adopting.

After all, Lynch isn’t the first draft pick to flame out in Denver. Nor is he the only young quarterback to come and go through the Mile High City in recent years. So it would behoove the Broncos to make sure they don’t keep making the same mistakes.

With Lynch, the coaches never really put him in a position to succeed. Coming out of Memphis, the Broncos knew that the young quarterback had only run a limited number of plays and mostly operated out of the shotgun. So what did they do? They put him under center and inundated him with a hefty playbook.

And when it overwhelmed Lynch, information leaked about the kid’s work ethic, lack of football acumen and other off-the-field issues. That’s what led to all of the snide comments that were repeated so often that they eventually became the prevailing opinion in town.

Eventually, this chipped away at Lynch’s confidence, undermined him in the locker room and made it impossible for him to succeed in Denver. The Broncos couldn’t get Pandora back into the box, so they had to part ways with their one-time quarterback of the future.

Here’s hoping they’ve learned their lesson. Otherwise, they’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes with Drew Lock.

So far in training camp, there have been signs that the Broncos are going to botch things with another young quarterback. They’re doing many of the same things with Lock that they did with Lynch.

Despite how Lock looks in practice and games, he remains behind Kevin Hogan on the depth chart. The explanation is that Denver needs a “veteran” behind Joe Flacco, even though Hogan’s playing experience is limited at best (one start and four total appearances).

Vic Fangio has been quick to criticize when Lock struggles, such as after last week’s Hall of Fame Game. But he hasn’t been willing to praise the quarterback when he plays well, like after a stellar performance during the team’s practice at Broncos Stadium.

None of this means that Lock is going to wilt under the pressure like Lynch did; perhaps he’s wired differently and can handle this type of “tough love” better. But it all seems so unnecessary. It’s an old-school approach with new-school kids, which has the makings of a disaster.

Why not take a page from Carroll’s book in Seattle? Try a little positivity. Maybe allow a player to do the things he does well in order to build up some confidence.

On Thursday night, that approach certainly looked like the more effective one. It’s why Paxton Lynch torched his former team.

The Broncos can use it as a lesson or come up with all kinds of ways to excuse what happened. They’d be wise to do the former. Otherwise, history is bound to repeat itself in Denver.


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