If you asked me a few months ago if I would be pondering what Siemian could do for the Jets offense in Week 2, I probably would have laughed at you and cried in private. Yet, here we are. In the most LOL-Jets turn of events, Sam Darnold, our golden boy, got mono and is out indefinitely.
Strange feeling. In many years past, Jets fans would be looking ahead to whatever young, late-round prospect we had wasting away on the bench, finally getting a start over whatever grizzled journeyman we were trotting out. Now, it’s our young bull on the outs. Thankfully, and I say this with caution, Siemian is at least young and comes with a winning record as a starting QB. He hasn’t started since 2017, but was once a hot story in the NFL. Siemian went from relative unknown, longshot to a 4-2 starter getting ready to play his first Monday Night Football game. Now, with a Monday Night battle with the Browns, we can take a look at what to expect with Siemian suiting up.
Not long ago, Siemian was pondering his future as a QB. Reportedly, even considered going into real-estate following college. Don’t go clutching your pearls yet, fellow Jets fans. Siemian pursued his dream and landed a cushy gig as a third-string QB on a Superbowl contender. The Broncos went on to win the Superbowl that year, and before he knew it both the men ahead of him were gone. Peyton Manning retired, walking into the sunset, and Osweiler inked a hefty contract to play for the Texans (more on him later).
The Broncos went on to draft Paxton Lynch that same year, but it was Siemian who won the job. The fun-lovers with a sense of humor that make the NFL schedule immediately threw Siemian to the wolves, as he faced the Carolina Panthers in the season opener. Keep in mind, the Panthers had fresh wounds from their Superbowl defeat at the hands of the Broncos and would be looking for blood. Siemian turned in an uneven performance, with 178yds 1td and 2ints, but got his team the victory. The following week he threw for 215yds in the first half and earned another win, and hype was beginning to build around this once aspiring real-estate agent.
Siemian continued building the hype. In his first road start, he amassed over 300yds 4tds and no interceptions, becoming the first quarterback to do so in their first road start. Long story short, Siemian would win four of his first six games before heading into his first Monday Night Football matchup, against the very same Brock Osweiler who was ahead of him in the depth chart just a year earlier.
Siemian would finish that game with 157yds 1td. Nothing world beating, of course, but we were able to start seeing the type of quarterback Siemian was. The rest of his season as a first time starter was a mixed bag, but keep in mind there was a six week stretch where Siemian was one of only three QBs in the NFL to finish every game with 300+ passing yards. The Bronocs, however, would go on to miss the playoffs at 9-7, with Siemian being named an alternate to the Pro Bowl.
The rest of Siemian’s career would be marked by uneven play and injury. He was ultimately traded away to the Vikings, where he sat behind Kirk Cousins for a year.
This past pre-season for the Jets, Siemian was basically “Captain Checkdown” (as one Jets beat reporter lovably named him). Read into it what you want, but he was playing behind backup linemen and knew he wasn’t competing for the starting gig, or really even competing for the backup gig.
So, what can we take away from all of this information? First, Siemian is not likely to be anyone’s long-term answer at the quarterback positions. However, he has proven to be a winner to some extent. More in the mold of a game manager, who can lean on the experience of his skill positions (Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas in Denver) and a sturdy defense (Orange Crush in Denver).
If Demaryius Thomas plays Monday night for the Jets, there could be some familiarity there. During the first half of the Week 1 matchup with the Bills, the Jets defense seemed to be trending towards elite. Mosley was a man among boys. Marcus Maye had maybe his best performance as a pro and Jordan Jenkins was downright impactful. Injuries mounted though, and it will be a tall task for the defense and Gregg Williams to replicate the punch in the mouth they gave the Bills. However, the potential is there. My biggest concern for Siemian (and any QB taking snaps for the Jets) lands square in the lap of the offensive line. The front office will regret not paying more attention to this group during free agency and the draft. Siemian being forced to create out of the pocket or make decisions too quickly could lead to disaster and numerous checkdowns.
The pessimist in me wants to say the Jets will lose this game against the Browns. BUT, I feel it will be closer than some may think.
For all our deficiencies and injuries on defense, I trust Williams to scheme up enough disguises and pressure to play to our strength. The Browns will be hungry however, after the embarrassing outing they had in Week 1. A little later in the season and I would pencil the Jets in for a “trap-game” win against the over-confident Browns. If the Browns pass-rush plays like it did in Tennessee (and the Jets O-line has the game of their lives), Siemian is skilled and smart enough to make things interesting, and can take the top off the defense if he has time to hit Robby deep.
It’ll take some luck, and a whole lot of heart, but the Jets could sneak away with one, if Siemian can show the form he did his first year starting in Denver.