ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Trevor Siemian has played his last snap of the season. Whether he has played his last snap as a Bronco is just one of a myriad of questions the Denver Broncos will have to answer, one by one, at their quarterback position over the coming months.
Siemian suffered a left shoulder subluxation after being driven to the ground on a sack by Indianapolis' Barkevious Mingo in the first quarter of the Broncos' 25-13 win over the Colts Thursday night. Brock Osweiler replaced Siemian and fared quite well, posting a 147.7 rating on 12-of-17 passing for 194 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
But all that could still lead Paxton Lynch, who has recovered from a high-ankle sprain, back to the starting lineup next week in Washington. The Broncos' quarterback carousel continues to spin.
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said Friday he was unsure which quarterback would start against the Redskins, but did declare that Lynch was healthy after dealing with the injury the last three weeks.
"We've got two healthy guys there," he said. "We're going to have a staff meeting on Monday morning and see who's best for us."
At some point, the Broncos have to find out what they have in Lynch, especially with their offseason options -- particularly in the draft, but also in free agency -- appearing to be more robust than they would be in most years.
"Paxton being a young guy, we want to see him play more, so that part will have some bearing there," Joseph said. "So we'll see. Brock played really well last night. He made some big-time throws and his leadership showed. He played with great poise and he took care of the football. That's going to be a long and hard conversation."
What will the Broncos do? Well, it starts with understanding that Joseph does not consider the term "game manager" to be an insult -- especially after turnovers sunk his team's chances of winning the AFC West.
"If a bad ball is thrown and it's picked off for a pick-six, that affects your team," Joseph stated obviously. "I think it starts with the quarterback and it depends on what type of guy you have. Do you have a guy that can change games and win games, or do you have a guy who can manage games?
"If you have a game manager, the guys around him have to be better players. I've seen both win. You can win with both types of guys."
In the offseason, the Broncos may look for a "game manager" to guide a team with what they expect will still be an outstanding defense. For now, they have to answer a simple question: Who will start in Week 16, and if it is Paxton Lynch, can he do anything to claim a spot as part of the team's future at that position?
--When the Broncos run the football, they win. But doing so remains a chicken-and-egg conundrum for them.
Denver is 5-0 when it runs more often than it passes, and 0-9 when it passes more often than it runs. The Broncos have also never lost when handing the football to C.J. Anderson at least 20 times; he carried it 30 times Thursday night.
It seems pretty clear, right? Run the ball and win; pass the ball and lose.
"Well I'll say this about that, when you're in even games, you can stay with the running game. When you're down by two or three scores, it's tough to stay in the running game," head coach Vance Joseph said. "Even when you're down by a field goal, even a touchdown, you can stay with it because you won't score out. You're down by three scores, you can't. It's simply being in one-score games."
The Broncos were down by two scores Thursday, but that was in the first half; the game was within reach. Once Brock Osweiler guided the offense to a touchdown late in the first half, the Broncos had the freedom to run -- and keep running.
"Obviously, our offensive line did a phenomenal job, and C.J. and our backs did a phenomenal job running the ball," tight end Jeff Heuerman said. "But hats off to Brock, because a lot of those plays were checked. There were a lot of looks where he had to get up there and make the right check to the right run play."
REPORT CARD VS. COLTS
--PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Trevor Siemian threw a first-quarter interception and was sacked twice, including the hit from Barkevious Mingo that knocked him out of the game, but then Brock Osweiler took over and delivered his best work as a Bronco, racking up a 147.7 passer rating on 12-of-17 passing for 194 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Osweiler made good decisions, kept the Colts off-balance and showed the value of proper preparation, even as a backup. The two quarterbacks spread the football around, with four receiving targets posting over 50 yards in receptions.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: A-minus -- The offensive line blasted away at the Colts, and C.J. Anderson galloped through the holes for his biggest game in three years, a 30-carry, 158-yard romp that saw him and the line control the tempo of the game, allowing the Broncos to post a 13-minute, 42-second advantage in time of possession. The ability of Anderson, Devontae Booker and the Broncos to control the tempo was on full display in the fourth quarter, when they drained all comeback hopes from the Colts with a 16-play, 62-yard march that chewed up nine minutes, 40 seconds of the clock and iced the game.
--PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- Eventually, the Broncos contained Jacoby Brissett and the Colts' receiving targets, although they did find success early with connections to their tight ends and running backs, who accounted for 74 percent of the gross passing yards accumulated by the second-year quarterback. Brissett was sacked just once -- for a loss of zero yards -- but the Broncos gradually increased the pressure, forcing him to move and settle for checkdowns and low-percentage passes near the sideline.
--RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus -- The Broncos continued their strong form against the run, holding the Colts to just 3.2 yards per carry, with none of their attempts going for double digits. Only the scrambles of Jacoby Brissett posed any kind of consistent problem for Denver's front seven, which limited Colts running backs Frank Gore and Marlon Mack to a combined 45 yards on 20 attempts.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- The Broncos' mistakes in the third phase didn't cost them the game, but they remain part of a troublesome season-long trend regardless. Jordan Taylor fumbled a punt, but recovered it, so there was no damage down. However, a delay-of-game penalty prior to a Brandon McManus field-goal attempt knocked the Broncos back five yards to set up a 40-yard attempt that he missed. That was the Broncos' second delay-of-game penalty on a kick in three games; they had a similar penalty on a third-quarter kickoff at Miami in Week 13.
--COACHING: B-plus -- For the second consecutive game, Vance Joseph and his coordinators installed an executed a game plan that played to the Broncos' strengths, minimized their weaknesses and allowed them to control the flow of the game. If the Broncos had been able to play to this formula earlier in the season -- one that minimizes mistakes, sticks with the run and allows the defense to work from advantageous field position far more often than not -- they would be playing meaningful games this month.