There is no greater feeling in the world then watching your favorite football team on a Sunday afternoon. I know because I woke up yesterday in the best mood I've been in since draft day. Sunday was the 1st preseason game and it left me wanting happy, sad, and wanting more.
So lets not delay. Let's jump right into it:
Oh how much can change in a year. One year ago, Kyle had a terrible 1st pre season game and many fans were calling for his head. On Sunday, Orton played arguably his best football as a Bronco. He went 8 for 13, 84 yards and 2 TD's. He was very comfortable under center. He looked poised. During a goal line attempt, the play was designed to be a run. Instead, he read the coverage, changed the play, and Lloyd found himself a TD in the endzone. Kyle is the unquestioned starter of the Broncos. He tore apart a well respected Cincinnati defense. Imagine what he can do with his starting running back, backup running back, and rookie wide receivers Demayrius Thomas and Eric Decker.
Champ Bailey is one of the best CB's in the league. Anyone who disagrees is just plain ignorant. On Sunday night, Champ made clutch play after clutch play. He batted away 2 passes and stopped T.O. from crossing the 1st down line during a 4th and 2. He looks mid season form already. If he plays like this for the rest of the season, he can expect a nice, fat contract in the near future.
Robert Ayers did not record a single tackle during Sundays game. So why is he in the Good section? Because he was a force from the OLB position. From the start of the game, Robert was bull rushing Carson Palmer. He was even pressuring him after Cincinnati started double teaming him. The problem is that Denver is without Elvis Dumervil and Jarvis Moss. Someone needs to step up because Robert Ayers is doing his job. He is pressuring the qb quite successfully. Drawing double teams means that someone should be able to get to the qb. Haggan, Moss, Alexander, Kirlew, someone needs to step up.
J.D.Walton and Zane Beadles
These 2 rookies did a solid job. In their first taste of their NFL, they played the whole game. J.D. had a couple of errant snaps and Zane got beat a couple of times, but these two were solid for their first game, J.D. in particular. I was watching J.D. for awhile and most of the times I saw him, he was able to hold his man at the line. All those training sessions with Jamal Williams are paying off.
Branson was a very silent contributor on Sunday. However, I took notice of what he was able to do and I was impressed. He was a smooth route runner and a reliable target for every QB. I believe that he is going to be an underrated contributor this year. I wasn't watching his blocking too much, but his receiving skills left a good impression on me. I love me those under the radar guys who are perfect for those 3rd and 5 situations.
Poor guy. He gets rave reviews from TC and the first thing he does wrong was at the worst opportune moment. Willis dropped a deep pass from Tim Tebow that would have gotten Bronco Country on it's feet. It was a beautiful deep ball that dropped right into Willis' hands. He just couldn't hold on. However, it shouldn't take away from the impact Willis had. Willis caught two passes for 54 yards. Both passes were from Quinn. He was also responsible for making a Bengals defender draw a passing interference call. I like what I saw from Willis. I want to see more next week.
Tebow threw 8 for 13, 105 yards and 1 rushing TD. His stats would have been better if not for a couple of drops by Willis and Branson (which was debatable in the end zone). Tebow's mechanics did not looked much improved. Were they better then what they were in Florida? Yes. But he still has a long way to go. He is going to get the ball stripped if he doesn't tighten up his release. But, for the most part, I really liked what I saw from Tebow. Although, I was scared after he took that last hit. Tebow is who we thought he was. He is one tough competitor. Most 3rd string QB's would have thrown the ball into traffic while trying to avoid pressure hoping a WR would make a play. Tebow decided to tuck the ball and plow into the endzone. That is what makes him Tim Tebow. Although, I would like him to not do that too much. If that had been Ray Lewis on the other end of the hit, he would not have came away from that unscathed.
Brady was terrible. He was an abysmal 6 for 16, 68 yards and 1 interception that was returned for a touchdown. He often locked onto 1 receiver and overthrew several throws. He looked like the QB that Cleveland traded away without a second thought. To his credit, Quinn did settle down a bit and led a field goal drive to end the 1st half. Brady is a work in progress. His time in Cleveland messed him up and he is trying to get back on track. He is a hard worker and he will progress. He just needs time and reps. Unfortunately for him, Tim Tebow is knocking right on his door. Brady might find himself on the 3rd string sooner then he would like.
Oh man. I was really hoping I would be able to put Phonz in the good side. Unfortunately, Phonz was bad. Really bad. He led the team in tackles (6), but he missed several tackles and was lost in coverage too many times for comfort. This is his second season, he should be much better then he was last year. He looked like he regressed. I won't be too harsh since it was the 1st pre season game, but his bad play is troublesome to say the least.
Perrish has gotten rave reviews all Summer. Unfortunately, he did not show why during the first game. He was beat several times in coverage and he averaged the least amount in kick returns (20). He didn't have as bad of a day as Alphonso. There were a couple of plays that Cox positioned himself perfectly so the WR couldn't get the ball. Those were good plays. But other then that, his 1st game was one to forget.
Nathan Jones was brought in as one of the best nickel corners. He was supposed to improve our nickel packages. After watching the 1st game, I don't see the hype...at all. Nate was beat in coverage and was the recipient of a penalty that cost Denver 15 yards (blocking a player out of bounds). He was also juked badly by an easy move on the sidelines that resulted in 10-20 extra yards. The 1st pre season game is used to rub the dust off and get the wheels moving again. Maybe Nate has more dust then others, but him, Phonz, and Cox have to step it up.
Special Teams Tackling
Ugly. Sloppy. Terrible. All words to describe our special teams coverage last night. There were too many missed tackles to count. It seemed every time our special teams went onto the field, someone missed a tackle. Special Teams standout Darcell McBath left due to injury and I don't remember seeing special teams gunner David Bruton in the second half. Special Teams needs to tighten it up since we play in a division that includes Darren Sproles, Javier Arenas, Dexter McCluster, and Jacoby Ford.
3rd and 4th team Players
The problem with the Denver Broncos is they are way too injured. Most of their 2nd teamers were starting in place for their injured 1st teamers. Behind the 2nd teamers is a bunch of players who are a mess. They are sloppy and need to improve. I am pleased with our 1st and 2nd team players. I am displeased with the sloppy and lazy play of our 3rd and 4th team players. There was almost no effort by those 3rd and 4th string players.
Our running game was almost nonexistent on Sunday. The total number of running plays was 15. 4 of them were QB scrambles. Lance Ball ran 6 times for 27 yards. He had nice runs of 10 and 7. Bruce Hall ran 5 times for -3 yards. Toney Baker and Justin Fargas didn't run the ball once. I don't know why we didn't run the ball on Sunday, but it is troubling. Orton is not going to be able to carry the team by himself. He needs some production from the RB's. I am hoping to see a lot more running next Sunday since Fargas would have a full week of studying under his belt.
Players I Would Like To See More Of:
He had a beautiful curl route that he took in for a touchdown. However, he didn't catch another ball. He wasn't even targeted other then the TD pass. I like seeing the ball in his hands, but I can't give Eddie big props for 1 catch in which he was led perfectly by Orton. I want to see Eddie make explosive plays before I am ready to say "08 Eddie is back".
Jammie had 1 of the teams 2 sacks. He was giving some good pressure when the 2nd teamers were in the game. He had a decent game, but I want to see him play a little more in coverage and against the run. So far, I liked what I saw, but I want to see more.
Kevin was an undrafted free agent but he played with passion today. I noticed him several times get into the back field and apply some pressure. Like Ayers, he didn't get any tackles, but I liked the pressure he applied. I hope he gets some more looks next week.
If there is one person I want to see more of, it's Joe Mays. I really liked what I saw from Mays. He really does look like Mike Tyson. The dude is BUFF. He finished with 3 tackles and 1 assist. I saw him being very active against the run. The knock on him coming from Philly was his pass coverage. I remember one play when Jermaine Gresham ran a comeback route right in front of Mays. Gresham caught the ball, but Mays had great reactive instincts and hit Gresham .1382344 seconds after he got the ball. I can't wait to see Mays again next week. He is very intriguing.
Atkins was very active on Sunday. He accumulated 4 tackles and 1 sack. He was applying some decent pressure and was constantly around the ball. He is competing with Mays for the ILB position. I want to see more of them next week.
Woodyard started the game today. He played pretty well. He had 4 tackles and 1 assist on the day. He was very quick to get to the ball. However, I didn't see him apply much pressure to the QB. Maybe it was the play calling, or maybe it wasn't. But if he is going to be a contributor and possibly a starter, he needs to apply more pressure on the QB. Ayers can't do it alone. Someone has to step up.
This kid really impressed me. He notched just 1 assist on the day, but it wasn't his defense that impressed me. I was very surprised by how shifty he was in his returns. He returned 3 balls for a 25 yard average. Twice he returned kicks for 28 yards. 1 time in particular he was 1 block away from blazing up the left sideline. Vaughn should be keeping his eye on Tony Carter. If he could stay even close to his level, Vaughn should get the nod due to his impressive return skills. At the very least, he will be on our PS.
When all is said and done, it's just the 1st pre season game. There is no need to be concerned until we start to see a pattern. Is Brady Quinn consistently overthrowing his receivers by 10 yards? Is D'Anthony Batiste consistently being bullied on the line? Is Nate Jones consistently losing his man? None of these questions can be answered after 1 game, but these questions will serve as a good base for the next game. I enjoyed watching the 1st pre season game with you guys and I can't wait till we play Detroit on Sunday.