Boy, what a game. Sunday night marked the Broncos first win in the pre season. They defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34 to 17. It was a fun game to watch. It was by far Denver's best game overall. The starters were solid and their backups were much improved. Perhaps the fact that cuts start this week had something to do with the increased effort in their play. Nevertheless, it was a game that had a ton of positives, but not many negatives. Let us examine.
If you saw my predictions before the game, you saw that I predicted 3 things: an explosive Eddie Royal TD, a Jarvis Moss sack, and a Perrish Cox interception. I was 1 of 3 but it was the one I wanted most. Perrish Cox got an interception, but it wasn't any interception. It was an interception in the end zone. Not only was Cox in the right spot, but he also adjusted in mid air perfectly to stay in bounds. Perrish also was very solid throughout the rest of the game. He was tight on his coverage and receivers rarely beat him if they even got the ball. I can see why Perrish is earning the trust of his veteran teammates. He is a player in every sense of the word. I can't wait to see him progress. This guy is special.
1st game I said Robert was getting good pressure. 2nd game he got his 1st sack. Against Pittsburgh, Ayers had 2 sacks, although 1 of them went uncredited due to a ticky tac penalty against Cox . Ayers was a force on Sunday. He was constantly in the backfield. He got 2 sacks and plenty more pressures. His 2nd sack came when Ayers started outside, but quickly spun inside and had an open layer to the Steeler's QB. It was a thing of beauty. Ayers has been stepping up in a big way. He has progressed in each game this preseason. We really need Ayers if our defense is going to survive without Dumervil. So far, so good and that might be an understatement.
The left side of our o-line is in doubt until Ryan Clady is back and fully healed. So far we have had Tyler Polumbus and D'Anthony Batiste try out for left tackle, but both have failed. I think we have our winner. Zane Beadles was far from perfect. There were certainly instances when Orton got pressured from that blind side, but Zane was way better then Batiste or Polumbus. Even more important is that Stanley Daniels was able to fill in for Zane at left guard. Stanley seems to have more problems with pass blocking, but certainly not with run blocking. There were a couple instances when he was out in front blocking for the runners. Stanley might be the best run blocking guard I've seen so far in pre season. They should both get more time next week and I want to take a longer look, but so far, I like the Beadles/Daniels combo.
I want to point out to one play. One single play to show why LenDale White is going to make this team. After 2 failed attempts, it is 3rd down. The ball is on the 2 yard line. The ball is hiked, LenDale gets the ball and plows up the middle. He meets an offensive lineman and several defensive lineman. What does LenDale do? He puts his head down, plows over his own offensive lineman and the Denver Broncos have a touchdown. That is why LenDale White will make this team. Those short yardage situations that Denver could not convert last year are not going to be a problem this year. Despite coming off an injury and missing all but 2 practices, LenDale looked smooth. He showed flashes of the talent that made him a great player at USC. Despite the 4 game suspension, White will make this team. He is passionate about the Broncos and is making the most of his opportunity here.
Some pictures are worth more then a thousand words.
I. Love. Joe. Mays. If there was a doubt in anyone's mind if he was going to make the team, there should no longer be a doubt. Mays brings a layer to our linebackers that we haven't had: Physicality. He is arguably the most physical player on our team. He was busting through the line of scrimmage and nailing the ball carrier better then anyone else. On top of that, he had 3 tackles, 2 assists, the most qb hits (3), a tackle for loss, and half of a sack. Mays is probably our best linebacker when it comes to stopping the run. He is quick, a solid tackler, and hits extremely hard. I don't know how Philadelphia traded this guy to us for J.J. Arrington. I wouldn't trade this guy for 3 J.J. Arringtons. If we combined Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard, we would have a pro bowl middle linebacker.
For someone who started learning the 3-4 defense a week ago, I was very impressed with Jason. He was applying great pressure from the OLB position. He ended the game with 4 tackles, 2 assists, the 2nd most qb hits (2), 1 tackle for loss and half of a sack. Hunter passed the first test with flying colors. If he plays the same way next week, mark him down for a roster spot in permanent ink. It should be noted he had great chemistry with Joe Mays.
To put it plainly, our special teams looks great. Our coverage was night and day compared to the Cincinnati game. After plenty of work and reps in practice, we are a million times better in just a few weeks. One of the studs on our stud team is Cassius Vaughn. Every time there is a punt, he is the 1st person to get to the ball. I have noticed his ST teams in every single pre season game. We should absolutely put this guy on our PS. He could be a valuable asset in the future.
On top of coverage, our returners are great. Some people did not like when Eddie Royal was on the field for one ST play in which he did a fair catch. Based on what I saw today, we don't even need Eddie and that is a scary thought. Perrish Cox only returned 1 punt for 2 yards, but we saw him last week. We know he is a stud. Matt Willis has also shown some elusiveness and proved he is an asset in the kicking game. However, there is 1 man who blew everyone away. He arguably had the best day of any of the 2nd/3rd stringers. You know who I'm talking about......
When you are a 2nd/3rd string player, your opportunities are limited. When you get put into a game, you need to make an impact. You need to make a statement or become just another face in the crowd. Syd'Quan didn't just make a statement, he made a statement, put it in stone and signed his name in cursive. I don't even know where to begin. First off, "Squid" was solid in coverage. He was active all game. He gained 2 tackles, 1 assist, 2 passes deflected, and he picked off a ball and returned it for a TD. That is not all. As mentioned above, Squid had a great day returning balls. He returned 3 punts for 86 yards. In all of his returns, he showed noticeable shiftiness. In my mind, Syd'Quan is nearly assured a roster spot. There is literally no chance we would be able to get him on the PS. He is a real asset in the kicking game and he is a pretty good nickel corner. If he even has half the game next week that he did this week, he will get a roster spot. Cassius Vaughn, Tony Carter, and Kyle McCarthy lost any chance they had to make the team when Syd'Quan Thompson suited up today.
We have our backup quarterback...or at least we should. Tim Tebow has now outperformed Brady Quinn in 2 pre season games. Was he perfect today? No. He made mistakes including a very poorly thrown ball that was nearly a pick six and missing a wide open Eddie Royal on 3rd down. However, what I love about Tebow is that he is a fighter. Tim threw his interception and he came back and orchestrated a five play, 74-yard drive that ended with a nicely thrown pass to Eric Decker in the back of the endzone. It wasn't all good and he has plenty of work to do, but the fact is that Tim Tebow has outplayed Brady Quinn. It is time to move Tim up on the depth chart.
I couldn't pick just one. All of our wide receivers had a good game. Brandon Lloyd is having a great pre season. He continued with 4 catches for 40 yards. Matt Willis was solid catching 3 passes for 55 yards. Eddie had 3 passes for 36 yards. This is a great sign. Our offense reminds me of the Saints. One week, our #1 receiver (Jabar Gaffney) could have a huge game, and the next game he could be a #4 guy. Our offense is firing on all cylinders. It's scary to think that we don't even have our #1 draft pick Demayrius Thomas yet. When he gets back, look out NFL.
Lance Ball- This was a great game for Ball. He looked very solid. He ran the ball 10 times for 75 yards (7.5 ypc). The only thing that I was unhappy with was his dropped pass early in the 1st. He needs to make grabs like that. Other then that, Lance had a solid game and put himself above Hall and Fargas. He has the 4th spot just about wrapped up.
Brady needs a major boost in confidence. He looks like he is a tenative QB who is afraid to make a mistake. He is so afraid to make a mistake that he keeps making mistakes. He needs to get a better mental clock. He stands in the pocket for 7 seconds and doesn't move an inch. He finished the game with 1 pass for 2 yards. That is not the way to win a back up job. In my mind, he has lost. He has simply been outplayed. If Orton went out for the season tomorrow, I would feel more comfortable with Tebow in the game then Quinn.
I honestly don't even know if this guy played on Sunday and that is a huge problem. If he wasn't playing, why not? If he was, he failed to record a single tackle. He didn't do anything. When your a 7th round player competing for playing time, not doing anything statistically isn't going to win you a job. It's going to send you to waivers in the blink of an eye. With Jason Hunter and Baraka Atkins stepping up, say adios to Kirlew and......
see Jammie Kirlew
In a game where 2 starters are not playing, the depth is going to play extensively. So what does it tell you that LenDale White got 12 carries, Lance Ball got 10 carries, Bruce Hall got 5, and Fargas got just 1. He didn't look impressive last week against Detroit and now he saw his opportunities significantly decreased. This is a big red flag for Fargas. He shouldn't last another week.
This is a message to Brandon Stokley, you better get on the field ASAP. Our wide receivers are looking great. Like I said above, Demayrius isn't even playing yet. So how in the world is Stokley supposed to make an impact when we have so many tools in place. Gaffney, Lloyd, Royal, Decker, and Willis all have performed great during pre season. Throw in Demayrius and I simply don't see a place for Stokley. It won't be a happy day, but I believe cut day is inevitable for Stokley.
This is has been a problem all off season. We need to stop the run or we are going to be screwed. Our first game is against Jacksonville (Maurice Jones Drew) and soon after we play Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, and Ray Rice. If we can't stop the run we are going to be in for a long season and can kiss any shot at playoffs goodbye. Jonathan Dwyer ran 13 times for 89 yards. Rashard Mendenhall ran 5 times for 28 yards. There is no excuses, we have to stop the run better.
We miss too many tackles. Part of the problem with our run defense is that opposing running backs bounce into our players but aren't brought down. We need to tackle the ball carriers. Our D-Line is atrocious at this. Ronald Fields could have stopped a guy for a 1 yard gain, but instead, he ran for 20+ yards. It's things like that that are going to lose us ball games.
It was so nice seeing D.J. Williams back. Want to know why he is one of my favorite players? D.J. led all players with 7 tackles and 5 assists. He is quietly our most productive player on a regular basis. It was nice to see him back. I don't expect to see him much if at all on Thursday.
Matt Prater made 2 field goals. Allow me to correct myself, Prater drilled 2 field goals right down the middle. After missing a 45 yarder last week, he made sure there was no doubting him. His kick offs also looked great. One of his kickoffs almost made it into the stands. That thing had a motor on it.
Britton Colquitt is our punter for the next 10 years. He punted 4 balls for 224 yards. That is a 56 yard average. He looks great and his job is 100% locked up.
Jarvis Moss had a decent game. It wasn't quite like the one he had against Detroit, but he certainly made his presence felt tonight. He got into the backfield several times and batted down a pass. Moss seems to excel in pass defense, but struggles in the run game. He had an average game. I expect big things from him this year. We need him.
Andre Goodman had a fantastic game. With Champ out, he was playing as our # 1 CB. He had 4 tackles, 4 assists, 2 passes batted down and an interception that he returned for a TD. Goodman certainly showed why he is a starter on this team.
Alphonso Smith had a solid game today. He looks to be getting more confidence as time passes. One play in particular caught my attention. He got into the backfield, tripped up the runner, and Jarvis Moss and Robert Ayers finished him. Phonz was overshadowed by the great games of Cox and SydQuan, but Phonz quietly had a nice game against Steelers' 1st teamers.
It was a great game for the Broncos. We needed a win. With all of the injuries that occurred, we needed a boost in morale for both the players and the fans. We beat the Steelers in a decisive manner. Our starters outplayed theirs. There is still stuff we need to work on, but it was a successful day on Sunday. One more game on Thursday against Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings and then we start the season. It should be a great opportunity to see who gets a roster spot and who is going to get cut. Until next time Bronco Fans.