The third game in preseason is supposed to show us the best glance of what to expect in the regular season. For the Broncos, it was additionally important because we had several injured players coming back. Overall the night was a success. The Broncos and their fans should be excited. The sky is not falling and we stand a solid chance this year. That said, there is certainly room for improvement and some of it is critical if we truly hope to make a playoff run.
Here are my thoughts on some of the players and positions thus far.
Offense- The line is exactly what I expected, not terrible but not exactly stellar either. They struggled with assignments and sticking to their man. The good news is with all the position changes, rookies, and injuries, we can expect them to only improve with time. We also learned that Orton does not walk on water, but is still pretty darn good. He made a few bone-headed plays, but overall was extremely successful. I'm convinced that fighting the urge to lock on to one receiver will play a major role in his success this year. Our wide receiver corp is deep, but the younger guys still need to improve. Figuring out who to cut and who to keep will be difficult. Decker had mixed success. Missing a ball that hits you in the numbers is not excusable, but he looked decent in the rest of the game, including his first NFL touchdown. White looked good in his debut. I think it's too early to say he's back to his old form, but he is certainly on the right track. Having a reliable, short yard/goal line back is something we have sorely missed in recent years. Tebow looks like a rookie QB that still needs time to develop but obviously has some skills. No surprises there. His touchdown pass looked very much like what he did in his Florida days, which is a good thing. While I wish him the best, I think Quinn may be on his way out of Denver. The guy has all the right skills, but just can't seem to put it all together when it matters.
Defense- Let's start with the bad news first. Run containment is still a major issue that needs to be fixed if we hope to play more than sixteen games this year. Moss has got to learn to keep the runner inside. Wrapping up the tackle, while improved, remains a problem. Getting these problems fixed is absolutely critical for success. I fully expect Wink to focus on this in the coming weeks. Goodman made me nervous, he was trying to ball hawk too much last night in my opinion and it cost us some yards. It was like watching Bly minus all of the tripping and falling. True, it did paid off last night in some extra points, but jumping routes is like bluffing in poker. It only works well if you do every once in a while and experienced players will make you pay if you over do it. The Phonz continues to be a letdown and is drifting ever closer to the "bust" label. The good news is our new guys are awesome. Cox is continuing to prove he is the real deal and should only improve from here. The big guys up front are proving their worth. Getting slashed up the middle play after play, should become a thing of the past if the tackling and outside containment can get better. I now have faith we can still provide pressure without Doom. Ayers is becoming what we all hoped and Mays is a welcome addition to the squad. Those two know how to bring the pain. While both could use some polish, it's their motor and aggressiveness that impress and you can't teach that. QB's should stock up on Advil before playing the Broncos.
Special Teams- It's finally special again. I'm developing a man-crush... on a punter! I'm not sure what he did since last pre-season, but Britton Colquitt has become a stud. His deep, high and accurate kicks made me giddy. It's been awhile since we've had a punter to be proud of. Add Prater and his crazy, powerful leg into the mix and we should see opposing offenses starting further and further back. Let's hope they can maintain this power and accuracy into the regular season. It's still early, but Squid really impressed me with his speed and return abilities as well. Overall, the ST should be much improved from last year.
Bottom line: We are what we thought we were, a team that is growing and improving, but still far from perfect. To me, the best news is that despite our myriad of injuries, scheme, and roster changes, all of our problems can be addressed and fixed. For the most part, this year's new pickups are looking successful and should contribute in major ways this season. I have no doubt that the Broncos have improved over last year and the future is looking bright.
Agree, disagree? Did I forget something? Leave it in the comments below!