It's finally here! Through what was both the longest and shortest offseason to us as NFL fans, the Broncos will be suiting up to take on the Dallas Cowboys tomorrow at 6:30. It doesn't take a genius to know that the results are meaningless and not to get to upset about it. Pre-season games are all about individual performances and evaluation. I am excited for this game as I am any other.
What I love about the beginning of the pre-season is that every team comes into the season full of optimism. Every teams that was in our position last year thinks they can be like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of last year and go from the third overall pick to a 10-6 record.
You might say that is a bit unreasonable. You know what? Why not us? This team is miles ahead of where it was last year. Think about it. Forget Tim Tebow, and trust me, I am as big of a Tebow supporter that you will find. For the first time since 2006, we will go into a season with the same quarterback for the third year in a row. With Mike McCoy, we will have a similar system for the passing attack. Give Kyle Orton a chance. It is his third year in the system, it is the last year of his contract. Kyle Orton is an awesome quarterback. If you give Kyle Orton a good defense, Orton has shown that he can win football games.
I was thinking tonight about the New Orleans Saints. Last season Drew Brees went through a bit of a rough patch. He threw a game winning pick six and had a few poor performances early in the season. You know what was interesting about those games where the offense wasn't quite the same? The missing of Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. Suddenly the Saints running backs start coming back and they are scoring 30 points every game!
You better darn hope that Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee go through camp healthy. I know John Bena has stated this several times. In Moreno's two seasons, he health was in question going into week 1. He has always had to play catch up. In the first few plays of Moreno's career, he wrecked his hamstring. If they go through camp healthy along with Fox's running scheme, I think this will make our offense fantastic. We can bash Kyle Orton's redzone play last season all we want. I am not gonna try to tell you it was good because it was not. The thing is, teams knew what to do in the red zone. Coach's after the first quarter of the season basically would say "The Broncos do not have a consistent running game to be afraid of, and if I were a betting man, I will take my chances that we will play the pass."
If we can get a good red zone running game, think of the guessing game teams will have to play. I don't think it was that Tebow was so incredible at running, it was that we were mixing it up and changing it. Also, really, who was our red zone threat receiver? Brandon Lloyd isn't that guy. He is a deep threat and a play maker. It could potentially be Eddie Royal. I predict that it will be Demaryius Thomas once he is healthy. But you know who will tie us over til then? Julius Thomas. The basketball star will help us out big time. Finally the Broncos have taken some athletes in the draft that can help. I mean look at what KC did last year with all their athletes.
So after all that, my point is that give Orton another chance. He can make all the throws and I think our defense will be much better that he won't have to score 30 points every game, or be forced to make game winning drives all the time. Let him take the lead and roll with it like Big Ben or Joe Flacco or Mark Sanchez. Those guys play with great defenses that put the team in position to score with a 60 yard field instead of the 85 one that we always seem to end up with.
Lets hope that the rumors about Knowshon being much faster are true. Knowshon will never be the run people over back, but combining his speed to hit the hole and get 5-10 yards with McGahee's short yardage ability and I think we will be able to chip away. I still would like us to pick up a big play back like a Felix Jones or Darren Sproles that can break one.
Wait....Did I title this things to look for against the Cowboys?
Alright so we are playing the Dallas Cowboys in a preseason game. What is important when it comes to making the final roster? What should we as fans look for and get excited to watch? Here are a few things I will check out .
1) The play-calling - I am really excited to see how much McCoy has went away from what McDaniels ran. We did a lot of bubble screens and they were not that successful. I hope to see a more vertical passing attack and to really attack the defense.
2) Which young receiver wants to play - We have a load of young receivers. Last off-season, Britt Davis and Matthew Willis proved they could be good depth receivers in the future. I know they will battle for a spot on the team. I think Brandon Lloyd is the only guy that has his spot locked up. I could see Eric Decker passing Eddie Royal if he plays well enough, but I hear Royal is having a great camp so hopefully he can produce like his rookie year.
3) Protection - I am not worried about how our veteran lineman play. I know Clady will be back at top form and Kuper as solid as always. But I am interested in what Walton and Beadles have brought to the team this year. Both were okay last year but they need to improve. We will find out who will bring the depth at those positions because there is not a chance that the line stays healthy all year. Hopefully they can protect the quarterbacks this year.
4) Running backs - I hope to see which running back can be a big play guy. As I said above, Knowshon can be a force if he learnt not to dance and he is a lot faster. McGahee will be a tough guy that I wouldn't be surprised to get the start in the season. But we will run tandem backs so it won't matter who starts. I was looking forward to watching Mario Fannin but that is gone now.I hope Lendale White is back to the form he was at last year before he got hurt. I think he is another guy who would help a lot when we need a good push, and I have even thought about plugging him into the full back position if we need a jumbo set. We have a lot of running backs so we will see who will win the battles. Moreno and McGahee are the guaranteed guys and probably Lance Ball, but I wanna see who wins the battle between Minor, Sylvestor and Gable.
5) Defensive pressure - I know Dumervil will be great. I doubt Von Miller plays much but I wanna watch the boy play! I wanna see how much we can get into the backfield. Especially up the middle. We have not seen that in a long time and I hope we can get in there to threaten the run. Also, I think the guy on the bubble more than anyone is Robert Ayers. He is now playing his natural position and I hope to see him playing well, enough to be close to the expectations we had for a first round pick.
6) The cornerback battle - Champ and Andre Goodman have the starting spots solidified, but I wanna see the backup spots. Perrish Cox is in a bit of trouble as we all know but I have been hearing good things about Cassius Vaughn. Hopefully he can turn into a good depth player. Syd'Quan Thompson has been an interception machine in camp so hopefully with the new attack of Dennis Allen we can get more interceptions.
7) Brian Dawkins - Rahim Moore will be fine and we know what we will get. A risk taking ball hawking safety. Dawkins seemed slower last year so hopefully he worked hard enough that he can still tackle and crush like before. Hopefully the knee troubles are gone and his speed is back. He is old but I worry that he has lost too much and he could be replaced early in the season. I wouldn't be surprised though if he doesn't even play on Thursday.
So those are seven of the many things I am interested in on Thursday. And hey, as much as it is a preseason game, I hate losing, so GO BRONCOS!
Also, my video under review series will be returning with Broncos football being back. Gimme some ideas for who you wanna see a review of. Could be a player, or some other part of the game. Let me know !