Finally week 3 of the preseason! We get to see the starters for over 1 half of a football game. We get the best chance of the preseason to sink our teeth into what our team will look like in the regular season.
If only the 49ers would have been a stout enough opponent we might have been able to enjoy that dream. As it is we got 1 quarter of the starters and 3 quarters of the "also rans". I did catch some good stuff though and there is always plenty to talk about so let's do this:
- We didn't see a whole lot of it, but the O-line opened some VERY nice holes for McGahee early. Our run game should have legs in my opinion unless McGahee gets injured (knock on wood). There was a play where we got blown up on the right side, but that was a missed assignment / lack of adjustment during the pre-snap read.
- McGahee continues to look like a stud to me. He runs with power and has good eyes typically. There are always outliers...one play early he could have cut back and gained at least 6 yards, but I think he was hung on a play being designed for a specific gap.
- Manning looked phenomenal. That is all.
- I'm officially changing my position on Lance Ball. I have shifted from "He's a waste of space" to "I'm okay having him as a backup RB at the 3rd or 4th spot". That catch he made was very impressive. I still hold that he just doesn't have enough strengths to be a starter though and he never will.
- Who wasn't impressed by that one arm tipped catch Stokley made?....*Crickets* And people were doubting him making the roster. Sorry but he's awesome and unless he gets hurt I'd imagine he'll be our #3.
- Decker - I've said it along with many other smart Bronco fans and bloggers -- watch out for Eric Decker this year. He runs some sweet looking routes and that plays perfectly into what Manning does. We saw 2 great TDs to Decker.
- The first of them was a perfectly executed timing route. The play was designed to clear out the right side of the field and have Decker break into a passing window that would be wide open for about one second. Decker was exactly where he was supposed to be and Manning read the play and executed the pass precisely.
- The second TD wasn't so much timing as play design with an accurate touch throw required. Having working parts on both sides of those plays is pretty darn exciting to me.
- Hanie overall looked serviceable. That INT was seriously awful though. His accuracy in the red zone was absolute crap (he wasn't even close to two very manageable throws from good play calls). Yes he looks better than Oz. No, I'm still not happy about it. I think if Manning gets hurt it will really require our defense to step up and win us games.
- Knowshon looked like Knowshon. Sometimes there were no holes for him (not his fault), but he was running well when he had a little wiggle room. He showed good burst. He was hit or miss running up the middle as usual...he just doesn't have the same ability as McGahee to manufacture 3 yards from a small crease inside. He absolutely manufactured a 1st down and he showed a friggin manly stiff arm. Stay healthy son. Seriously.
- Here's why Willis stays: He runs reliable routes with very good speed. I've heard people diss him, but from watching two games so far this year with him playing he's the 4th best WR we have.
- Here's what I liked about the TD pass to Dreessen: He made himself a big target and walled off the coverage. Most people will think of Gronkowski in NE when we talk about this type of play. If you are bigger and stronger than your coverage, take an angle that makes your back and shoulders protect the pass. It works great as long as you have a TE that has good hands. We aren't playing games that count yet, but this guy could easily be our #1 TE in my opinion. He so far looks better than Tamme from what I've seen.
- I saw Hillman show one run where he was using his vision really well to get the most yards. Some RBs just run at their hole and don't look with a very wide angle (Ball is a good example...every once in awhile he looks around, but his habit is to look 45 degrees in front of him). Hillman didn't seem to do that. He also had some really nice burst. I'd like to see him run some plays with the first team.
- I also noted down that Hill should be fired. I believe it was one of the more impressive drops I've seen lately...this is the NFL and you don't drop easy ones.
- Please try to cut block Doom more. Cause he's too short for that to work on, kids. You may get him sometimes...but most of the time it will lead to a nice sack of your QB. Doom has way too good of leverage for that junk.
- Everyone saw Rahim Moore get torched on that TD pass. What do you guys think of it? Growing pains? Inexcusable? In my opinion if we keep Moore he should be a back up. That was pretty disappointing.
- I know it is only the 49ers, but our coverage unit looked superb when the 1st unit was in (sans the Moore flub).
- I also really liked what our guys did containing the edge against San Fran. We kept the runs to the inside where the help was. Some of our poorer play in the past few years has been from letting guys get outside containment on the edges.
- Another thing I really liked was seeing our front 7 dominate the line. Goal line looked great too honestly. Once we swapped in the 2nd team guys that still held up fairly well and got worse the later the game went.
- Florence really missed a great opportunity in the first half to attack the ball. He was in a zone and the pass was heading his way. He just stood there instead of attacking and taking a INT to the house.
- Bruton made a very wicked tackle to get the D off the field on a 3rd down. I still like him as a backup guy.
- Kickoffs moved up a couple years ago + Game in Denver = boring kickoffs. *YAWN*
- Onside kick practice: Let me ding Willis here (which surprises me because he has shown great play on ST). If you are trying to recover an onside kick, you should know EXACTLY where on the field it will be legal to touch the ball. EXACTLY. I find his lack of smart disturbing.
- My last point falls under Special Teams because these guys are really REALLY special. I can't tell if these replacement refs suck or blow. Whatever it is they need to go and you can count me in with the NFL fans who will be pretty bent if my team loses a game because of the NFL's greed and uncaring. The 3rd down on the first drive our WR got held, then interfered with. Both were blatant and easy to spot calls.
Hit up those comments with stuff I missed or anything you guys have to add. I'm pretty darn excited about our team though. I saw some serious signs of the offense starting to click and our defense looks pretty primed as well. It is as good a year to be hopeful for our team as any. GO BRONCOS!