2013 NFL Preseason: Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers: Game Notes

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Hello folks, here to add another perspective to what happened last night in the Broncos first action of the 2013 season.

Offense

QB's:

Peyton Manning Arm looked a bit stronger. In fact on his deep ball to Demaryius Thomas on 1st down, he put a little too much juice on it, was also solid/tight coverage. Both times I've seen Peyton run the offense from the pistol, he's handed the ball off. To be sure there is a play action component to this, perhaps even a reverse with one of the speedy guys.

Brock Osweiler Showed great poise under heavy pressure all night. Was able to slide well in the pocket and scramble to avoid rushers. A couple times I thought he took off too quick. Other times he stayed strong inside the pocket and delivered strikes for first downs. The 1st Q pass on a sideline route to Julius Thomas was beautifully placed and the ball arrived just as JT came out of his break.

On a screen pass on 3rd and long, I felt like Oz panicked and threw a bad ball into the turf. On a comeback route to King, Oz threw the ball behind, should have been a first down. Noticed a few times that Brock checked into a different play--good to see the young kid start to grasp the audible system. Loved seeing the bootleg and the fact that he can throw accurately on the run.

Zac Dysert Played better than I expected. Showed poise under pressure and the ability to make plays outside the pocket. Took a bad sack near the redzone, has to learn to throw the ball away.

Overall The biggest impression Brock Osweiler left me after last night is that he will take care of the ball and find ways to avoid pressure. His accuracy is pretty good but to judge any of that I have to see a little bit more.

HB:

Ronnie Hillman/Montee Ball

I group them together because the blocking up front was so terrible, it was hard for either to get much traction. I'm still not sold on Hillman as a guy who can run inside, I'm still not sold on Ball as the next TD. I saw more from the reserves than I did from them--competition level aside.

Knowshon Moreno

Picked up a blitzer on a double A gap blitz...problem is someone missed the other guy. Not Knowshon's fault, he did his job.

Jacob Hester

Was used a couple of plays as a pure FB. Saw some time blocking for Hillman on the offenses' 2nd series of the game. To my recollection, never carried the ball--an interesting development for someone who supposedly was earmarked for the #4 spot on the depth chart.

CJ Anderson

What I didn't see from the two feature backs, I saw from this guy. He hit holes quickly and decisively. In fact that 4th and 1 that should have been converted sums up his effort. He was stonewalled by the rush in the backfield and still fought, slithered, and reached for what should have been a first down. He also showed speed to the edge something that both Knowshon and Montee struggle with.

Lance Ball

Missed a wide open cut to the backside that could have gone for a first down. The time is ticking on his tenure as a Bronco.

Overall

The line play in general makes it tough to praise or admonish too much. However when Anderson entered the game, I saw a hardnosed runner who made decisive cuts and that was something that had been lacking before that point in the game. If he keeps running like this, he will create the possibility that the Broncos keep 4 RB's plus a 1 FB on the active roster. That also puts the 9th OL spot or the 4th TE spot in play for a roster position.

TE:

Julius Thomas

I most certainly see his value and potential as the receiving/H-back type player. And he was used as such. He may have only caught 4 balls for 35 yards but he did everything he was asked to do and he did it well. Julius got separation, made tough catches, helped move the chains a couple times, and blocked pretty well. In fact on that biggest cutback run of the night, Thomas sealed off the backside defender coming from the FB spot in the backfield. I want to see more of what he's capable of but at this point you know he will get you some tough catches and move the chains which is what you want from this position.

Virgil Green

Virgil also impressed me with a couple of tough catches--one where he caught the ball on the sideline and took a hard hit but still managed to hold on to the ball and maintain possession. Virgil is a very aggressive blocker--someone who I saw drive his defender until the very end of the play.

Overall

I have seen the future and it is good. It was a thing of beauty how Adam Gase went to 12 personnel when the Broncos were having issues with the edge rush and how it effectively shut it down. These two shifted in and out of motion to opposite sides of the formation, making blocks, and remaining so disciplined in their movement as to not cause an illegal procedure penalty. If for some reason Dreessen and Tamme could not start the season, I would feel totally comfortable with this tandem getting the start.

OL

I didn't focus enough on individual players, unless they caught my attention for the wrong reasons. Before I get into the player that stood out for the worse, I have to say that until the Broncos get Clady back and get some stability along the front, this offense is going to sputter and struggle to stay in rhythm. What I saw against the starting Niners D-line was terrible. No push upfront, no running lanes, no time for deeper patterns down the field, penalties, hurry after hurry, it was bad.

And on the top of my bad list goes 6th round pick Vinston Painter. I know of two sacks he allowed for sure and there might have been more, he definitely allowed more pressures. In my notes I marked down #70 and had to check who it was after the 3rd terrible pass blocking attempt he made. On this particular play, he had a terrible base stance, reached out which gave him terrible leverage, which allowed a speed rusher to bull and overpower him to his back before wrapping up Oz for the sack. This guy is practice squad bound for sure--way too raw to make the active roster at least at this point.

71 also made it into my notes for the wrong reasons. T Paul Cornick also gave up pressures from the edge.

For that matter, pray that Ryan Clady heals up fine and faces no setbacks because Chris Clark almost got Peyton killed by Aldon Smith off the edge.

WR

Didn't focus on individual players here either, except Tavarres King made it into my notes on a couple of occasions. On the first, he totally whiffed on a downfield block on a WR screen to the flat. On the other, he caught a nice ball from the slot and wiggled inside for an extra couple of yards and a first down. I vaguely remember a play in the redzone at the end of the game where the play should have went for a first down but a hesitation and a slip stopped it one yard short. Not sure who this was but I'm pretty sure it was the play that ended up setting Anderson's failed 4th and 1 attempt.

Defense

DL

The starting group of Wolfe, Sly, Vickerson/Knighton, and Ayers was absolutely pushed around by the Niners front. The Niners have a killer line for sure, but I was very disappointed by the beef in the middle. On a personnel note, Sly got the most snaps with the other two big men rotating the first couple of drives. He also caused one false start from their RG because of his quick first step--something to keep an eye on going forward. The Niners RB's had good holes to run through and good running lanes. They chewed up almost half of the first quarter on their first drive. Once the reserves came in, they fared better.

The line still seemed to get more pressure from the edge as I can only remember a few instances later in the game with Mitch Unrein where the DT pushed the pocket straight back. With the edge, rookie Quanterus Smith got some pressure from the left edge on the Niners reserve QB. Shaun Phillips had a few pressures and also scooped up the forced fumble by Nate Irving (more on this later). Phillips also looked a bit out of shape, sucking wind on the very first series. Malik Jackson had a few pressures as well.

I'll pay better attention to this position group the next time around.

LB

The first thing I noted was Stewart Bradley as the Mike and not Nate Irving. It threw me for a loop, but I also remember that with the possible suspension of Von Miller for the first few games, and Irving's experience as the backup Sam last year that perhaps this was also to prepare the team for this possibility. Anyway some 5-2 defense to begin the game with Bradley and Trevathan as the LB's (I'm not sure that WW played--if he did it was only a few snaps). Also predictably, the Niners went after our LB's with the pass. Bradley gave up a first down over the middle on pretty good/tight coverage, and then gave up a big gain on a crosser.

We better accept this fact right now. None of the starting MLB candidates are suitable in coverage--though they may be upgrades on Joe Mays. This is still an issue and teams like SF will give us problems.

On that note there were a few surprises, Trevathan PI when he got beat down the seam. Von Miller still lacks in coverage. Was sucked down the line on playaction with Vernon Davis coming out the opposite way for an easy catch and first down. Von looked a little slow to me. He had issues on the edge against a few LaMichael James runs, and also trouble tracking down Kaepernick on a beautiful inside spin move that flushed the QB out of the pocket. Not what I expected at all.

Oh, I saw it coming a million miles away. This is preseason, the Broncos are running a vanilla scheme. If we face this team in the future, especially on 3rd and long (or any other team with a mobile QB for that matter) expect us to use a spy. Man free is a no no against a scrambling QB, and Colin made us pay for it tonight.

When Von came out after that first series and Irving replaced him at the SAM, he absolutely lit up the ball carrier in the backfield, slicing through the gap before a blocker even knew what hit him. I think we will be fantastic in run support and make do with blitzes in different spots if Von has to serve a suspension--that is definitely one brightspot I see. On another play, Irving came up in coverage and sacked the QB as he was flushed to his right side. Another savvy play and decision by the young player.

DB's

Duke with a TFL, Duke with a tip in pass coverage, Duke with a tackle in run support, Duke forced fumble....Duke Duke Duke. This kid is for real! He had his nose around the ball making plays the entire time he was in the game. He's a starter now, and he'll be just as good in coverage as he is in run support, as he is in playmaking ability. He's a keeper.

Bolden had a mixed day. On a short comback route near the goalline, he overpursued the receiver and allowed an easy first down on what should have been a no gain. On a called blitz, he showed beautiful timing but also managed to take a bad line and run himself out of the play on what should have been a sure sack. He had a nice leaping pass break up on the left sideline, and also played some terrible zone coverage along with Mario Butler on a deep pass to the middle of the field during the 2-minute drill before halftime. He flashes that ability, just isn't quite sound enough in his technique or execution.

The only time Jammer made it into my notes, he got lost in zone coverage as the deep safety and allowed a reception he shouldn't have.

I noticed Bruton have good recognition in zone coverage against a deep crossing route, broke on the play and disrupted the pass. Mike Adams made a nice play coming from deep centerfield to pick off a rainbow.

Kayvon Webster got beat down the seam near the end of the game when the Niners were marching for the potential go ahead score. He got turned around with bad leverage. He also made a nice play diving for a tipped throw to make an INT.

All in all, am very happy with the 4 forced turnovers.

Special Teams

Colquitt: some nice punts that could have been downed by the coverage units.

Prater: Hopefully his make from 46 (I believe) is the start of a new trend whereby he's automatic from this range

Bolden/Irving/Bruton: All made great tackles on coverage units

Holliday: I'll give him a pass on fielding a kick from the 1. If you remember last year Jim Leonard was the guy with those responsibilities because Trindon was not trusted. I'm guessing he was told to field the punts deep in Broncos territory as live practice run to show he is capable of fielding back there without fumbling the ball.

I will not give him a pass for being horse collared by the Punter;)

Thats all I have MHR, hopefully between your own viewing experience, as well as the work done by BigPete, Scotty, Kyle, and myself, you have a pretty clear picture of the Broncos first preseason game. If you have any questions--shoot!

GO BRONCOS!!!

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