One down, 19 pre-season/regualr season games to go. First and foremost let me apologize for my lack of live-game blogging. I can venture in to excuses but no need, I value my readers too much to bore you with it. I did TIVO the game and will have reviewed the entire thing for a full report on MHR Radio tomorrow.
I was able to catch the entire 2nd Half, and based on solely those 30 minutes, played mostly by 2nd and 3rd teamers, I was able to form some opinions --
The defense is as deep as it has been in years -- Yes, there were breakdowns, especially in the first half, but as a unit this group is very deep, especially up-front and in back. Two goal-line stands in the 4th quarter to seal the win was impressive, even for the Pre-Season, and let's face it, like Herm Edwards said, "You play to win the game..." and the Broncos certainly did that. While there are questions that remain at linebacker, Nate Webster(8 tackles) and Louis Green (5 tackles) appear ready to do the job when called upon. Four sacks as a unit was nice to see from the D-Line.
Tim Crowder is the best rookie on the team -- Jarvis Moss has the chance to be electric, but if down by down consistency is what you are after then Crowder is yoour man. Showed solid moves and good pursuit, just like on the video in the Diary Section. The stat-book will only say 2 Tackles and 1 sack, but Crowder was disruptive all night.
Domenik Hixon can play, period -- Again, the stat sheet says 1 reception for 21 yards, but Hixon made a disruptive force, drawing two penalties and nearly making a catch while getting dragged down on a crucial third down(are any pre-season 3rd downs considered crucial??). I know I am a big supporter of Hixon, but you see him on the field, running routes, and think this guy just looks like a NFL receiver. The situation at receiver for the Broncos behind Javon Walker is wide open and Hixon is making the most of the opportunity.
The Broncos are a dominant running team again -- Perhaps what I am most excited about is the play of the running backs and offensive line in the run game. The Broncos threw the ball only 17 times, gaining 88 total yards, but were pretty unstoppable on the ground. Travis Henry showed a glimpse of what the Broncos can expect and I re-affirm my prediction, 1500 yards, 15 TDs. Mike Bell and Cecil Sapp ran hard, with purpose. Even Selvin Young, the rookie from Texas, showed why some think he could be the next guy to come out of no-where to succedd in this offense. As a team, the Broncos ran the ball 35 times for 185 yards(5.2 avg) and take away two ill-fated runs by Darrell Hackney, the number jumps to 5.7 ypc. If the Broncos are able to be that effective on a week to week basis they are going to beat up alot of defensive units.
The O-Line looks fine -- Officially the group gave up only 1 sack, and all three quarterbacks had time to throw all night. Not bad for playing without two starters. I do think it is safe to say that Montrae Holland has the inside track on a starting spot and has impressed with his agility and quickness for a man that is bigger than most Broncos lineman. Think George Foster, only alot better. Alot beteter. Erik Pears played well and Adam Meadows even showed that he has a bit left in the tank. I feel alot better about this unit today than I did 24 hours ago.
Gotta get off the field -- As expected, there were some negatives, most notably the defenses inability to get off the field. The Niner's finished the night 7/16 on 3rd down, 1/3 on 4th down. 8/19(42%) just won't get it done, and can wear this defense down like it did last season. Sure, I like the fact that the Defense held strong, but all those minutes add up. The Broncos won games ealry in the season like this, but it caught up to them in the end. Giving up 370 yards, staying on the field for over 35 minutes is a recipe for disaster, pre-season or not. Definitely something I will be keeping my eye on as the Pre-Season and Regular Season move forward.
That's my first take. Please feel free to give your review, either in the comments section, or better yet, in your own Diary.