Every year, both fans and the MSM focus on potential when watching preseason games. Some teams (Indianapolis) rarely win during the preseason, only to march on to win their division during the regular season.
With injuries, holdouts, newly signed free-agents, new coaching staffs and rookies, the preseason games are only going to be so valuable when trying to predict the upcoming season.
However, there are some elements of each team that do carry over into the regular season. Here is a look at Denver's last two preseasons with data detailing only the performance by the starters.
In 2010, Denver's biggest question marks on offense were at the wide receiver and offensive line positions. Marshall had been traded, and Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris were recovering from injuries.
On defense, Dumervil was gone for the season, and there were gaping holes across the linebacker and defensive line position. The secondary was also aging, even though Champ still put together an excellent season.
Here is a chart detailing their performance in the 2010 Preseason (Weeks 1-3)
They played Cincinnati (4-12 in 2010 Regular Season), Detroit (6-10), Pittsburgh (12-4)
|3rd/4th Dwn %||13-19||3rd/4th Dwn %||9-17|
|Points Scored||38||Points All||26|
|Rush Att||25||Rush Att||36|
|Rush Yards||67||Rush Yards||154|
|Pass Plays||51||Pass Plays||57|
|Pass Yards||324||Pass Yards||356|
Here a few key notes:
- Denver had very little balance, running the ball on only 32.9 percent of their plays.
- As a result, Denver had an embarrassing 2.7 YPC, and only managed 1 rushing touchdown.
- While Denver's passing game was responsible for 4 touchdowns, Orton was inconsistent and averaged a very poor 6.4 yards per attempt.
- The most amazing stat is Denver's impressive 68.4 percent conversion rate on third and fourth downs. This had the most positive effect on Denver's scoring total.
- Denver's opponents weren't exactly balanced in their attack either, with a run percentage of 38.7 percent. For many teams, the preseason is the time where teams test their quarterbacks, leading to a spike in passing plays.
- Denver was mediocre at defending the run, although their performance in the preseason was more respectable than in the regular season, where Denver went from allowing 4.3 YPC to 4.7 YPC.
- Denver's biggest achievement was holding their opponents to field goals (4 to be exact) instead of touchdowns. Although they allowed Cincinnati, Detroit and Pittsburgh to move the ball relatively easily at 5.5 yards per play, they stood tall near the red zone and forced field goals instead of touchdowns. Unfortunately, that did not carry over into the regular season.
- Finally, Denver struggled to force many punts. Their opponents converted their third and fourth downs 52.9 percent of the time.
|3rd/4th Dwn %||8-16||3rd/4th Dwn %||5-16|
|Points Scored||34||Points All||9|
|Rush Att||38||Rush Att||25|
|Rush Yards||145||Rush Yards||95|
|Pass Plays||45||Pass Plays||46|
|Pass Yards||388||Pass Yards||95|
- Denver averaged 6.4 yards per play on offense, compared to 5.1 in 2010. Denver scored 1 less touchdown, but 1 more field goal.
- The biggest difference is Denver's ability to run the ball effectively. Even though they have only averaged 3.8 yards per carry (compared to 2.7 in 2010), so many of their attempts have come in short yardage situations. With a run percentage of 45.8, Denver has a much more balanced offense.
- Not to be outdone, Denver has had a great passing performance, averaging 8.6 yards per attempt with Orton under center. While there is little chance he will duplicate that kind of number for the regular season, it will be much easier to have a high average when the running game is present.
- Finally, Denver has been able to score because of 50.0 percent conversion percentage on third and fourth downs.
- As good as Denver has been on offense, their defense has been even better. Aside from only allowing 9 points compared to 26 last preseason, Denver has done what good defenses do - dominate bad offenses. While Dallas did march down for an opening field goal, Denver has still been awesome, allowing 2.8 yards per play. Although there no chance that happens in the regular season, Denver has improved from last year, where they allowed 5.5 yards per play during the preseason and 5.9 yards per play during the regular season.
- This has been talked about a ton this off-season, but Denver really struggled defending the run. Even with questions revolving around the defensive line and lack of depth (and health) at the defensive tackle positions, Denver has done well considering. Felix Jones and Fred Jackson had some success against the Broncos, but overall, Denver was able to limit the rushers to 3.8 yards per carry. This is a significant improvement from a year ago.
- If being more stingy against the run wasn't enough, Denver has limited one good quarterback and made two others look awful. Denver's starters are only allowing an average of 2.1 yards per pass attempt. That is unheard of, not just on a few possessions, but 14. This is the Von Doom effect. Their presence has been felt a little in the running game, but so far, they have destroyed the opponents ability to pass the ball.
- As expected, Denver's improved pass rush has led to a good defensive effort, only allowing a conversion on third and fourth down 31.3 percent of the time. This is one of the biggest improvements from last year, where Denver just could not get off the field.