One down, three to go for the Broncos this preseason. The Broncos defeated the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers 10 - 6. It was a sloppy game as one would expect for the first preseason game, but there was a lot of positives in this game. Lets take a look at who helped their stock and who hurt their stock.
Wow. I read all the reports raving about Duke. Read how he was all over the field, having a nose for the ball and making big hits all over the field. Nacho lived up to those expectations. Duke who played a little over a quarter finished the game with 7 total tackles and a forced fumble.
To me there's no question that he is the starter. I have been saying that Rahim Moore was the best safety "by far" on the roster. I have have to change that. Moore AND Duke are the two best safeties on the roster. I am excited to see what he can do from here on out
Keep on the defensive theme here, but Nate Irving caught my eye. I was disappointed to see that he wasn't starting at Inside Backer during the Niners first series(more on that later) but he sure made his mark throughout the game. Irving was credited with 4 tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble It seemed like he made more plays then that though. Irving blew up a run in the backfield that lead to a fumble and the only touchdown of the game. Shaun Phillips recovered the fumble and took it to the house
It'd be curious to see why Irving wasn't starting in the middle, and saw most of his action at outside linebacker. This strong performance should put him back with the number one defense. I think we have a solid player in Irving.
The defense from the 1's to the 3's looked pretty good. Yes the Niners 1 offense did go down the field, but the defense held them to 3 points. The Pass rush looked good for the 1's too. Miller, Ayers and Wolfe all could have had sacks if the QB wasn't Colin Kaepernick.
Overall the Broncos created 4 turnovers on defense. Two forced fumbles and two interceptions from Mike Adams and rookie Kayvon Webster. The Broncos defense also did not allow a touchdown. So overall a good showing from this group.
Like Duke Ihenacho, Thomas had a lot of raving reports about his performance in camp. Like Nacho, he did not disappoint. Thomas started with the ones and looked good. He finished the game with a team high 4 catches for 35 yards in limited action. Thomas also saw time as a blocker.
Thomas is your starting TE this year. It's good to see him on the field and making plays. He looked like a legitimate option for the Broncos in the passing game. The same Broncos passing game that has the great Peyton Manning distributing the ball to the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker. Add in the big athletic Thomas? Wow, good job trying to stop that NFL defenses.
While on twitter i saw a few "who?" when Anderson took over in the second half, but at the end of the night Bronco fans now know the name of the undrafted rookie. Anderson was by far the best back on the team tonight. Anderson finished with 15 carries for 69 yards. Yes Anderson was going against the 2nd and 3rd team defenses, so that should be noted, but the fact that he performed well bodes well for the rookie.
I was excited to watch Anderson and listed him as a "Dark Horse" in the running back position battle. He did not disappoint and i'm excited to see how he builds off this performance.
Brock is another one of those guys who are enjoying a strong training camp. Tonight he made the best of a bad situation. Brock finished the game with 13/18(72% completion percentage) for 105 yards. Brock was continuously under pressure from the Niners defense but showed good patience and nice pocket awareness to make some plays.
For me it was hard to truly gauge Osweilers performance because of the offensive lines poor play. I'd like to see him with the 1's and see how he does. He does look much improved from his rookie year though. Maybe Brock can really be the future of the Broncos.
Injuries: The Broncos made it out of the game healthy. One of my personal worries during the preseason is injuries to key players in a meaningless game. Thankfully the Broncos made it out completely healthy. So good news there.
A Win: Yes it's a "meaningless" Victory, but the Broncos are well on their way to be the first team to finish 23-0!
Football is back!: Just preseason football, but it was nice to finally be able to watch some football again. Especially our own Denver Broncos.
Other Notables: Malik Jackson, Special Teams play, Robert Ayers and Mike Adams
While watching the only drive by the Niners 1st team offense I noticed one Broncos player continuously standing out, and not for good reasons. Bradley was being targeted by the Niners offense it seemed. A few passing plays went his way and to the man he was covering, a few good runs up the middle where he should be making stops. Maybe i'm being unfair, but i did not like what i saw.
I think Nate Irving should be starting, and he showed why he should be tonight. I'm not sure if the Broncos wanted to see what Bradley could do with the 1's or what, but lets hope he doesn't stay there.
Second and Third team offensive line:
It seems like i have typed "second and third team offensive lines" under losers after a preseason game for the past 3 years. It looked bad. Running backs didn't have many lanes to run in, and were usually met by multiple defenders in the backfield when they got the handoff.
Yes i understand that the broncos are banged up on the O-Line, and when they get Clady, Kuper, Walton back, and get Lilja back into form that the line will look better. Tonight though, very bad.
Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball:
Tonight i was looking for one of these guys to separate themselves from the pack. Unfortunately neither did that. Hillman finished the night with 3 carries for 9 yards and Ball with 5 carries for 9 yards.
Yes i understand they were facing a very good Niners defense and Ball was behind a poor offensive line, but it was a disappointing night, at least i thought so. I'd like to see a strong performance from one of these guys(ideally both) next week.
It wasn't a good night for the Broncos offense. The first team offense, all be it one series didn't look overly impressive. Probably my expectations were a bit too high, but i was hoping to see more from Manning and company. Outside of Osweiler, Anderson and Thomas no one else on the offense really stood out to me all that well. I'm hoping to see more from these guys next week against a tough Seattle team.
49ers Broadcast: They weren't terrible, but man i hate watching Broncos games on the opposing teams telecast. Way too much 49er homerism for my liking.