Before we talk about Brandon Marshall the linebacker, let's take a look at what PFF noted about the Denver Broncos performance in routing the San Francisco 49ers, 34-0.
The first item was a seemingly complete lack of a pass rush by the Broncos and this was something I saw with my own eyes as well. In fact, when a sack finally happened late in the game, I recalled saying it was about time that happened. There were a few close calls, but against dynamically mobile quarterbacks, this is where Von Miller's absence really becomes noticeable. Getting him back is going to be a difference maker for this defense.
The Broncos’ defense did not have as much success rushing the passer against the 49ers as they did against the Seahawks last week. 49er quarterbacks were pressured on just 19.4% of their drop-backs (seven of 36), compared to 42% versus Seattle.
34-0 shutout Game Balls
The Broncos knocked out and shut out the 49ers 34-0 in preseason action Sunday. That means the Broncos won!
This poor pass rush should have resulted into some huge scoring plays for the 49ers, but thankfully for us, the 49ers quarterbacks from Colin Kaepernick on down the depth chart just couldn't connect when the Broncos defensive backfield faltered. This was backed up by PFF's grading of the quarterbacks, with Kaepernick logging a -1.4 grade and Blaine Gabbert a -2.0. Gabbert just doesn't look like a quarterback in this league at all. The third and fourth string quarterbacks were not much better with -2.0 and -2.8 grades respectively.
Meanwhile, the Broncos stable of young running backs should be a cause for concern even if all I read is fans gushing over many of these guys. PFF expressed that concern rather well with this one liner.
Second-year player C.J. Anderson was the only back to force a missed tackle on their combined 29 rush attempts.
That doesn't bode well for the Broncos depth at the position at all. Juwan Thompson's catch and run was impressive, so maybe that is where the gushing is coming from. After Montee Ball, I would put Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson and then maybe Thompson. I just don't see much from the rest of the guys on the roster, unfortunately. Here's to Ball remaining healthy all year long.
So how about Danny Trevathan's backup, Brandon Marshall? Well, BMarsh (can I call him that?) graded out at a +1.4 overall PFF grade last week against the Seattle Seahawks and followed it up with a solid +1.0 overall yesterday with seven tackles and three run stops. His 16.0 run stop percentage for the preseason is about as good as it gets as most linebackers who lead the league in that category end up in the fourteens.
Marshall's play was good enough to get him some media love in the post-game coverage. When asked about him looking comfortable out there, he responded, "It’s all about your preparation. I thought I prepared well. I thought I played pretty decent. I was excited out there. It’s not too often you get a goose egg in preseason or any NFL game. It was great."
A big part of a player's progression from college to professional football is how well the game slows down for them. I imagine that mental aspect of the game has a lot to do with what Marshall alluded to above about preparation. Well, that and facing a Peyton Manning-led offense in practice.
When ask if the game moved fast, Marshall said, "No, it was slow actually. It’s actually faster in practice. Going up against our offense is a challenge in itself every day in practice. Going against other offenses, I won’t say it’s cake, but it’s a little slower."
Linebacker depth was something that truly concerned me heading into this season, so knowing the Broncos have some capable players on the depth chart is rather calming. In fact, Brandon Marshall isn't the only backup linebacker showing he has what it takes to play ball with the one's as Lerentee McCray has been playing solid football in place of Von Miller. The difference with McCray, though, is no one could possibly replace the disruption in the pass rush that Miller creates. It is imperative that the Broncos get back a fully recovered Von Miller for the 2014 season.
My game ball went to Brock Osweiler, but Marshall is a close second. PFF did say something nice about Osweiler's play, at least.
Manning is one of the best at getting rid of the ball quickly, and maybe he is rubbing off on the Broncos’ other quarterbacks. Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert each had a Time To Throw of 2.17 seconds, slightly quicker than Manning’s 2.23 seconds.