Football is finally here! I'm pumped for the season and like many of you am feeling quite optimistic about our team (who isn't at this time of year outside of joke town and cleveland?). Lest our optimism and kool-aid sipping get out of hand, I thought I'd give some no bull advice as we prep for Friday's game.
What to expect
Let's understand a few things off the bat about game one of the preseason:
1) The game plan is going to be vanilla on both sides of the ball
Kubiak won't pull out the big bag of tricks in this game. He'll run his base offense for more than 90% of the snaps on both sides of the ball. Unlike Pete Carrol, who takes preseason much too seriously. Don't expect fun trick plays, constant blitzing, or fake special teams plays.
Here's the Broncos' first 2015 depth chart
The Denver Broncos released their first depth chart of 2015, in advance of their 2015 preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks. Here it is in its entirety, as well as initial reactions and analysis.
2) Evaluation is the major focus of the game
The Denver coaches are going to want to see what players do in situations "that matter" against a different team than their own. There are several personnel areas that need some intense scrutiny for starting personnel and depth. I'd list those in no particular order as Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Tight Ends / Full Backs, and Running Backs.
3) Player safety is also a focus
We'll see the starters for probably a quarter and some change. Then it will be our back ups largely. There are far too many high talent players on the roster to risk injury against a try hard preseason team.
What to look for and what to ignore
As I mentioned above, I'd encourage the more hard-core football fans to watch the line play on both sides of the ball. We have tons of questions about how well the O-Line will work, but I'd argue that the play of the front 7 on the defense is going to be just as important.
Key players I'll be watching here:
- Ty Sambrailo
- Sylvester Williams
- Malik Jackson
- Todd Davis
- Max Garcia
Cornerback depth play
We have a lot of young talent at corner and a bunch of somewhat seasoned guys on the roster behind our clear starting-caliber corners (Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Bradley Roby). Tony Carter is on the bubble against some rookie corners who have been really hit and miss so far in training camp in Taurean Nixon and Lorenzo Doss. One thing you can see in preseason action is cornerback talent. Guys getting scored on usually make glaring mistakes in technique in vanilla schemes.
Running Back depth play
Make sure to start largely ignoring running back play once the defense puts their scrubs in. Granted, this is a Pete Carrol team, so that may not happen until the 4th quarter, but it should be a caution for Broncos Country nonetheless. I don't think a lot of stuff can happen in preseason game one this year that will shake up the running back depth much.
I would mostly ignore this entirely. Manning looks great? It doesn't mean anything. Manning looks terrible? That doesn't mean anything either. Keep the above insights in mind: vanilla schemes.
Likewise, Brock isn't going to have the 1st string O-Line in front of him. Don't read too much into his play if you see the same stuff we saw last season: tons of pressure causing him to break down because his line can't make their blocks. That being said, if he does get good protection, I would like to see him making progressive reads as I've rarely seen that from him in the little action we've seen from him since he was drafted.
Finally, every year people get excited when our 3rd or 4th string QB makes plays. Its all bull. Don't care what our scrub rooks do late in the game against a bunch of bubble talent NFL players.
Thoughts so far on what we've seen in training camp:
- I'm absolutely not surprised to see Chris Clark at left tackle on the depth chart. It is his forte. He sucks at right tackle. Peyton Manning is an amazing quarterback. Water is wet. No amount of contrary analysis will change the reality of this situation.
- Count me surprised that Ty Sambrailo is seriously appearing to be our starting left tackle plan to replace Ryan Clady. I'm pumped for the kid. I hope he continues to handle drinking from the fire hose well and will be looking for continued growth as the season progresses.
- I'm also VERY surprised to see Marvin Austin Jr. take a huge step back this year. I'm not sure what is going on with the guy as I really thought he would be pushing for a starting spot instead of fighting to make the roster.
- I'll believe Connor Barth has improved his kickoff ability to an acceptable level when I see it in real games consistently. Count me skeptical here.
- I don't think we'll get to judge free safety play much due to schemes, but I'm very curious to see what we have in Darian Stewart. I still think free safety is our shakiest depth area on the team.
- I'm pretty jazzed to hear so many good things about Kenny Anunike. We need talent at DE moving forward outside of Wolfe and Jackson.
- Darius Kilgo is another really pleasant surprise. I was excited when we drafted him, but to see him making an impact so quickly is really awesome for our defense.
- I'm really hoping that Andre Caldwell looks completely inept in the preseason games as that appears to be the only way we can salvage the roster spot he'll be taking.
What do you guys think? What angles are you interested in? What's the over/under on number of injured Broncos due to try hard dirty hits by the sea chickens? Let me know in the comments.