I didn't get to watch this until last night and probably will either miss next week's game or be in the same boat so my apologies for not having this out earlier. Let's dig in though and chew on what we can from our preseason week 2 game.
The biggest bull
Let me start this off with a real big gripe. Where the heck was the Kubiak offense when Manning was in the game? That didn't look anything like our power running zone scheme being used to grind the opposing team into the dirt while well placed play action blew the roof off. Instead, that looked like the same Manning offense we've seen for 3 years: no huddle, audible based, and lots of passes.
I will not let this disturb my calm quite so much yet as it is the preseason. Maybe this was just us playing our cards close to the vest so as not to give away our hand yet. Maybe it was "situational practice" so that Manning could see what worked well in that scheme. Maybe we are just trying to get some work in with Demaryius Thomas (who looked rusty) and Owen Daniels (who looked average). I'm not sure but I'm hoping we see something very different come week 1.
Quarterbacks not named Manning
I liked what I saw from both Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian. I liked the offense they were running. They both threw the ball well. Both of them made really great TD passes with some serious touch on the throws. I like that both were calm, collected, and cool.
There were multiple times in this game where Oz was looking off the safety which was a big gripe I had with him from last preseason. His passes at the short and intermediate were more accurate than last year as well. For two weeks running he's had really good form from a throwing standpoint. His interception was a real "Welcome to the NFL" moment. He has to learn to account for the linebackers on his timing short routes. If he doesn't, he will cost us pick 6s just like that. One time does not make a pattern, though so I'd encourage everyone to cut the guy some slack.
Siemian is a rookie. Rookies are supposed to be nervous and look shaky in their first NFL action as a football tradition. Siemian doesn't give two flying @#$^s about your traditions. He chews chunks of iron and spits out nails for fun. Seriously though: I know he was playing against the scrubs...I'm the king of pointing that out to people in the preseason. But this is how a good football player looks when he's playing against scrubs. Count me impressed.
The running backs get more work with mixed results
We saw more solid output from our running backs for the most part. When we actually decided to use the running game it was mostly consistently good. There was more than one short yardage play that had me scratching my head on the play calling. Why do we bring in this running system and not use it? Chalk that up to more "situational preseason practice" I guess.
C.J. Anderson got decent results against some stiff competition. Some may think that he's in danger of losing his starting role, but I'm not one of them.
Ronnie Hillman tore it up much like last week. He has a 2nd gear that the other backs haven't shown us yet this year and I am loving it. That being said, he has yet to show me that he can be consistently impactful AND healthy over the course of a season. I really like him more as a counter-punch back to keep defenses off balance.
Monte Ball really looked like junk in this game. This was the type of game I saw from him at the start of last season: indecisive, slow to react, not able to shake tackles or make the first guy miss. 4 rushs for 4 yards with a long of 4 yards says it all. That's worse than Trent Richardson, son. Step it up!
Juwan Thompson looked better to me than he did against Seattle. It helped that he had a really big run with a 5 yard gap to run through. Outside of that, I did like the power I saw from him. Maybe I'm nostalgic, but I thought he looked better last year honestly.
The line still holds
Outside of a dumb penalty by Ty Sambrailo and Ryan Harris getting his lunch money stolen on a run play, I mostly liked what I saw from the starting offensive line. Manning had plenty of time to throw. The running backs got some lanes (when we deigned to actually run the ball). Of the starters, Paradis and Garcia stood out to me in a good way.
The backup line honestly blew me away. Up and down I saw good stuff. They really made some pretty killer stuff happen in the run game. For a great example, check that big run by Juwan Thompson...both Ben Garland and Gino Gradkowski plowed their guys on the left really well while Shelley Smith blew through to the 2nd level to block the LB. Michael Schofield looked good in every facet as well (I'm just excited to actually see more of him in action).
Quicks hits on offense
- Jordan Norwood really did a bang-up job of shooting himself in the foot in this game. His drops were tough to swallow.
- Andre Caldwell is going to do enough to make the team which will make me sad. That play never happens against a starting NFL CB in the regular season. The CB there went flat footed on a juke for an out route that made no sense whatsoever (he had outside technique on the coverage).
- Virgil Green had some uncharacteristic sloppy blocking in the run game. I'm starting to wonder if he's been focusing too much on his pass game...
- James Casey dropped a cake-walk pass on 3rd and short. You can't ask for the ball to be placed much better than that...Bronco up and catch that ball son!
- I was so excited to see us do a QB sneak for a 3rd and short. Then I got depressed knowing that we will never do that with Manning starting.
- I'm liking Bennie Fowler to make the team this year. He runs smooth routes and catches the ball well.
The pass rush is real
Big props for Shaquil Barrett in week 2. He looked more Von Miller than Von Miller did. His speed around the side was phenomenal and I can't wait to see what he does next week.
Shane Ray also again looked very good. He's got motor, quicks, and he played the run very well.
Sylvester Williams should get an award for that spin move he made. It was completely filthy to see from a large man on the inside.
Having a scheme that attacks is awesome from a defensive standpoint. Having serious depth with talented pass rushers is filthy. Wade Phillips is going to be able to scheme all kinds of madness for opposing teams to deal with.
Not much to glean from the coverage units
One thing that stuck out to me in this game was the vast amounts of zone coverage I saw in the back end of most plays. We seemed to be using that most of the time with very little man schemes thrown in. I really do think this is more of an effort by our defense to not give away what we should see from our man coverage schemes.
That being said, I loved seeing Chris Harris, Jr. looking like himself. You can throw on him, but you aren't going to get any significant yards. His run support was awesome as well.
I liked that from Aqib Talib, too. Having corners that are willing and able tacklers is such a great boon to have in the NFL.
Quick hits on defense
- Brandon Marshall looked like a beast again just like last season. If he can stay healthy, he'll be a household name this season.
- Bradley Roby looked like he's tailoring his game after CHJ. That's not a bad thing at all.
- I liked what I saw from Derek Wolfe in run stopping...but then again, I almost always do.
- Todd Davis also stuck out from the ILB group. He's the real deal and should provide solid depth for the team this year if he doesn't start.
- Darius Kilgo is the real deal. If he keeps putting in the work he is going to have a very bright future in the NFL.
- Kayvon Webster looked like the real deal too. His blitz was gorgeous and his coverage was very tight.
If Brandon McManus can show another solid week of work next game, I think you'll see him as our starter in week 1. He's got a huge leg and so far (knock on wood) his accuracy is ten times better than last year's body of work.
Big props to the kick coverage teams. They didn't have many opportunities to return anything (that big leg makes a difference), but when they did, the lane discipline was great and we did a solid job of cutting off all the angles for the returner.