When you are the defending Super Bowl champions, defending your title with dignity and honor is a must.
The Denver Broncos proved why they are the defending Gods of the Gridiron and did in tenacious style, shutting out the Chicago Bears 22-0 in their Week 1 preseason opener. It was an eccentric victory for the Broncos, who scored on offense, defense and special teams to secure victory Thursday night.
Total domination and the type of grand evisceration fans all over Broncos Country were waiting for since the confetti rained down at the end of Super Bowl 50.
Chicago gained positive yardage on just 27 of 48 plays. 44 percent of their plays (21 of 48) were for no gain or losses.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 12, 2016
There was no Super Bowl hangover for the Broncos, whose defensive unit in its entirety pummeled the Bears offense over and over throughout the night. Their ferocious defense didn’t miss a beat. First-string, second-string, third-string — it didn’t matter. They all came to play. Each and every single one of them.
They amassed seven sacks and limited the Bears offense to 130 total yards and only 8 first downs for the entire game. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips was masterful in his defensive orchestration, reminding the rest of the league that he prefers to play chess while the rest of the NFL participates in checkers.
The Broncos can win a lot of games this season with such demonstrable efficacy in all three facets of the game, regardless of who their starting quarterback is.
So how about those Broncos quarterbacks? All and all, "Not too shabby."
Mark Sanchez had the offensive highlight play of the game, delivering a beautiful long 32 yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, who took advantage of busted coverage to put Denver on the board with their first possession. He followed up that impressive drive with a poor interception into heavy coverage, but finished the night with completing 10/13 passes for 99 yards and the aforementioned touchdown and interception.
Second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian had his moments as well and finished his quarter of play going 7/12 for 88 yards. He was able to connect with multiple receivers, but showed an affinity for third-year wideout Cody Latimer who at one point in time reeled in three consecutive passes from the former Northwestern quarterback. Siemian attempted three long balls in left corner of the end zone to Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor and Latimer -- but were all broken up by Bears rookie cornerback Dieondre' Hall.
Rookie first-round pick Paxton Lynch was at the helm for the entire second half and after a shaky first series, showed the poise, decision making and athleticism he was highly touted for coming out of Memphis. He was 6/7 on the evening for a total of 74 yards, but had multiple strikes called back due to offensive penalties.
There is no question that Lynch is the future at quarterback for the squad, and if he improves upon his performance against the Bears and masters the intricacies and X's and O's of the position, he most certainly could be leading the team into battle sometime during the 2016 season.
Overall, tonight's game was a great team win and a tremendous way to start off the new season. There were no significant injuries of note and a myriad of players stepped up and took advantage of the opportunities they were given. One thing is certain, with a team this deep there will be no easy cuts, and the Broncos brass will have a lot of thinking to do in preparation of getting their roster down to the best 53 men to give it their all every week.
As always, thank you for reading and here are some of my miscellaneous takes from the game.
Hart’s Quick Hits:
- Rookie receivers Khalif Raymond and Bralon Addison manned return duties for the Broncos. Raymond had one kick-off return for 26 yards and Addison had one for 23 yards. Raymond averaged 10 yards on his three punt returns and Addison averaged 13 on his two returns.
- Cody Latimer deserves praise for an outstanding preseason performance. He was targeted often by Siemian and Lynch and caught 7 passes for 82 yards. Hopefully the third season is the charm and Latimer puts it all together to be an impact performer for the Broncos in 2016.
- Expect to see a lot of Virgil Green in 2016. He was clearly a a focal point of the offense early on and was a favorite target for Mark Sanchez. Green had three catches for 26 yards, but most importantly, two of them went for first downs in third down situations.
- Second-year nose tackle Darius Kilgo was impressive, holding his own at the point of attack and routinely gave the linebackers behind him a chance to make plays. He left the game in the third quarter due to injury, but walked off the field on his own.
- Any criticism in the Broncos' shutout victory over the Bears can be directed at the offensive line. Neither of the three units looked good and all had various issues in regard to penalties and lack of discipline that stalled or negatively impacted drives.
- Kapri Bibbs saw extensive action running the ball in the second half. The former Colorado State Ram had a handful of successful runs and finished the evening with 53 yards on 12 carries.
- You might have not heard of linebacker Vontarrius Dora before tonight, but the Louisiana Tech product notched two sacks in spot duty early in the game. The Broncos are loaded at the outside linebacker position with Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett — but if he keeps on making plays like he did in the preseason opener, they may have to find a way to stash him on the roster. At the very least, Dora seems to be a prime candidate for the practice squad who has the ability to forge himself into a quality NFL player with diligence and dedication to his craft.
- Rookie safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks looked fluid and sound in coverage. Parks also had a sack on a safety blitz in the second half. These two young defenders should have a bright future here in Denver.
- Fans might be worried about Malik Jackson's departure and who will step up to fill the void at his position, but free agent acquisition Jared Crick looked tremendous in his first game as a Bronco. Between Crick, Vance Walker and rookie Adam Gotsis, there will be more than enough bodies and talent to replace his production this coming season.