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Broncos at Bears: The No Bull Preseason Review

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We take a look at what action happened in the Broncos first game of the season. Opinions, analysis, and ideas on where the team is headed in the latest No Bull Review.

NFL: Preseason-Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to NFL football, Broncos Country! It has been a long, long, offseason, but we have finally arrived at that magical place where there is actual football happening on the field for us to analyze, enjoy, and look for insights into our favorite team.

For those of you who are new to Mile High Report, this is the one and only No Bull Review. I have been doing these for years as a way to dig in and talk about what I see on the field and what kind of conclusions I draw from it in the way of opinions and analysis using first and foremost my two eyes since that is the #1 way for useful information to be gained on this complex game that we love.

Disclaimer: This is only my opinion. I know tons of people out there in society like to get hung up on being right or wrong, but that’s not me. I will be wrong. It will happen. Every time it does, I love it because I get to learn something new. The good thing is I’m right way more often than I am wrong and I have a long standing track record here at MHR. Feel free to read my past reviews for the insights I’ve given.

But enough about me...let’s talk football.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Everyone’s favorite topic lately at MHR has been our Quarterbacks. Let’s start off with this statement:

I’m not pro-Sanchez. I’m not anti-Siemian. I don’t give two turds about if Lynch starts week 1. The only thing I want is for the coaches to put the best option at QB on the field for our team’s success this year.

That answer may change as the season goes on. And so far, my opinion hasn’t changed a whole heck of a lot after one game. After the draft, I told our staff that I think this year’s starter is up for grabs. I thought it was more likely than not to be Sanchez week 1, but that our coaches were going to have a real competition and let a leader step up. That is exactly what we are seeing no matter how many shovel fulls of bull you hear from the Lynchites or Siemianmen.

Mark Sanchez

I mostly liked what I saw from Sanchez in this game. It was no worse than any quarterbacking we had happen in 2015. I thought Sanchez threw a lot of timing routes (no surprise here...that’s the WCO for you) that had good accuracy on his part that helped us move the chains and get in a position to score. The TD pass from him to Demaryius Thomas was a great anticipation throw where he knew by DT’s route and the coverage of the corner, that the corner was beat.

The big thing I didn’t like was the bone-headed INT he threw. It was into double coverage. The corner that tipped it was playing off coverage and watching the QB’s eyes. Sanchez should have recognized this and zipped the pass to the underneath route where the WR could have made the catch toward the sideline safely.

Overall, Sanchez looked like what Sanchez has always looked like: an average QB when given time to throw, but prone to poor decision making as the game wears on. That decision making is the one thing that will cost him the starting job if he doesn’t get it under control. Kubiak will put up with Manning setting records for INT’s per game. but Sanchez will not get the same kind of treatment.

Trevor Siemian

Meh.

I banged the table last year to see Siemian with a better line in front of him. So far, count me unimpressed. He threw some nice passes to be sure, but they were mostly his first reads and he didn’t do much with really great field position.

On a positive note, the announcers did nail it by talking about his arm. I really like the velocity he throws with.

The problem is that the accuracy is not there. His almost TD was a gorgeous back shoulder throw that was on the money. There were others that were not even in the field of play.

I didn’t really see that Siemian did enough in this game to take any steps up in the QB competition.

Paxton Lynch

I can see why John Elway drafted this guy. He’s got good scramble instincts, has a big arm, and throws fairly accurately. I think this guy is going to be very VERY good in the NFL. The question is when?

I didn’t see enough drop back, move through progressions and throw type plays from him. To be fair, that was probably because his linemen sucked at pass blocking.

One frustrating thing I noted was that he had some awful luck as far as successful pass plays happening and getting called back by penalties.

He did get some really nice downfield throws to connect and looked very solid in the playaction game. Also, he showed off really good scrambling ability which means a lot in today’s NFL.

At some point this preseason, I’d like to see Lynch with the 2s. If he’s a real options this year at QB, you can’t just have him play with the scrubs all preseason and expect progress.

I do think overall, Lynch’s play was better than Siemian’s. The only thing I wonder is how much of the offense Lynch has mastered. That’s where you will see a coach keep the lesser player higher on the depth chart because playing the more raw player limits the playbook (AMARITE Tebow!?).

Offensive Line

We didn’t get to see much honest work from our starters given that Okung didn’t play, Michael Schofield was kicked out to LT, and Ty Sambrailo is injured. That being said, I think we’re better off so far this year than we were in 2015. I saw successful pass blocking often enough with the 1s and 2s as well as some good holes opened up in the run game even though we didn’t work the run very much.

Speaking of Schofield, he still doesn’t belong out at tackle. His feet are just too slow as was apparent on a outside zone play where he couldn’t manage to get out of the way of runner which kept us from picking up more yards.

Dillon Day stood out to me at one point getting completely owned which led to a sack later in the game.

Also, I’ll say that that penalty on James Ferentz I doubt gets called in the regular season. He was keeping his dude blocked and handling his job quite well in my opinion.

Tight Ends

Thank you so much Gary Kubiak for getting Virgil Green involved in the passing game. I have liked his ability on the few precious pass attempts he’s gotten every year that he’s been in the league and can’t wait to see him get more opportunities this year. He is a damn smooth route runner who is going to likely see a lot of chains getting moved this year because of his play.

I didn’t get to see a ton of Heuerman, but he did get a very nice route in on the 7th offensive drive of the night that went for good yardage.

Running Backs

While we didn’t do a ton of running, I thought it was a fairly decent outing for the runners. There weren’t an over abundance of runs for 2 or less and all of our runners got some shots.

I was impressed with the work I saw from Devontae Booker in every facet of the game. He looked good catching, blocking, and running. I think if he can improve, he’ll be an even more dangerous back in the ZBS than C.J. Anderson. He just has more glide to him and a little more quickness in his shifting from what I saw.

The other big props I’ll give need to go to Kapri Bibbs. He got a lot of work in the 2nd half and I think he represented himself well. He had runs of more than 5 yards which is what I look for in a good back. If he can keep up this consistency, he’s got a shot at making the team.

Defense

Defensive Line

I just don’t know where else in the NFL you will find a coaching team who gets guys to play such high quality football year in and out than you have here in Denver. Wade Phillips seems to come back to camp every year after pooping out a couple of new options at linemen and all the D-Line does is come in and dominate.

It really is the foundation of our dominating defense today. Runs usually go for 3 yards in the NFL. You are lucky to get 2 on this defense up the middle. Every unit that went out there for the D-Line represented themselves as stewards of the defense.

Jared Crick absolutely looked great in his limited work. He’s definitely got the pass rush piece of things dialed in as he has multiple plays where he blew by his blocker with a very smooth swim move.

I was also as impressed as anyone with Adam Gotsis’s hussle that he showed chasing down a run play that got away from the defense. That dude can hustle and it is an underrated facet of most good linemen’s game in the NFL. If you can’t get after the ball no matter where, you are limiting the effectiveness of the unit overall.

I also liked what I saw from Kilgo. He’s shaping into a very solid option at NT. He still looks to me like a more solid force on the inside than what we’ve seen from Sylvester Williams.

Linebackers

We have an embarrassment of riches at OLB. Our best two were in street clothes on the sideline and these guys were still lighting up poor fools all over the field.

Shane Ray definitely looked quicker to me and more powerful in the limited time he got on the field including a very solid sack off the edge in the first drive. He also helped ruin a screen play on the third drive of the game.

Shaq Barrett also picked up where he left off last year being a complete disruptive force up front. He had a great run stop early and got close to getting a sack at least once from what I saw.

Vontarrius Dora caught my attention with a great sack later in the game. I don’t know where Phillips keeps finding guys that can get after the QB, but they seem to be falling from the sky for the Broncos.

Secondary

T. J. Ward is a friggin boss. He is one of the better blitzers in the league from the safety position and it seems Philips doesn’t mind reminding the NFL of that in preseason, week 1.

I also loved what I saw from Will Parks in this game. When Ward stepped out, I could barely tell other than the number on the jersey, and I hope Parks takes that as a compliment. He showed the same kind of blitz prowess later in the game getting a sack of his own. I also loved his coverage ability in the flat on a blitz where he was one on one with a guy and made the open field tackle with a great angle and superb technique.

On that note, I kinda feel bad for Justin Simmons. He was flying around everywhere being a free safety with very VERY little action coming to him due to our ferocious front 7. That being said, I didn’t even notice Darian Stewart wasn’t in until I saw him on the sidelines. For a rookie, this kid looked good in one preseason game.

The kid that kept sticking out to me from our corner group was Lorenzo Doss. This kid got a ton of work. His play at corner was definitely above average even given his one big mishap on a play action pass that he biffed on. Thankfully Shiloh Keo made a shoestring tackle to clean it up at the sideline.

Closing Thoughts

I’m stoked to see some more action from our team next week. Sadly, I fear the competition isn’t going to be much stiffer. That being said, we should get a clearer picture of the QB battle as I’m betting they are going to get a lot of pass attempts again.

Look for Sanchez and Siemian to get the early game action again, though I feel like if Siemian plays as mediocre looking as he did in this game, Lynch will hop him in the depth chart by week 3.

Now for my favorite part: Hit up the comments. What did you see that stood out for you? Did you see a player making a big impact that wasn’t mentioned? Hit me up in the comments with your observations.