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Broncos vs Rams: The No Bull Preseason Review

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The L.A. Rams came to Denver for a week 3 showdown with the Denver Broncos. Here’s my take on what we saw and my opinions and analysis on the players.

NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I have to say that as much as I was hyped to see our Week 3 preseason action, the fan in me sure was bored to tears with the “action” we saw. It probably had a lot to do with our first two offensive series being all runs.

Also, for whatever reason, it seems like most games I watch in the past few years involving the Rams is a ho-hum affair. They seem to get really good consistent play from their lines which makes for a lot of close games.

Offense

This offense was a whole lot of what we have been used to for all of 2015 from the Denver Broncos: great defense with some spurts of decent run game showing up in between to seal the win.

Quarterbacks

Trevor Siemian

Can I just give both QBs a cow patty and call this review good? They both pretty much sucked, though to be fair, overall Trevor Siemian was the superior QB if the word “superior” could be used in reference to the offensive performance by the team.

That being said, it wasn’t all bad and I had a few good notes on Siemian:

  • Did a solid job situationally drawing the Rams offsides. I like seeing this in a NFL QB.
  • Sold play action fairly well to seal a really easy TD pass
  • Had some fairly accurate throws that were dropped (Knock it off, DT!)

That being said, I felt like he left a lot out there. He overthrew some fairly mediocre NFL passes. His bomb to Latimer was a great gutsy throw, but he underthrew that one a hair (more on that later).

Paxton Lynch

I really felt like Lynch left quite a bit to be desired in this game. His production was low, his accuracy was all over the place, and not a lot of boats around him were being raised.

There’s room here to say he’s just a rookie after all. There’s also room to say that he was playing with the scrubs. Both are fair. At the end of the day though, you aren’t ready to start if your passing looks as poor as it did in this game. I still think this guy is going to more likely than not be something special in the near future at QB for us, but he just needs more seasoning.

Line

If you aren’t worried about the play of our offensive line, you aren’t watching them very closely. Against the Rams’ starters they were completely owned play after play. They got no movement off the ball and opened only slivers of holes for the backs to run through.

Max Garcia looked especially poor on the left side. He honestly looked like a liability which is a step back for him as I thought he looked solid in most of his action last year.

The one thing I want to point out is that there were a lot of man run calls going on that I noticed (not ZBS). It happened enough that I made a note of it about half-way through the game. I don’t know if this is us not tipping our hand before the regular season or if Kubiak has some new twists in store for the 2016 season, but I lean more toward the former rather than the later.

Running Backs

Once the 2nd string Rams players got in, I thought our backs looked great. C.J. Anderson looked in mid-season form and I liked a lot of what I saw from Ronnie Hillman later in the game. Hillman’s showing might have just saved his spot on the roster as before this week, I was pretty sure he was going to get cut.

I do want to give props to Devontae Booker even though his stat sheet isn’t that impressive. The one thing the stat sheet won’t tell you is that one of his runs was a dreaded 3rd and 1 that he converted handily and in the other runs he had he got positive yards after contact. Also interestingly enough, Elway in the booth noted that the team had a 2nd round grade on him in the draft.

Receivers

First off, what the heck, DT!? Early in the game we saw something Broncos Country saw a lot of last season: dropped passes. Hit the Juggs, son.

Luckily Emanuel Sanders was on the field to remind Demaryius Thomas how one catches a NFL pass. Regardless of the quality of QB we have, I really think Sanders is going to have a very nice year in 2016. He’s honestly our most dangerous weapon on the offense and most consistent offensive player.

The player I was most bummed about in this game was Jordan Taylor. He’s had a great preseason, but had an off game with 2 dropped passes. For a guy that was “catching everything thrown his way” every day in training camp, I sure didn’t see that in this game. I do think his position on the team is safe though. He is at the very least a red zone weapon and looks like he has the skill to beat most team’s #3 CB.

Defense

We sat our starters pretty quickly much like the Rams, but they sure did look pretty darn good to me. I still think we’ll win a lot of games in 2016 due to the great defensive play this unit is capable of.

Front 7

Von Miller...’nuff said.

Darius Kilgo has the chance this year to pass Sylvester Williams on the depth chart. He’s playing that well in the middle and that consistently. We’ll use a rotation of course, but if he keeps being disruptive, the coaches will have no choice but to move him up the depth chart.

For a guy that saw 37 snaps in the game, Shane Ray sure did disappear in this game. He didn’t even log a stat that I could see. I was wondering about who was going to be making an impact from Ware’s side of the field with Ware out, and I got no answers in this game.

Similarly, Shaquil Barrett didn’t show a whole lot outside of a really good pass defense. That being said, he only got 17 snaps so he gets a pass from me in this one.

The one player who absolutely played his way onto the team this year in my eyes is Dakota Watson. He’s a versatile LB who has found big success in this defense as a pass rusher. He’s looks to me like really valuable depth for the Broncos.

Sadat Sulleyman absolutely played his way onto our practice squad to with some stand out play late in the game. He’s not ready quite yet to go up against the 1s, but he’s the kind of talent line Barrett who can develop in a year or so into a really impactful NFL player.

Zaire Anderson is a guy I’m pounding the table to see as a starter at ILB. He has in every way outplayed Todd Davis this preseason. His size is a knock against him, but I just think Davis’ pass defense is a liability that good teams will take advantage of where Anderson has no such weakness and is just as good in run defense.

Secondary

Chris Harris, Jr. looked silly on the first crossing route to his guy that the Rams completed. Then he got pissed and shut down everything coming his way.

I thought Darrian Stewart had probably the most impressive game of the whole defense. He was in on run plays, had 2 PDs, a TFL, and would have had a pick-6 if his hands didn’t turn to jelly when the ball got there (he must be spending too much time with DT).

It was good to see Aqib Talib back out on the field. For the record, that flag was complete BS. I tell my guy to lay the QB out every time they slow up in the field of play like that. It sends a message and sets the tone, and was in every way a completely legal hit that was in my eyes VERY necessary.

Like I said in our Game Balls post, Kayvon Webster impressed the heck out of me in this game. He had two spectacular pass defenses that would have made Champ Bailey proud. His technique on both was just spectacular riding his guy’s hip and poking the ball away as it gets there.

Special Teams

Riley Dixon got all of the punting work this game and looked in every way superior to what I saw from Britton Colquitt last year. This really has become a no-brainer move for the Broncos to let Colquitt go and keep the cheaper and likely more productive punter in Dixon.

Just like the other two preseason games, we saw no indication of a special returner show up in any phase of the game. That means by default we’ll likely be seeing a lot of Jordan Norwood this year in the return game.

Final Thoughts

The end result of this game was overall positive. We got to see a whole lot of action from players in the 2nd and 3rd tiers to see what they had. Some guys stepped up and probably landed themselves a steady job (Watson, Hillman, Sulleyman), while some seemed to disappear and really not do much of anything to help their position (Sanchez, Ross, Neal, Posey).

I really think the refs in this game were completely tuned out to what actual NFL rules mean. The call on Talib was crummy...that’s just giving the QB a bonus 15 yards for being a chump. The INT call on Siemian’s throw obviously wasn’t reviewed with any seriousness. The ball hit the ground and rolled. It wasn’t a catch in any reality whatsoever. Good thing this game doesn’t mean anything, though.

It has been a very interesting and exciting preseason for our defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos. They’ve got quite an interesting reloading season ahead of them as they develop a ton of new, young talent.

The big worry I have is what our offense is really going to look like. My encouragement on this is that it is the preseason we’ve been watching. Everything that has been called has been vanilla Kubiak WCO. Hopefully against Carolina we’ll see more creative playcalling and a run game that helps set up the pass.