Von was Von.
Trevor was Trevor.
Sunshine was Sunshine.
Jamaal was JAMAAL!
McManus was McMoney.
Sloter was Sloter.
And Shelby Harris was Derek Wolfe.
But basically, the Broncos were the Broncos – producing decent offensive performances with (mostly) overcome-able mistakes and a few explosive plays while consistently dominating on defense.
All in all it was a solid showing on both sides of the ball, proving that the Broncos’ defense with Von Miller is sooo much better than without him and that the offense is quite a bit better with Jamaal Charles than without him.
Head coach Vance Joseph said as much, calling Miller’s performance “special” and Charles’ night “impressive.”
“He had two third-down rushes and one sack, so it was pretty special,” Joseph said of the premiere edge rusher who played his 2017 preseason debut.
The sack came on a 3rd-and-7 while dragging two Packers with him before essentially “scaring” Aaron Rodgers into a fetal position.
Of course a sack dance followed. And it shall be called the “Sexy T-Rex.”
“Everybody can do that at home. It was planned. That’s a sack dance that everybody can do,” Miller said, adding that he’s got A LOT of those dances planned for the season. “I’ve got to get my guys in it, too. It’s better when you can celebrate how soccer players celebrate. You can get some chemistry with that, too.”
As for the veteran running back, the coach is looking forward to “a speed element” that the offense hasn’t had in the backfield in a long time.
“Third downs, catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s an explosive receiver, I mean he’s a guy that can make a big play at any moment. That’s a nice player to have on your offense,” Joseph said, adding he expects to have a “four- to five-man backfield.”
Charles inked his name on the roster Saturday night – not just with his four rushes for 27 yards and two passes for 15 yards, but perhaps more so for his blitz pickups and general blocking stud-ness.
The Broncos offered a balanced offense with 174 yards through the air and 125 on the ground. Trevor Siemian had one interception off a bad throw in Denver’s second series of the game.
But No. 13’s unshakeable calmness shined as he led the Broncos back on the next series with a 10-play drive, culminating in a 16-yard C.J. Anderson touchdown that cut the deficit to three.
“I thought Trevor was solid outside of the interception. He was solid,” Joseph said of his newly anointed starting QB. Penalties and stalled third-down conversions plagued the offense, but overall the coach was “pleased.”
Emmanuel Sanders, who caught two passes for 25 yards, noted Siemian’s “bounce-back” poise.
“To be able to bounce back means you have confidence in yourself and you understand that you’re not going to be perfect all the time, so don’t even expect to be perfect,” the wide receiver said, acknowledging both he and Siemian were “rusty” on connecting. “When you make a mistake, go out and try not to make the same mistake twice. That’s what it’s about.”
The quarterback finished with a respectable 13 of 22 for 127 yards and one interception but no touchdowns. But he also finished fourth on the rushing stats with two for 18 yards, including a 16-yard gain for a first down to keep the touchdown drive alive.
Should Broncos fans start thinking of their starter as a mobile QB?
“No, not at all,” Siemian laughed. “I was waiting for someone to tackle me. I was wondering if anyone was out there. I was joking on the sideline that every time I’ve broken on a run, it felt like a 65-yard run. Then I look over and it’s 11-yards. It was good to keep us going there.”
With Demaryius Thomas out of the game after a minor groin injury, the quarterback was without one of major threats at wide receiver.
But the Sunshine came through.
Jordan Taylor – his nickname not for nothing, after all – had only three catches, but each was big, often saving the throw, much less the drive.
While that might have been somewhat of a surprise to fans who know Taylor is on the bubble for making the roster, it was absolutely no surprise to Siemian who has come to rely on Sunshine just the way his predecessor did.
“Jordan is just a guy that I’ve thrown with since I got here. We have three years of good work,” Siemian said of the wideout who was first made famous for helping Peyton Manning in his comeback to lead the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. “He works really hard. He’s just an easy guy to throw to. He’s a big, tall blonde that will get separation for you. I feel good about throwing to all those guys, but Jordan and I have been playing for a while together.”
Despite not playing a while together, two young guys – including a certain rookie QB - showed up big in the second half to help put the Broncos on top of the scoring chart.
Kyle Sloter, who despite the critics keeps proving his potential, was unimpressive on his first drive after being called up due to a shoulder injury to Paxton Lynch at the beginning of the second half.
But Sloter’s two incomplete passes and the Broncos’ eventual punt was mitigated by the Broncos’ defense, led by Shelby Harris, which held off the Packers. The undrafted QB did much better next time around – completing two passes in a row to Hunter Sharp, the second one a 21-yard touchdown.
Though Sloter has won over a bunch of believers in the past three games, the head coach insists he’s staying at No. 3 on the depth chart. Joseph said after last week’s impressive Sloter-ing that the rookie would be on the practice squad and the team would keep just two QBs on the roster.
Lynch’s 1-of-2 for 9 yards plus injury shows why that decision may not be a good strategy, but so far the coach is unwavering.
“He stands where he’s standing, he’s our third right now,” Joseph said. “Now he played well again, and I’ve been impressed with Kyle - he’s been really solid through camp and through the games we’ve played - but he stands where he stands.”
If there were any surprise performances on the night, they might have come from Shelby Harris.
Except that that really shouldn’t have been a surprise.
The former Raider has consistently played well this preseason and has been a more-than-necessary defensive end for what seems like a continually depleting defensive line.
Harris led the team with seven tackles, five solo, and three sacks that resulted in a loss of 27 yards. He had four tackles for a loss and three hits on the QB.
“Shelby’s been solid, from OTAs to training camp to the last three games,” Joseph said. “He’s played really well. He had two turnovers last week in San Fran and [three] sacks tonight, so Shelby is an ascending player right now.”
Harris is certainly ascending in the mind of Von Miller – and that is always a good thing.
“He’s been great. Shelby’s definitely going to help us, especially at a spot where we’re light,” Miller said. “It’s refreshing to get some great play out of him.”
Favorite play from the game?
This poll is closed
Von’s spin move to a sack
Von’s "Sexy T-Rex" dance
Every run from Jamaal Charles
Every block from Jamaal Charles
Every sack from Shelby Harris
Sunshine’s over-the-shoulder, behind-the-back (and through-the-woods?) catch
The Sloter-Sharp 41-yard TD