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Broncos vs Packers: The Preseason No Bull Review

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The Denver Broncos were victorious in week 3 of the preseason against the Green Bay Packers in what many consider the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. Here’s what stood out to me from the performance of the Broncos as we edge closer to the start of the 2017 NFL season.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In what was a pretty entertaining game to watch, I found a lot to like in many different areas of the Broncos’ personnel. The team has what looks like some improvements in the trenches to be encouraged about. They also still have what appears to be a defense to be reckoned with against both the pass and the rush.

There’s also some areas of concern - namely in short yardage situations as well as the passing game in general.

Let’s dig in and talk Broncos...

Defense

I really want to say that it is a true pleasure watching this defense go to work. Early in the game, Green Bay was really working some misdirection strategies, and the Broncos defense bit on exactly none of it. Until the third string came in, there were few chinks in the armor to be had from the Broncos, even being short-handed in the trenches.

Front 7

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way: Von Miller is still amazing. He makes NFL players look silly and gets paid for it. Next.

I really can’t say enough about the product that Shelby Harris put on the field in this game (and it is worth noting that he’s been consistently showing the goods for weeks). The guy had a monster game. Yes, some of the stats came against depth players. I get that. But putting up 3 sacks, 4 TFL, 3 QB hits, and 7 tackles is Malik Jackson in his prime type play by a defensive tackle. He may not be that caliber of player, but Broncos Country is going to get the chance to find out as he’ll play a big role in the rotation for the D Line in the 2017 season.

Did anyone else notice at the end of the game when Green Bay started driving, that he and Edebali got trotted back out to help shut down the comeback? Harris should get a lot of credit for his work in those last few plays of the game with our defense on the field.

Also, Adam Gotsis did a great job putting in a bunch of work in this game. His stats weren’t as eye-popping, but I did notice that he consistently was winning his battles and pushing the pocket in. I’m very encouraged by what I’m seeing from a guy that many called a huge reach in last year’s draft.

I thought as far as depth players go, both Vontarius Dora and Kasim Edebali had their moments. They definitely know how to pass rush and had moments where they were either close to or involved in sacks. I did notice one big run by Green Bay happened because Edebali lost his contain on the outside.

Secondary

The No Fly Zone does what it does. Bradley Roby absolutely had a pick that just barely got away from him and ended up between the thighs of his guy. Justin Simmons was also very close to a pick.

It was only one play, but I loved seeing Langley make the solid tackle in space on a short throw outside early in the second half. It was the kind of play we’re used to seeing from Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib - picture perfect tackling from a corner.

Offense

There are flashes of things to get excited about with our offense. The run game was actually a thing. There were some passes happening (even to the middle of the field!!!) as well. It was the kind of mediocre “solid” offensive performance I’m used to seeing from the Broncos for about 2.5 seasons.

Quarterbacks

I was chuckling quite a bit in watching this game as the announcers kept trying to talk up Trevor Siemian. Sorry guys, I’m not buying. He kinda sucked. That interception was absolutely mind-numbingly bad. It was the same kind of throw Tebow made in the playoff win against the Steelers back in 2011 - which is to say one of the easiest “NFL throws” you expect a QB to make. The only thing the QB has to do on that throw is pass the ball right in front of his receiver for an easy completion. It is in the middle of the field with a very favorable angle for passing.

Let’s set that aside for a second, though. He had three bad reads by my count (you know...the ones where a QB locks on to his first read and doesn’t move off it). He also took a bad sack on a very easy-to-read blitz where he just didn’t get rid of the ball.

On the good side, interspersed in there were some nice timing throws and another great example of a well-placed back shoulder throw to Jordan Taylor. I’m really hoping he’s working that throw with DT as well as it can easily become a bread-and-butter throw for him as the season wears on.

Let’s also credit both Siemian and Mike McCoy with getting multiple plays into the middle of the field and to tight ends. I’m honestly feeling a little spoiled as a fan to see such innovative strategy being implemented by the team. Let me also credit him with a very solid scramble for big yardage. It was smart timing by him and very good pocket awareness as well that we have rarely seen from him under pressure.

After putting Lynch on blast in my article last week, I was really looking forward to seeing more on what kind of player he is in response to losing the QB competition. Sadly, his injury kept us from really getting to see much of anything from him. Get well soon, Lynch.

Kyle Sloter kept showing us what we’ve been seeing all preseason: a third string guy letting it all hang loose on the field and looking pretty decent against depth players. He’s a guy who is intriguing and should easily find a spot on our practice squad (yes, that’s it and no, I really doubt he’ll get poached from the waiver wire).

Line

As a guy who spent most of last season dogging the offensive line week in and week out, I felt like the line we see shaping up for us is going to bring us better days in the near future outside of Max Garcia who still looks like the worst offensive player on the field when he’s out with the 1s.

I thought the line did a fair job of opening holes in the run game. It still looked a bit up and down in pass blocking, but with our quick-passing offense, this liability should be minimized on game days.

Running Backs

Jamaal Charles, let me just say that you look pretty damned good in orange and blue. I’m excited to see him suit up for us as he still shows the jukes, speed and smarts of a real NFL treasure at running back.

C.J. Anderson sure did look shaky to me in his action. Yes there were a couple of nice runs, but for a guy who everyone talks about being a “power” runner, he had a couple shots at short yardage runs and couldn’t get jack or squat. In both that I saw, he seemed to be trying to power through one of his own blockers instead of hitting a gap to either side and it didn’t work at all.

The only other real notes I had were that Ridley isn’t making the team based off what I saw in this game. He really didn’t play well and when he had his shots, he was in against the scrubs.

Receivers

I don’t have a lot of notes about our WRs in this game other than that Siemian and Sanders need to do a lot of work together. They were trying a ton to connect, and it just wasn’t working. On the day, Sanders was targeted eight times and only hauled in two.

Special Teams

Let’s give Riley Dixon some love. The dude saved a TD with a nice ankle grabbing tackle. He also had a couple of perfectly placed punts that pinned the Packers deep in the game.

While we are at it, McManus should get some love too. The guy has been nails all preseason. It is pretty reassuring to know you have a guy you can rely on in the kicking game who has a monster leg to boot.

Final Thoughts

It is going to be very interesting this season. Can the defense return to greatness? Will the offense scratch and claw its way back to the realm of “respectable”?

Everyone in the NFL is 0 - 0, and the prize is at the end of the road. The Broncos have tons of talent by the looks of it. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, they absolutely can be in the dance at the end of the season.

I’m encouraged enough to think so by seeing the work on the field that they are showing so far in the preseason. Hit me up in the comments and let me know what you think.