clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The No Bull Review: My take on Day 8 of Broncos Camp

Today the No Bull review hits training camp for a great morning of football and a no nonsense take on what one day of practice at UCHealth Training Center looks like for the Denver Broncos

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

A record setting 6,567 people came to training camp today, according to Patrick Smyth’s tweet Friday. That’s a whole lot of Broncos Country getting a view of the action and a taste of what’s to come this year for the Orange and Blue on the field.

Let me first plug the experience: if you live in or around the Denver area and love the Broncos, do yourself a favor and head out to check out a practice. Other than the sun beating down on the fans, it is a really great time with a superb view of the team and the action as it works on its craft in preparation for the season. It is both free and fun in what has to be one of the nicest facilities the NFL has to offer.

We talkin’ ‘bout practice!

Let’s all keep in mind this is an organized practice. Friday’s was in shells only and isn’t what I would call “real football.” The scrimmage on Saturday will be a lot closer to something that tells us useful information about the team and how it performs with live action. As it is, the players aren’t tackling to the ground, full speed, or full on pass rushing. One thing I don’t think the media does well in general is giving a good idea just what happens at training camp and what it means. Anything having to do with assessment for the players during these types of practices needs to be tempered with proper expectations that most of these practices don’t necessarily mean much in judging a player day-to-day. It is what the coaches see over time from the players along with how they perform in real game action (preseason games) that is going to really help them make decisions on depth charts.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is take these daily camp reports from any source, not just me with a grain of salt. Can we look over the past seven days of reports and get an idea of who is doing well and who isn’t? Maybe. If you trust the source and their assessment. But every year there are surprises when the depth charts are released ... this is because the coaches know a ton more about the players than we see in these little glimpses that are made public.

Now, on to football

Von Miller’s got the day off

Early on it was very interesting to see Von Miller without pads being with the team on his veteran’s day. He’s the star of the team and a leader for the defense and it showed. He even took a hit at the sled without pads to kick things off.

Sadaraine - MHR

He also walked around with the linebackers with a word for them and what looked like a stance check. I noticed him doing this with both DeMarcus Walker and Kasim Edebali.

Sadaraine - MHR

Thoughts on the Lines

I want to echo again, it is really hard to tell how real the performance is in these practices for the lines. Yes they are going at it, but it isn’t full throttle smash-mouth football. That being said, here’s what stood out to me with the linemen, for what it is worth.

  • The line overall opened up some nice holes for the running backs with some consistency. If what I saw translates to the real football field, the Broncos will actually have some semblance of a run game this year in contrast to the abomination we saw last year from the run offense.
  • Billy Winn impressed me with his play on the line. This mainly came from two tipped passes at the line of scrimmage.
  • Garett Bolles looks like the most legit left tackle Denver’s had since Ryan Clady way back in the day. He plays hard, run blocks well, and seems to be working his tail off at pass protection (which is needed). One of the better run plays saw him just beast block two players to spring the running back.
  • Both tackles seemed to have issues with pass rushers at times. Some of this had to do with the quarterbacks not getting the ball out quickly, but some of the times they were flat out getting beat.

Is there a TE of note in the house?

Virgil Green in the one route I saw him run where he was thrown to created no separation. In the play he was a check-down option in the middle of the field and wasn’t able to quickly change direction to shake his defender. It was just one play, but this is the really the story for years now with Green: he doesn’t do enough as a route runner to be a good passing option at tight end.

Jeff Heuerman caught a couple of nice routes from what I saw, but nothing supremely attention-grabbing.

It was just one day of watching, but I didn’t see a big focus on the tight ends in the passing game, and I certainly didn’t see any indication of any of the group “wowing” anyone with their play. We’ll have to keep looking to see what they bring for this Thursday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

The Running Backs are looking good in general

I noted some very nice runs by both C.J. Anderson and De’Angelo Henderson. Stevan Ridley popped in the passing game as well. I’m encouraged to see positive gains both inside and outside in the running game fairly consistently Friday morning.

It did strike me as interesting that Henderson, Anderson, Ridley and fullback Andy Janovich all had nice catches and not just from outlet check-downs. Every phase of the team from the starters to the scrubs are involving the running backs in the passing game.

A No Bull take on our two QBs

It really is funny to watch the practice alongside what we see as tweet hot takes from many different outlets of the media. I’m not going to be shy about stating that I think everyone in Broncos Country should step back from the sensationalist takes we get from Twitter and other media sources. I’m seeing a lot of sources being very one sided about what they are or are not saying from one minute to the next (and, no, don’t ask for names. It is readily apparent for people who take the time read to between the lines).

That being said, let me try my best to do what I do every week of the season and give you the honest feedback on what I see from the QBs. All of this is from my own eyes and what happened Friday at camp. Yes, I’ll of course use comparisons to last year for both guys. Yes, I’m biased just like you are. If you don’t like what you read here, you can take it with a grain of salt. This is just practice, I’m not the head coach or the general manager, and it is just an opinion at the end of the day.

Trevor Siemian notes

  • Trevor Siemian had a very nice intermediate touchdown pass to early to what looked like Carlos Henderson early, which included a pass interference call on the defender.
  • Siemian also threw a very nice touchdown pass to Cody Latimer in the back of the end zone that showed some really nice touch (Latimer was being held on this one too, for what it is worth).
  • He also heard the message Vance Joeseph sent on Thursday in how he wants players to take plays that are there. Siemian scrambled twice that I saw when his passing options were covered. I found this pretty interesting to see as it wasn’t like the play went 5 seconds and he took off. They were either designed or he quickly went through two reads, then went.
  • I counted at least four plays where Siemian was staring down his read the whole way. It is a tendency he had last year and one that he clearly hasn’t shaken.
  • There was a tendency still for him to underthrow his passes deep to the sidelines. A little more air under them would have ended in a couple more touchdowns.
  • I did see a couple of nice pass attempts geared more to the middle of the field.

Paxton Lynch notes

  • Lynch’s early throws showed some accuracy issues with plays to be made if he just throws it a little more on target. Accuracy was an issue for him on probably 30% of his passes.
  • During the drills, Lynch threw a very nice pass to the flat that was taken to the house by the running back (didn’t see the number on this one from my vantage point).
  • He also threw a very nice touchdown pass to Ridley in the end zone to the outside.
  • Several of Lynch’s passes were dropped (two by Demaryius Thomas, who still needs to hit the Jugs machine).
  • One of the plays Lynch ran was clearly a timing throw to the outside that he put right on the money for what looked like about 10 yards. It was good to see him work this kind of pass instead of the typical read/react passes he’ll throw the majority of the time.
  • Lynch threw two interceptions that were flat out bad. One one of them he tries to look off the safety one direction, then turns and throws the other direction. The problem was he didn’t really read the coverage. He just looked to see where the route was and threw it. I believe it was Bradley Roby who was waiting for it in the end zone and stepped in front of it to pick him off.
  • Here’s what you didn’t hear from most of the media right after this play: the very next play Lynch made a fantastic touchdown pass to Thomas. It was as good a touch pass as anything Siemian threw on the day.
  • The other INT later in practice was a poor choice to throw to a covered guy where the pass was tipped by Danny Mason that Lorenzo Doss chased down and housed.

These Quarterbacks are who they are and it is apparent

Be warned: I’m hopping back up on my soapbox for a moment.

The comparison of these two QBs is very straightforward and direct from what I’ve seen today. Dating back to last year, I’ve grown to learn what these two bring to the table. I have more info on Siemian because I’ve seen more of him on the field.

Siemian is a guy who you can apply a lot of labels to that will make sense:

  • Game Manager
  • Safe
  • Efficient passer

He is a young QB who is going to play football in a rather conservative, risk-free manner. Probably his worst fault is his inability to look off defenders with any level of consistency. I can’t really say what his best attribute is since what we see from him is a very plain and vanilla style of QB play that doesn’t really stress a defense, if that makes sense.

Paxton Lynch also has his own list of labels that fit:

  • Inexperienced
  • Big arm
  • Rookie
  • Learning

He also is a young QB, but he is going to play football in a more aggressive manner. His worst fault appears to me to be how green he is. The game has yet to “slow down” for him and it leads to him to some hesitancy in decision making as the play develops. His best attribute has to be the raw athleticism that you can see him bring to his game from both his arm and his legs.

At the end of the day, if you want me to tell you who the best guy is, that answer is going to be, “Based on what?” There is nothing new to this story that all of us who have watched these two guys last year have seen. Siemian being a year longer into his career and something like 12 more games of starting experience appears far more comfortable from what I saw Friday. Lynch looks like he has more untapped potential that is both going to have awesome touchdown passes coupled with some derpy interceptions.

Siemian: Boring

Lynch: Exciting

Siemian: Safe

Lynch: Risky

Siemian: Game Manager

Lynch: Gunslinger

Both of these young players need a lot of work. Both of them can play NFL football. Both of them have pros and cons.

You want to know who won the day (whatever that means ... we are “talkin’ ‘bout practice” after all)?

Lynch did. Why do I say that? Because I’ll take those derpy as all get out picks to go along with just as many touchdown plays. I want an offense that has teeth. Getting Lynch trained up and ready will have its growing pains and come with its interceptions.

I’m not interested choosing more three-and-outs over a few mistakes if I’m playing arm-chair head coach. And let’s be real: that’s all anyone giving you an opinion on which quarterback will start is doing.

The fascinating thing is going to be seeing, first, what they do when there is an opponent on the other side of the ball playing real football with a real pass rush trying to defeat them. Once we see that, it will turn super interesting to see what conclusion the coaching staff comes to for Week 1.