Well, it wasn’t very pretty, but the first preseason game rarely is. Denver had a horrendous start to their first game action as the first team offense and defense started slow and never got a chance to redeem themselves.
While it’s way too early to start getting a feel for how the team will look, there are still some things we learned after tonight’s preseason game.
1. Denver needs a backup quarterback
Paxton Lynch is now in his third preseason/camp and hasn’t shown any growth as a passer. If anything, what we saw tonight was a regression. He looked uncomfortable, completely lost in the pocket, and I didn’t see one good pass from him all night.
Chad Kelly looked much more comfortable and poised, but that’s against 3rd stringers so it he should look good there. Regardless, Kelly looks like the better of the two quarterbacks so he needs to start getting 2nd team reps.
If I’m Denver, I would sign a veteran QB to come in and compete with Kelly for the backup quarterback role, because Denver is in trouble if they have to rely on Lynch at any point during the season.
Been told several times this week "Paxton [Lynch] better perform when the lights come on."— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) August 11, 2018
Neither he, nor Chad Kelly have looked at all impressive in camp
Chances dwindling away for Lynch.
2. When Isaiah McKenzie catches and hangs on to the punt, he can be dangerous
Isaiah McKenzie may have just punched his ticket to the 53-man roster with his performance tonight. There are still a few games left for him to continue to show that he is bouncing back from a rough rookie season, but he showed why Denver originally wanted him back returning kicks. He showed great Leveon Bell-esque patience, then turned on the jets when he saw an opening.
If McKenzie can successfully field more punts this preseason and show sure hands, I think he makes the team and starts at returner. Good on him for putting in the work to make a comeback this offseason.
It's obviously early, but I'd think McKenzie secured a roster spot for week 1 tonight #Broncos fans. pic.twitter.com/Txk5pyT5Oz— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) August 12, 2018
3. Royce Freeman is the real deal
He only had four carries, but every one of them looked good. He gained some nice yardage and showed good vision and strong legs running through contact. The best of which, of course, was the big touchdown run he broke to get Denver on the board.
I called it over @MileHighReport #Broncos Country. Get used to seeing @rolls_royce21 romping to the endzone. pic.twitter.com/RxOBzwvmWk— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) August 12, 2018
4. Will Parks has improved this off-season
Denver trading for Su’a Cravens seems to have lit a fire under Will Parks. He was all over the field, notching five tackles and a sack. He also played nearly the entire game, moving around from dime linebacker to strong safety. That will be an interesting battle to continue to watch as Will Parks has been putting in the work to improve this off-season in his third season. Early returns show that it’s paying off.
5. Todd Davis is more valuable to this team than people realize
Before everyone panics about the starting defense looking porous in run defense, recognize that Todd Davis was held out nursing a sternum injury. I know everyone likes to hate on Todd Davis due to his struggles in the passing game, but he is a difference maker in the running game.
Zaire Anderson filled in for him and looked awful, guessing on gaps and allowing some of those big runs to Latavius Murray. Denver really needs Josey Jewell to develop quickly, because the inside linebacker depth behind Marshall and Davis is very poor.