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Broncos vs. Vikings: The Preseason No Bull Review

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The Denver Broncos faced the Minnesota Vikings for their first real football action of the 2018 season. Here are my No Bull thoughts, opinions, and analysis on the Denver Broncos’ most recent game.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Minicamp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the No Bull Review. A quick intro for all of you who are new to Mile High Report: this is a no-nonsense take where I review our recent games with a focus on what I see from our players, coaches, and how they performed on the field.

I’m very much an eye test guy, though I’ll throw in stats here and there that I feel are relevant (my official stance is that most stats used by the media are garbage because they exclude context and paint pictures that normally aren’t accurate, but I digress).

This series grew organically here at MHR and I’ve been doing them since 2009. The major focus is for us to dissect the play on the field and stimulate conversation. I encourage all of you to hit up the comment section and share your thoughts!

Keep Preseason in perspective

Let’s start this off by pointing out that no one should take this game between the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings too seriously. Yes, it does matter, but not nearly as much as many would point out. The coaches aren’t installing a game plan. Not much work is being done on scouting the opponent. Teams are going to run their base packages for the most part and the focus is on putting players in position to show what they can or can’t do for the team.

My initial take after the game was that our coaching was as bad as Lynch’s game. Our team looked woefully unprepared to play. Unlike most who I think are still feeling a little too much hate at Vance Joseph for last season, I’m going to temper my anger on this one...if we look that unprepared for 2 more weeks, I’m promise I’ll join the haters on bashing VJ as our head coach.

Defense

The only serious worry I have with the defense is with the run fits up front. The team had trouble diagnosing run plays and sealing off gaps that the Minnesota offense opened up by design.

The coverage was flaky at times, but that’s kinda normal for preseason football. A lot of plays were completed through the air that were just great throws and catches. I didn’t see a lot of guys getting completely beat or out of position which is encouraging.

Front 7

Bradley Chubb needs to not take notes from the Shane Ray school of run blocking. He did have a great assist in stopping one of the Vikings’ goal line runs, but had more misses than hits. Chubb really did look like a rookie out there with a big weakness in shedding blockers to defend the run. I’m not overly concerned about this...he is after all a rookie.

Derek Wolfe looked pretty rough up front as well. This is a bit surprising to me as his motor is normally non-stop. He gave ground and got pushed around more than I normally see which hopefully we can just chalk up to shaking the rust off.

Brandon Marshall didn’t look great either. In the short time we saw the starters, he misdiagnosed multiple run plays where he could have made the play as a ILB.

Domata Peko looked like a beast in the short action he saw. He completely ruined a screen play early and drew a holding penalty while doing it.

Depth player notes:

  • Zach Kerr looked tough versus the run - the guy plays with a ton of power
  • Josey Jewell looked better than the starters - he’s going to be a great player for the Broncos
  • Jeff Holland reminds me so much of what Shaquil Barrett looked like his first season. His pass rush was very strong and he’s going to be a guy they may have to keep on the 53 man roster before it is all said and done
  • Shelby Harris still impresses me with the push he gets and how active he is with his hands at the line of scrimmage

Secondary

I love me some Darian Stewart. He was probably my defensive player of the game with multiple great plays against the run and some very savvy pass coverage.

Bradley Roby is one of the guys that got beat by a really great pass and catch. Isaac Yiadom did as well a couple of times. The encouraging thing is that both of them were right where they needed to be in order to make the play. They just need to be a split second faster in knocking the ball away.

Will Parks overall had a better game than Stewart only because he played far more snaps. Parks really impressed me. I was pretty critical of his play last season, but he looks like a guy that’s really be studying his craft and staying focused this off season. I agree with others that say that the signing of Su’a Cravens lit a fire under him.

Offense

The offense made it awfully hard to form any kind of opinion on what they are in 2018 based off what we saw from the 1st and 2nd teams. The 1st team were dominated on every play and the 2nd team was plagued by absolutely pathetic quarterbacking (if that’s what you want to call it).

Quarterbacks

I’d love to wax poetic about Case Keenum, but sadly he didn’t do squat. Until we see it multiple weeks, I’m not going to read too much into this.

Conversely, Paxton Lynch looked like a dumpster fire to rival anything we saw out of Tim Tebow in his short time with the Broncos...and I think that’s an insult to Tim Tebow. As I said in the post yesterday about the change in depth chart at quarterback, Lynch looks the same or worse as he did when he came into the league two seasons ago.

The breath of fresh air for Broncos Country ended up being Chad Kelly. From what I’d heard out of training camp he has been very up and down, but what we saw on the field Saturday night was a guy that loves playing the game and is trying his damnedest. The guy was progressing through reads, taking advantage of blown coverage, and using his feet only when needed after plays broke down.

Line

The first string offense didn’t have much success winning the line of scrimmage. There wasn’t any one guy that really stood out as much as it looked like our guys just couldn’t move the Vikings players off their spots.

Running Backs

Devontae Booker shouldn’t be #1 on the depth chart. I’m sorry, but this situation is just as big of a deal as the QB situation to me. I’m tired of seeing the Broncos trot out average running backs just because they have experience. Booker averaged 3.5 ypc. That’s just a hair off his NFL average. It isn’t enough. He doesn’t have the explosiveness or vision needed to be a starting back.

Contrast that with Royce Freeman who without his big run averaged 5 ypc. Add in his big run and you saw a potential playmaker. I’m excited to see if he can do more, as again, this is the preseason...hopefully he shows more and more in the next couple of games.

Phillip Lindsay looks like a powerful weapon if this team can use him properly. His speed and quickness out of the backfield can lead to big plays much like his very impressive TD catch. He’s a guy you need to use like Darren Sproles with plays designed to get open in space.

Receivers

Honestly, the only guys that saw serious action were a bunch of players that aren’t even likely to make the team. Next week this will change once we see better quarterback play with the 1st and 2nd string offenses.

Special Teams

Wow...Marquette King is a friggin weapon (and no, I’m not talking about the Scottish variety). The media may hate on the guy because he doesn’t like interviews, but Broncos Country hopefully will embrace the big upgrade he is on the field of play.

Final Thoughts

Football is back. I’m stoked to see our team play and looking forward to spending some time each week digging in with the finest Broncos fans on the planet.