It took longer than fans wanted, but the Denver Broncos first string offense finally got on the board. If you are like me, you probably had a big sigh of relief when Case Keenum connected over the middle with DaeSean Hamilton for a first down. After failing to move the ball at all against the Vikings in the first preseason game, it felt good to see them finally move the chains.
After the drive stalled, and Brandon McManus kicked a 26 yard field goal, the score was 5-0. A baseball game had broken out. When the offense finally got the ball back, the defense had given up a 5 play, 75 yard drive resulting in a Mitchell Trubisky touchdown pass to tight end Trey Burton. It was not a great showing from the defense, and a response from the offense was crucial.
Emmanuel Sanders and Case Keenum have had good timing throughout camp and it’s showing up here tonight.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 19, 2018
When Keenum and the offense ran out on the field, the second quarter drive was a world apart from what fans had seen up to that point. Jeff Heuerman made his presence known shoving down the Bears defender and picking up 8 yards. Keenum also hooked up with Emmanuel Sanders for some big plays. After a long pass interference call, the Broncos were in business, and Royce Freeman put the finishing touches on the drive with a four yard touchdown run. The exclamation point was another Keenum to Heuerman connection for the two point conversion.
It was just a basic drive, that ended in a touchdown and a two point conversion, that meant nothing because it was preseason. But it was also an incredibly important statement made by the offense. The offense needed to do something to alleviate the concerns of the fans. When Steve Atwater joined Ian St. Clair and I on the MHR Radio podcast, I asked him about that “here we go again” feeling. He assured me that things would change.
They did, and the collective sigh of relief at Mile High Stadium could be felt throughout the state. It wasn’t that fans didn’t believe the Broncos could score. It was the way they looked against Minnesota. Unprepared, disinterested, choose your apathetic adjective. While it didn’t change immediately, the Broncos looked much better against the Bears.
That uh-oh feeling disappeared. There was a sharpness about the offense that hadn’t been seen in Denver in a long time. Even without a full compliment of weapons (Demaryius Thomas did not play), Keenum was able to command the offense and move the ball.
After Justin Simmons came away with an interception, Chad Kelly came out and continued to show he belongs in the number 2 spot on the depth chart. He led another solid drive, culminating in a Courtland Sutton touchdown. The offense was moving fast. They looked sharp, and Denver seems to be in good shape.
The bottom line for Denver this season is improvement on the offensive side of the football. After moving the ball and putting points on the board, it appears as if the Broncos have the right mix on offense to get the job done. Once Keenum has his full compliments of weapons, the Broncos could have one of the most consistent offenses in the NFL.
Obviously, there is a lot of fake football to be played before any real football happens. However, the preseason is the time to find the rhythm that’s been missing. By the time the third string was on the field, the Broncos had shown they were building something worth watching on offense.