After a rather poor showing in week 1, Broncos Country was treated to a much more competent showing from the teams’ first and second string units. The showing was very positive and encouraging which hopefully will help some of our more flighty fans back away from the ledge a bit.
I thought the team looked much more ready to play against Chicago. It is still quite in fashion to throw shade Vance Joseph’s way, but honestly, he deserves some modicum of credit for the preparation that showed in this game as well as some very sound coaching decisions (QB changes, working younger players with more targets in the passing game, and giving our likely starters and rotational players heaver snap loads).
Overall the defense was ready to play this week. Sure, the 3rd string defense got shredded, but let’s be real here: Chicago played a 10 year vet throughout the whole back half of the game. If the 3s were facing an actual 3, they likely would have had a more solid showing.
What the heck happened to Shaquil Barrett? Having Shane Ray taking snaps over him still is just as pathetic as it was last season. Did his play fall off a cliff that we aren’t aware of or is he just getting buried by all the new shiny pass rushers the front office has been picking up?
The guys up front this game looked very solid. Really kudos to all the 1st and 2nd team defensive linemen...the Bears consistently got beat up front and weren’t able to open up the kinds of gaps that gashed the Broncos in week 1.
Brandon Marshall’s TFL really stood out to me during the Bears 2nd drive. That was the kind of run defense we see regularly from Todd Davis and is what we need to see more out of from the Inside Linebackers for the Broncos.
I’m not sure which Linebacker was responsible for the RB out of the backfield on the Bears touchdown, but make no mistake, it was neither Von Miller nor the safety’s responsibility on that play (despite what the “analyst” calling the game said and drew on the screen).
DeMarcus Walker showed some really strong interior pass rush in this game and was rewarded with a sack. I’m still encouraged that he’s the guy that is going to bring this pass rush back to its dangerous top-5 level we saw in 2015.
Isaac Yiadom is playing really friggin hard. He just looks a ton like a rookie who needs seasoning. His PI call was completely avoidable and he had another play where he was in position to break up the pass but was just a second too slow. Hopefully the Broncos don’t head into the season with him as the #3 guy...that I think would be a mistake for his development and for the team.
Justin Simmons is the truth people. If he keeps playing the same way he’s been playing in the short action he’s gotten in 2 weeks of play, he’s going to be a guy everyone knows of by the season’s end. His INT was a superb showing of read / react time with great execution of athletic technique to make a play on the ball.
Of all the younger corners, no one guy is sticking out to me as an answer and that’s a bad deal for this defense. Having a bunch of guys who you can’t trust to play man means you have to use zone more and more which is something this defense doesn’t excel at. Also we’re one injury away from serious trouble once the regular season starts. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Broncos find some corner help before we hit week one of the regular season.
There was more competent offensive play in this game than we saw for the majority of the 2017 season. The passing game got rolling, the run game was stout, and the coaches mixed in lot of different personnel and design into the game to keep the defense on its toes.
Case Keenum had a solid showing. We still haven’t seen a TD pass from him, but I feel like their focus with him at the helm has been more focused on working on concepts for the young receivers than it is about going after the end zone. Maybe that’s just me, but don’t get too down on Keenum yet.
Chad Kelly was simply amazing. Not only did he look great against the twos, but he looked like a guy that has the potential to be a starting NFL QB. What is important is for him to stay humble and keep working hard at honing his craft just like he says he is. The team believes in him far more than they ever believed in any of the “quarterbacks” that took the field for the Broncos in 2017. I love the types of throws he’s making regularly - lots of heat paired with high accuracy which means only his guy has a real chance to make the catch.
Conversely, Paxton Lynch officially shat all over his chance to be a starting QB for the Denver Broncos if not the whole NFL. When faced with a challenge to “look good against third stringers” he instead looked exactly the same as he looked the week before...which is to say like hot, steaming garbage.
Also as the resident vocal “No Bull” writer on the site, please allow me to say this: I don’t buy the nonsense we’re hearing from him and the coaches one iota. There’s lots of hinting that he works hard all the time and has put in the time and effort. That’s nonsense. If he was working that hard, we’d have seen him tear up the Bear’s 3rd string defense like so much wet paper. The guy has great physical tools. Preparation at an NFL level matched with effort would have led to more than we’re seeing this year...heck we saw better football out of Tim friggin Tebow than we are with Lynch. The only name I can really correlate with Lynch is JaMarcus Russell at this point.
I loved just about everything we saw from the line. Even Max Garcia looked pretty darn solid all game long. The guys up front won over and over which led to a very stout run game that was effective if not spectacular.
Jared Veldheer is a frigging beast at right tackle. The guy was shoving defenders around like a boss and looked far better than any right tackle we had outside last season.
Garett Bolles still looks like a darn solid player to me. I worry with our offense about the tackles constantly as a weakness on either side can absolutely ruin an NFL offense, but both sides look to be in very good hands for this season.
Royce Freeman needs to go ahead and be the starter. He’s got twice the game that Devontae Booker does easily. He’s got power, balance, vision, and great burst. We’ll see how he ends up, but the guy reminds me a heck of a lot of what we saw from Maurice Jones-Drew back in the day.
I also really like what I see from Philip Lindsay. He’s got the kind of speed on the field that can be a strong tool in the box for an offensive coordinator. That he’s also showing a ton of fight in special teams makes a really strong case for him to make the team.
Daesean Hamilton got a lot of targets this week and ended up with not a lot to show for it. I’m not terribly worried about it, but hopefully he shows some better work on the field under the bright lights than what we’ve seen through 2 weeks.
Courtland Sutton is absolutely going to be a beast of a player for this team and he looks like a guy that has a real chance to make an impact in his rookie season to my eyes. He’s got that rare pairing of size and speed that make him a terror downfield for defenses to deal with and I don’t even think the team has been working in his jump ball skills during the preseason games just so opposing teams don’t have good film on how good he is at that!
Marquette King was robbed from what would have been the best possible coffin corner kick in the NFL by a blind ref. The ball absolutely went out of bounds and sure didn’t look to me like the Bronco defender touched it before it went out of bounds.
I’m super excited to hear that Will Parks didn’t have serious injury. The Broncos (knock on wood) have been pretty fortunate so far on the injury front...if you look around just at the AFC West, other teams are not nearly as lucky as we are.
Next week the team gets some serious work with the ones against the Washington Redskins. As we inch closer and closer to the regular season, I’m getting pretty stoked to see a real game and week 3 of the preseason is the closest thing you will get to that this time of year.
Do we need to watch for a veteran QB? Are you guys seeing any of the depth corners stand out as maybe having the goods? What great play did you see that I didn’t mention? Hit me up in the comments with your thoughts!