The Denver Broncos completely manhandled the Washington Redskins 29-17 during their regular season dress rehearsal on Friday night. The first and second team units smothered the Redskins passing attack and limited the damage on the ground for a 23-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Given such domination, there were plenty of winners tonight, but I’ll focus on the four biggest winners and pick on three players who need to improve on their play in this game.
Winner - Vance Joseph
Time for all you Vance Joseph haters to give credit where credit is due. He was roasted for losing games with the worst quarterback situation in the NFL last season, so why not give him some love for dominating an opponent in what is considered the dress rehearsal to the regular season.
While Paxton Lynch was booed coming onto the field last week, it was Trevor Siemian’s turn to be booed by Minnesota Vikings fans this week after a horrific performance in his dress rehearsal as the backup quarterback there.
Joseph now has talent at the most important position in the game and the team went out and shut down the Redskins on the road. I’ll take it!
Loser - Brendan Langley and Isaac Yiadom
For Brendan Langley, he came out of college a very raw cornerback and he still has a long ways to go. He struggled in coverage again this week, getting burned deep late in the game in what would lead to the Redskins first touchdown of the game.
Both Langley and rookie Isaac Yiadom struggled in this game and it leaves the secondary a bit thin on depth. The Broncos won’t want to see either player on the field too much during the regular season.
Winner - Phillip Lindsay
When you hit a home run on an undrafted college free agent, you just know it early on. Phillip Lindsay is going to be lightning in a bottle for the Broncos. He gets the added bonus of being a local, hometown hero, so I am sure Broncos Country is going to love this kid.
It seemed like Lindsay was more featured in the backfield than Devontae Booker in that first half. It’s true that Lindsay finished with 5 carries for 31 yards compared to Booker’s 3 carries for 9 yards, but some of that came in the second half after the starters (Booker included) were on the bench.
The fact is, however, that Freeman looks like your starter and Lindsay looks like your third down, change of pace back. Where exactly does that leave Booker in terms of carries or even on-the-field presence?
Winner - Royce Freeman
I think we can officially start drafting Royce Freeman much earlier in our fantasy leagues. He may not be the every down running back, but he is going to see plenty of red zone touches and he apparently has a nose for the end zone having scored in each of the Broncos three preseason games.
This 24-yard burst up the middle was setup by Andy Janovich, but it was Freeman’s nifty footwork that got him through muck and into the end zone.
Loser - Billy Turner
There was one play in the third quarter that nearly got Chad Kelly killed. Somehow Kelly still got the ball out to De’Angelo Henderson who was then also subsequently nearly killed. That sequence of events rests entirely at the feet of Billy Turner who was completely owned on the play.
The Broncos have some serious depth concerns on the offensive line and will need Turner to step up his game if he makes the final 53-man roster this season.
Winner - Dymonte Thomas
Safety Dymonte Thomas probably made the most of his playing time in terms of getting noticed for one of those final 53-man roster spots. He had a fantastic fourth down stop in coverage on Vernon Davis - covering tight ends is an issue for the Broncos defense - early in the game that could have potentially led to points.
Instead, the two-yard pass resulted in a turnover on down which Case Keenum and the offense took down the field for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead instead.
Covering tight ends could be how Thomas finds his way onto this roster. He and Su’a Cravens could be the missing pieces to a defense that has been great for years despite that one lingering weakness.