I’m getting pumped for this season and with good reason. The air around the Broncos Training Camp is fresh and full of promise much like you expect from any year’s training camp. But looking back to the past couple of years, I can’t honestly say that that was the case in 2016 and 2017. There was a lot of positivity, but it seemed to be the kind of positivity that was covering up the truth instead of real, honest hope for a fruitful season.
It is different this year. The team has had what on paper looks like one of the most successful drafts in team history. The players are in camp and showing the goods on both sides of the field with a lot of new faces contributing - which is just what the doctor ordered.
Case Keenum is looking more and more like a genius acquisition
Everything we hear out of camp this year is that Case Keenum is the medicine to what ails the Broncos offense. While I think it is bigger than that (Bill Musgraves coordinating a sensible offensive scheme may have something to do with it), I tend to agree with the chatter going around regarding this offense under Keenum.
Now that many have seen him close up and personal, my recent review of his work last year should help paint a clearer picture of what kind of quarterback he is.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed about Keenum as I read the camp reports, watch the excellent video out of the Denver Broncos’ media department, and read through the press conference transcriptions, is that he’s spreading the ball around. While there’s guys like Courtland Sutton who seem to be talked about each week, you still hear about passes going to Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas, DaeSean Hamilton, Jake Butt, Austin Traylor, and even our committee of running backs.
More importantly, the offensive system appears to be tailored to the players
My biggest worry going into this system is whether or not Bill Musgraves is going to be able to tailor the system to fit the players we have. So far, that seems to be exactly what we’re seeing with a lot of success from the offense in camp in multiple ways.
We’re seeing scheme components attacking multiple levels of the field and a lot of plays that maybe aren’t being made, but the player is in a great position and it has to do with that player executing a play that was designed to take advantage of his skill set (a great example is the Broncos giving tons of looks where Sutton is being tossed a jump ball).
But let me caution Broncos Country in a few areas
First of all, remember that it is just training camp. We talkin’ ‘bout practice!?
One very key piece that we have as of yet not been able to see much of is actual trench play on both sides of the ball. Yes, they are out there. Yes, when pads are on, it is on...but not really.
See the quarterback safety measures in place mean the QBs can’t really be hit. That means in some ways we’re not seeing the best view of how good our offensive line is at pass blocking or how good that defensive front seven is at pass rushing.
Both of those areas of play are key to this season. If you should focus on anything in the coming preseason games, I’d advice focusing on the line play. It is a really big deal to the success of your Denver Bronco team.
Has there really been anything other than hype from our running back room?
Seriously though, every year I hear about how good our group of running backs are. I’m honestly over it. I want to see a couple of our guys look like weapons instead of plodding guys who can go through the designed hole and gain 3.5 yards per play on average. Where are the big plays in the run game? That’s what I’m more interested in seeing.
It honestly doesn’t mean anything to me as far as who starts or what the depth chart order is here. What I care about is our running backs making an impact in each and every game that keeps defenses where they have to respect the run game (protip: they haven’t in the past 2 seasons much to my chagrin).
Is Broncos Country buying the hype on our cornerback depth?
It may just be the crust old crab in me, but I’m not buying all the talk about the Broncos defense being in great shape.
First off, Bradley Roby can’t carry Aqib Talib’s jock with two helpers and a wheelbarrow. I’ve been one of his most vocal critics in the past few years and until he shows consistently great play week after week, I’m not buying this story that Roby is going to be able to hold his own with some of the NFL’s greatest. While he’s had some great games (last year he had 3 that I can recall), he’s also sprinkled in some stinkers as well. That’s not what you want from a #1 corner in the NFL.
Let me also throw some cold water on the idea our boy Chris Harris, Jr. is throwing around that he’s going to line up on the opponent’s best WR every week. Look, I’ve got a full blown man-crush on CHJ, but he’s delusional if he thinks he’s going to be fine mano y mano with the likes of A.J. Green, Antonio Brown, or Julio Jones (not that we’re facing them all, just using an example). Harris’ one weakness is his size. Tall receivers can just out jump him and there’s nothing he can do but make the tackle. I’ll believe the idea that CHJ is playing shut down a la Darrelle Revis when I see it (caveat: he can do it against guys of his stature of course).
We’ll close this section on saying Isaac Yiadom, Brendan Langley, and Marcus Rios are really fresh faces to the game which makes me very nervous about their ability to run the scheme Joe Woods likes to call for this defense. Hopefully one of the 3 turns into a man to man specialist who can hold the slot down like a boss. If not, we’ll be in quite a bit of trouble if the pass rush doesn’t get home quickly.
Will any of the Tight Ends really step up?
The most concerning thing to me about this training camp is that we’re not seeing a lot of targets going to any of the tight ends that tell us one of them is separating as “The Guy.” I’ll be more worried about this if we don’t see one of the really step forward in the first three weeks of the season, but it bears watching as we move further into the 2018 preseason.
I’m one of the more interactive writers on the site and usually take time to come back through all the comments and reply as I can (even if it is in the evening after work). I want to hear from you below. Comment with your thoughts. Add insights you’ve seen if you’ve been at any of the practices so far. The best thing about Mile High Report and my No Bull Review series is getting to dig in with each other and learn. Let’s get that Broncos spirit flowing!