What a great start to the 2018 NFL season for the Denver Broncos, their fans, and the players. Maybe I’m just jaded from two years of terrible quarterbacking and offensive coordination, but I have to say I was thrilled with what we saw in this game from the team.
The improvements on the offensive side of the ball changed the way the defense played (playing close makes teams have to pass which plays to their pass rushing strengths).
I didn’t expect as many turnovers, but I was only one point off on my score prediction for this game. It looked exactly like I thought it would: 2 good NFL teams playing competitive football in week 1.
There’s good and bad with the defense from this game, but it is mostly good. Also, you have to be lenient in my opinion as a fan with your team in the beginning of the season.
Coaching wise, I have only one head-scratching thing to point out: why in the heck are you asking Bradley Chubb to drop back and man cover guys? This is a prime example of trying to fit a player to your scheme instead of adjusting your scheme to fit your players. I know Chubb is a superb athlete, but the dude played all over the line in college. He wasn’t asked to man up on tight end threats at any frequency and I’m pretty sure it may be a bit early to have him doing that in his first year. But heck...what do I know? I’d still rather see Shaquil Barrett starting over him regardless of his draft position.
Von Miller can take this team back to the playoffs. If the Broncos as a team can keep playing solid football and stay in games, Miller is the kind of elite player that can just flat-out win games for you by causing sacks and turnovers. Also let me point out that when this team plays teams like Seattle and Carolina, they are NOT going all out for sacks. They always form a strong edge pocket around the passer, then collapse in which takes longer, but removes the scramble from being an option for great running talents like Russell Wilson and Cam Newton.
I’m a big fan of the front line rotation and depth we see up front from this team. We got good play from Adam Gotsis with two passes batted down. Bradley Chubb got a half a sack, a solid quarterback hit in and was in on a few tackles. Derek Wolfe had a monster TFL and was as always doing the dirty work on the inside to help free up pass rushers as well as eat space in run defense like Domata Peko.
But of anyone not named Von Miller on the front 7, we need talk about Todd Davis. Davis had probably the best game of his NFL career from what my eyes saw. He made 8 solo tackles, had a QB hit, and was absolutely in position in pass defense when the Seahawks schemed him out on a RB (this was a big problem for Davis last year). Sure it is just one game, but big props to Davis for sharpening up his game and leading the team in tackles week 1.
Brandon Marshall had a far better game in week 1 than we saw from him in the preseason action. He was in on 6 tackles and also didn’t look like a liability against the pass.
Let me tout Shaquil Barrett again for you: He only played in 4 snaps in the game. Of those 4 snaps, all he did was get 2 tackles (one of them a TFL), 1 sack, and one quarterback hit. Want to question Joe Woods? Look no further. Woods should be starting the starting quality player and having the rookie learn the ropes in rotation.
What really stood out to me was Adam Jones stepping in early and often to help this defense and being trusted to handle 67% of the snaps in the game. The guy got a pick, a pass defensed, and a TFL along with 2 tackles. He was all over the place on a defense that had a big worry coming into the season at CB depth.
Chris Harris Jr. was absolutely outstanding. I’ve heard a couple people mention the long TD as being on him and that’s nonsense. Sadly, it was Justin Simmons who blew the coverage on that play. CHJ as always played with perfect leverage and leaning on his safety help that he expected to be there. Also, Woods dialed up his number on the nickel CB blitz. It was a gorgeous play call that had Von Miller occupy blockers to give CHJ the edge and it worked to perfection.
Speaking of Simmons, outside of that one big play he misplayed, he had a very strong game with a superb interception and a pass defense.
Darian Stewart also had a solid game. He was in on 3 tackles and a half a sack with a quarterback hit. I liked how they mixed Stewart and Simmons in coverage and kept the Seahawks guessing on which of them was staying back or playing in the box on any given play.
Let me just say that it was a breath of fresh air to see our team use tons of personnel, pre-snap motion, and varied play calling to keep the Seattle defense on their toes. Bill Musgrave gets a big check mark from me for his first game as our offensive coordinator. It was the first time in a long time where I couldn’t predict exactly where the ball was going over half the time through the course of a Broncos game.
Case Keenum worried me quite a bit with his interceptions. I went back and took a look at each to see what the problems were:
- This looked like a timing route deeper down the field. Keenum should have noted where the safety was on this play and checked him before letting the pass fly. The only way those kind of routes work is if you look off the safety or see them reading a different route with their eyes.
- The was a longer play where Keenum was just trying to get rid of the ball and never should have thrown it. The defender had leverage and Keenum would have been better off scrambling or taking a sack.
- I have no idea what Keenum was thinking on this play. There were 2 defenders in the area with one of them in prime position to defend Sanders who doesn’t have the same kind of jump ball skill you want if you are going to throw a 50/50 ball up for grabs.
That being said, Keenum had a lot of good plays too. I was impressed with his accuracy short to medium range and how he ran the offense to take what Seattle’s scheme was giving him (which is the only way you can beat a Pete Carroll defense).
That was a damn fine performance from the offensive line. Sure there were a couple of penalties. Yes, Matt Paradis allowed a sack. But overall, the big guys up front held it down in both he run game and in pass protection.
Probably my favorite thing about the line play in this game is that I didn’t notice Jared Veldheer at RT at all. That’s amazing, outstanding, and exciting for a position that in recent years has been a complete turnstile.
Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman were absolutely huge improvements in the running game as far as raw talent goes for the Broncos. Lindsay has that speed / quickness combination that absolutely kills in the NFL. Freeman has the power build with sneaky agileness that also kills. What I like most about these two guys is how differently teams need to prepare for their styles. Lindsay being a smaller player usually means he won’t run inside, but some of his best runs were inside runs. Freeman also was used outside as well as in and both of them have the overall ability to do anything this offense needs from a RB.
Can anyone tell me again what Davontae Booker is doing taking 19 snaps in this game? He doesn’t have half the talent of the other two guys and reminds me a ton of one of MHR’s most cherished players: Lance Ball (shout out hondolo wherever you are my man!).
Honestly, I think there’s a high likelihood of Denver making a move at RB as we get into the season. We have to stop keeping players just because they’ve played for a couple of years.
Emmanuel Sanders is going to have a beast of a season in this offense. When you have a QB like Keenum who can throw really accurately on quick routes, Sanders is going to be absolutely uncoverable.
Is it just me or are we seeing a change in the game style of Demaryius Thomas? I still see a guy that has lost some speed. He’s more of a possession receiver at this point like what we’ve seen from Anquan Bolden who runs great routes and has the physicality and length to beat guys in tight coverage.
We didn’t see a ton of targets to the TEs and RBs, but the few that Keenum passed out were solid contributions with Lindsay scoring, Jeff Heuerman getting a nice 15 yard gain and Jake Butt having a few nice routes.
Look for more Courtland Sutton as the season wears on. He was the 3rd highest targeted receiver and was in good spots to make plays but just didn’t connect on a few of them.
Talk about solid. The special teams unit all around was some of the best special teams play we’ve seen in a couple of years. The coverage unit especially did an exceptional job playing disciplined, fast, and with good tackle form consistently.
You also have to love seeing Brandon McManus going 2-2 on field goals with one of them being over 50.
There’s plenty to like and not like from week 1, but honestly most teams are in the exact same place. The Broncos look like a team that is going to play competitive football against everyone which is a marked improvement over what we saw from them in the 2017 season.
Hit us up in the comments and share your thoughts. Are you excited by the young talent? How worried are you about Case Keenum’s 3 picks? What worries you about the defense?
What was your favorite part of the game against the Seattle Seahawks in week 1?
This poll is closed
Competent offensive football from our offensive coordinator
Young blood running the rock well
Dat pass rush, DOE! Von Miller #MVP
The revamped No Fly Zone
The Broncos had dogs everywhere...offense, defense, special teams, and on the sidelines
Straight Shasta baby
Not a damned thing...I’m a Seachicken fan or a AFC West rival and I love to eat my boogers.