Even if it was just a preseason game, a win makes it all worthwhile. That doesn’t mean you should plan the Super Bowl parade, but it makes the time spent watching the game somewhat beneficial.
There was some good.
There was some bad.
It was, after all, the first preseason game with a new head coach and coaching staff. The Denver Broncos getting the 14-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons on some incredible late-game heroics is pretty cool. But what’s nice is we’re closer to the Sept. 9th regular-season opener against the Oakland Raiders. One down, four to go.
What’s even better is we’re now onto the main event — the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday.
On the MHR Radio Radio Podcast (ApplePodcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher), Adam Malnati and I were joined by Jess Place and Casey Barrett to react to the Broncos win. Here are the winners and losers from Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game. As is the norm, I’m sure there are players I missed, so please put them in the comments.
If there is any doubt the Broncos head head coach is an old-school badass, it’s now gone. Fangio coached his first game while also dealing with a kidney stone. You weren’t sure if he wanted to kick someone’s ass or pass a kidney stone (or both). Either way, it was great to see a competent coach on the sidelines for the Broncos again. There’s no way he’s satisfied, but as he told Dave Logan after the game: “I’m feeling fine. I know it’s a preseason game, but winning has cured more ills than penicillin.”
The rookie receiver from the University of Colorado did have a drop early in the game, but his 15-yard touchdown catch to win the game for Denver made up for it. That was a helluva catch, focus and play by Winfree. It should give him a great boost in confidence heading into practice and the second preseason game.
The first-year running back has been the player I’ve been most impressed with at training camp. He carried that over to the first preseason game with his quick burst and vision. The Broncos running back finished with seven carries for 51 yards and a touchdown, as well as four receptions for 24 yards. By the way, both led Denver. I would love to see Muhammad get a chance as a returner to use that quickness and vision. At the very least, Muhammad should make the practice squad.
The rookie defensive tackle had himself a night. Jones finished with three tackles, one tackle for loss and three quarterback hits. He consistently beat his man and was a major force of disruption for the Broncos defense. Look for him to get more reps with the No. 2 defense heading into the second preseason game. And talk about an awesome story: Jones played his first-ever game/scrimmage on the field he played his first NFL game.
His play on the opening series for Denver’s defense should have moved every fan forward in their seat. That play is what the Broncos hoped and wanted when they acquired him last year from the Washington Redskins. Cravens will need to do more of that if he wants to stick on Denver’s roster, but it was great to see.
The undrafted rookie from Nevada carried over his strong start to training camp to the first preseason game. As Reed has done over the first two weeks of camp, his play stood out. Just as Muhammad did and has done. For the game Reed finished with four tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one quarterback hit.
Mile High Salute for the way Broncos fans showed up in Canton for a preseason game. But you’re also on this list for not having to watch the incompetence of Vance Joseph any longer.
When a player is in the position the Broncos receiver is in, he has no room for error. It was a tough trek for Langley to make Denver’s roster before Thursday, after his muffed punt it gets even tougher. Same goes for Steven Dunbar, who had the other Broncos fumble.
I debated whether to put the rookie tight end in this category, but I’m taking a cue from Fangio. Fant has to be better and the drop on his first target was unacceptable. The first-round pick knows this and hopefully his first NFL game serves as motivation.
Denver’s rookie quarterback looked and played like a rookie in his first NFL game. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful either. It was a rookie quarterback playing in his first game. Lock finished 7-of-11 for 34 yards and took two sacks. As Fangio said, “I was hoping for more but not surprised. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.” You have to love the honesty from Fangio.
Added Lock: “It definitely could have gone better. I could have played better. But, hit a couple of (deep) throws and might be feeling a little different. But that didn’t happen, and gotta learn from it and move on from this.”