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Repeat after me: “It is just the preseason”

The Denver Broncos have a big hill to climb to get back to respectability after back-to-back awful seasons. Let’s try to keep perspective with what these games are and what they are for.

San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

I had the pleasure of getting to attend Monday Night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night (this week’s No Bull Review will cover that in more detail) and being there talking with other fans / listening to what they were saying before, during, and after the game left me a bit taken back.

See, I live in a No Bull world when it comes to the Broncos.

I love the game and I love this work I do to share with all of you out there in Broncos Country...but I have my niche and I stick to it. I don’t do hot takes. I don’t make mountains out of mole hills. I’m not going to slap stuff on the front page of MHR just to garner clicks. I focus on the players that are going to make the team.

What I do though is focus on the little useful nuggets you can learn if you open your eyes, listen with your ears, and pay attention in the preseason.

But let me tell you brothers and sisters out there...I’m by far the minority here in Broncos Country that is doing that.

Turn on the radio and it is just nothing but asinine hot take after hot take about how terrible our Special Teams is, how bad our offensive line is, how badly we need to go find a new [insert position here] because our team did [insert poor facet of the 2nd half of a preseason game].

I implore you, Broncos Country:


Take a deep breath.

Repeat after me:

“It is just the preseason.”

Let me remind you of some No Bull truths on the Denver Broncos that will give you solid ground from which to work:

No Bull Truth #1: This team is being rebuilt from smoke and ashes

John Elway tapped Vance Joseph to run the team as head coach for not one, but two seasons and that guy flat-out was NOT ready. He was completely out of his depth as a coach, let alone a head coach.

He didn’t understand jack squat about how to develop players.

He didn’t know how to stand up to Elway and do what was right instead of what would protect draft capital.

He didn’t know how to be a leader that the players would buy in to.

The state of this team was left in dire condition with no clear starting QB, no serious development for 2 straight years of our roster, and a team that was left jaded to coaches because they could see right through the pretenders on the thrones.

No Bull Truth #2: Our roster has deficiencies

I already mentioned the lack of serious development which is a legitimate concern (though you could argue these guys are professionals and should be developing whether the coaches suck or not and I would agree with you to some extent).

But let’s not forget for one second that the biggest weakness John Elway has brought to the Broncos with his career as a GM to date is lackluster drafting. He’s missed quite often on 2nd and 3rd round guys.

We’re about to add Demarcus Walker and Garett Bolles to that list of guys in that category that don’t pan out which is going to make the 2017 draft class a front to back complete bust.

Elway has been able to plug holes pretty well through free agency (which is a definite strength of his resume to date that is not debatable). But until we get a couple more years of decent drafts like what the front office started figuring out what to do right in 2018, we will have some bumpy years with the depth of our roster.

No Bull Truth #3: Smart coaching staffs don’t show much in the preseason

This is one that really blows me away because it is so easy to see if you just look at plays being ran on both sides of the ball.

The offense is really basic 1-2 read route concepts on one side of the field or the other at most (and oftentimes is a designed dump off to a player in the flat).

The defense is mostly ran in base calls and no complexity whatsoever. Yes, you can catch linemen stunting here and there or a blitz from a secondary player on a run down from time to time, but mostly the game plan is very simple.

No Bull Truth #4: This isn’t likely a playoff team

I love this team and I love cheering for them, but the reality is that Vic Fangio is probably going to need more than one year to get them in shape to really make a serious push at the playoffs (especially in this division).

He has to develop a team into new systems both offensively and defensively. He has to get them to buy in all the way (because they haven’t really yet...that’s just not how it works).

And he has to get Elway to fill out the roster with more actual NFL football players.

We might sneak into a wild card spot (which I would absolutely love and would accomplish that buy in from the players I talked about above), but it isn’t likely to happen at all.

Final Thoughts

This preseason is about building blocks. It is about installing new systems and getting guys on the same page with the coaches. It is about separating the wheat from the chaff of this 90 man roster and finding out which guys this coaching staff can dig in with this year and go to battle with week 1 against the Raiders.

Don’t read so much into the 2nd half of a preseason game. Too much bad football is being played by both sides for it to mean too much.

Don’t itch for red zone excellence. Why would you ever use your high percentage red zone schemed plays in the preseason so teams have film on them if you were calling the shots?

Don’t get too wrapped up in how ready our rookie QB is for NFL action (spoiler alert: he’s far from ready to win).

Cheer your team on and look for the solid progress we’re seeing. The starting defense is running base looks 95% of the time and absolutely smothering opposing offenses. The offense has shown some signs of big plays (holding penalties aside) in both the run and pass game that weren’t crazy complicated play calls.

Real football will be here soon.

I promise.

Broncos News

49ers 24, Broncos 15: Observations
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Lesser NFL Teams’ News

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Football Outsiders is the internet home for Innovative Statistics and Intelligent Analysis of the NFL and college football. Our writers, led by Aaron Schatz, also provide content to and write the annual book Football Outsiders Almanac.