Anticipation for a preseason game is about as rare as Colorado seeing snow in July.
But there is actual, real anticipation for the Denver Broncos preseason game on Thursday at the Seattle Seahawks (at least for me). This is the first time we get to see Joe Flacco in game action as the Broncos quarterback. That also means we get to see Rich Scangarello’s offense with most of the starters.
On the latest MHR Radio Podcast (ApplePodcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher), I told Adam Malnati that I’m looking forward to seeing Flacco and Denver’s offense face another defense. Yes, that remains the case even though the Seahawks won’t play most of their defensive starters and the offense will be a dumbed-down version.
“Of course, I’m sure that Joe is going to do an extremely good job and I look up to Joe Flacco a ton,” Broncos rookie guard Dalton Risner told the media after Tuesday’s practice. “Shoot, I think I might have been in middle school whenever he won the Super Bowl for the (Baltimore) Ravens. Being out here blocking for him is an honor. I take a lot of pride in blocking for him because I know that he knows what he’s doing and he works his butt off every day in practice. My job every day is to go out there and protect him.”
No one is asking or even expecting perfection. The best case scenario for the first preseason game is for Flacco and the offense to have a good drive. Complete a few passes, add a few runs, and, if we’re being greedy, end that drive with a touchdown.
“You just want to go get your feet wet a little bit,” Flacco said. “You want to feel live action again, bodies flying around you, guys getting hit and taking care of the football. Most importantly, you want to go out there and you want to move the ball. And you want to gain confidence as a group that you can go out there and do it when it counts.”
It never hurts when you have confidence, and Flacco and the offense have that from the strong practices they’ve strung together since before the Hall of Fame Game. Denver needs to build on that with the expectation it enters the regular-season opener with the Oakland Raiders firing at all cylinders.
“Once you start playing these games, it’s not quite as easy to go out there and run a million plays,” Flacco said. “Vic (Fangio) has done a good job kind of working us hard and resting us also around these games. We had a good amount of time off being the fact that we (most of the starters) didn’t play in the Hall of Fame Game. We came back and had two really good days.
“Now, this is a day where we kind of more got ready for Seattle. It’s just one of those things where you have to make the most of your reps when that starts to become the case. Because that’s how the season goes, too. Once the season starts, you’re not (in) training camp practices running 110 plays like we have been. So, you have to make the most of what we got. And I think we have a group that’s working toward getting better at doing it.”
At least for me, this is the first time I’ve wanted to see a preseason game since Peyton Manning’s first year in Denver (not quite on that level, but close). If Flacco and the Broncos offense have a good showing, there’s no doubt we will want more. If we get that, given how good the defense should be this season, the anticipation will build for when it matters most.