Good morning, Broncos Country!
It’s Preseason Week 1 which means the Broncos are facing off against the Seahawks tonight (8 p.m. Mile High Time), and despite what you may think about preseason games, there is actually a lot to pay attention to in the matchup.
And I would remind you to keep a healthy perspective about what is trying to be accomplished in a preseason game. It’s a lot more about coaches evaluating players, testing situations, considering player combinations, etc., than it is about winning the game - or even about scoring a bunch of touchdowns.
I am totally cool with that. The only reason I care even a little about who wins is that winning is good for team morale - as Vic Fangio pointed out last week after the game. No one was doing cartwheels over a 14-10 win, but no one was complaining about a ‘W’ either. Mostly, I want the team to work out the kinks in the preseason. Make the mistakes here, watch the film, fix it in practice and be ready to compete in the regular season. I don’t mind drops and mis-timed plays and missed assignments in the preseason - as long as they happen now and then begin disappearing by Week 1.
And truthfully, I love watching the guys who are fighting for roster spots get after it in preseason. The genuine excitement for the game is infectious.
So here’s what I’ll be excited to watch tonight:
1. Flacco, of course
It’s a little odd to say this, but I’m genuinely excited to watch Joe Flacco play - in a game, as a Bronco, working with his new offensive coordinator, throwing to a bunch of young receivers. It helps that I don’t expect anything amazing or flashy. But I don’t even want that. I want competence, and I’m very interested in watching how Flacco handles the huddle, deals with defensive pressure, works with an improving-but-still-learning O-line and basically “leads” his new team. Even if it’s just a series or two this week.
Preseason games may not reveal a ton of scheme, but they do offer unplanned game-like scenarios that provide great insight into how players will deal with important situations.
Flacco is seemingly Joe Cool in training camp, so I’m interested to see if that translates to the games as well. I know a lot of fans just want to get a look at Drew Lock - and I’ll enjoy watching him too - but honestly, I want to get a sense of what Broncos’ offense could be like this season before I get too keyed up on franchise QB talk.
And of course, watching the QB, means paying attention to the O-line too.
3. FWIW, no #Broncos player has managed to get to the facility before QB Joe Flacco. It‘s gotten to the point that some defensive guys have started a challenge to see if someone can beat Flacco into the building. Earliest attempt has been just before 6 am. Flacco was already in.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) July 31, 2019
2. Riddick, Muhammad, Jackson ... oh my!
We already know that our No. 1 and 2 backs are good. But now we have a whole group of backups who are speedy, shifty and have shown good field vision. Watching Khalfani Muhammad, Devontae Jackson and now Theo Riddick get some reps should make for an interesting running back competition.
Riddick would have to be terrible to not own the third-down back spot, but whether Muhammad or Jackson gets the RB4 designation is still to be decided.
Theo Riddick sipped out of the backfield for big gain on a pass in the flat from Flacco. The entire defense went left, Theo slid of the pocket to the right, caught it and had tons of green grass ahead of him.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensBSN) August 5, 2019
3. Catch the damn ball!
Drops have been an issue in training camp as well as in the Hall of Fame game, so I’ll be less interested in who is catching the ball and more interested in whether a) the ball was catchable and b) if so, did someone actually catch it?
But seriously, rather than worrying about whether Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton are going to get that prime time Pay Per View slot for their next bout, I’m more interested in which receivers consistently show they can run good routes and catch “all the throws.”
JuWann Winfree showed up for a big TD catch in a go-ahead score with 1:33 left in the game (after a TD catch from Kelvin McKnight was reversed due to a penalty). But there is a long list of wideouts trying to take one of the two or three receiver spots available, including Nick Williams, Steven Dunbar, former defensive back Brendan Langley,
And then there are still the tight ends! Austin Fort didn’t do much to impress last week after two weeks of great camp reports, but neither did first-round draft pick Noah Fant nor Troy Fumagalli.
With Flacco playing a few series for this preseason opener, it will be interesting to watch how offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello employs the young tight ends in the passing game - and whether the rank is starting to shape up.
As if that’s not enough pass catchers to watch, with this Scangarello verison of the Kyle Shanahan version of the Mike Shanahan offense, running backs and full backs are likely catching the ball too. Let’s see who can hold on to it.
Juwann Winfree is already working on his NFL highlights— Barstool Colorado (@CUBarstool) August 2, 2019
4. Interceptions, sacks galore
Although Broncos Twitter is going to focus on Paxton Lynch and making many lame jokes about video games or pirates or dumb dab dances, I couldn’t care less whether Lynch plays great or terrible. Frankly, I hope he does well in Seattle. Why not? It’s not like Broncos did right by him as a rookie, so fans shouldn’t blame the QB if he gets a fresh start on a new team and does well. That hate needs to die.
However, I won’t be mad if Broncos’ edge rushers pummel Lynch a few times or the defensive backs get an interception or two. It’s not personal, just football. As with the running backs, I’m just interested in watching what kind of depth is going to exist on this D and who will emerge as standouts for this defense - either now or in the year(s) to come.
Publicly players are saying "it's just another preseason game."— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) August 7, 2019
Privately some Broncos defenders are salivating at the thought of housing a Paxton Lynch INT
And speaking of standouts...
5. Dre’Mont Jones FTW!
The Broncos’ third-round draft pick was relatively invisible during training camp. As the backup to Derek Wolfe, he spent most of his time with the second and third-team defense, not providing much chance to make a big impression on the coaches.
But he changed that last Thursday night during the Hall-of-Fame game where his near-sack of Matt Schaub caused an interception, which he followed up soon after by tackling Falcons running back Qadree Ollison for a four-yard loss. Altogether, Jones had one sack, one TFL and three QB hurries. Not bad for a guy finally getting to show off.
Fangio noted that that kind of production is “valuable stuff. That’s what we were hoping for when we got him.”
Bradley Chubb has certainly seen enough to be impressed - and that’s a damn good recommendation.
“I love Dre’Mont. He’s one of those guys that came in as a rookie and he gets it. I feel like a lot of guys—even me, I was a little lost. But I feel like he gets it right away....He’s been great out here in the preseason,” Chubb said. “So, I hope he just continues to get better each and every day. I feel like as a unit, like I said — we’re all a team. So, if one guy is doing well, then we’re all going to be doing well.”
Dre’Mont Jones shines in NFL preseason debut for Broncos https://t.co/paPlzTIPex— Ohio State Buckeyes (@Buckeyes) August 2, 2019
Horse Tracks - docllv’s pick of the day
Broncos mourn the passing of former wide receiver John ‘Jack’ Dolbin
In his five years with the Broncos, Dolbin caught 94 passes for 1,576 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed nine times for 89 yards. His finest season came in the Broncos’ best year of the era, as well, when he started in 13 of 14 games in the 1977 season that ended in a Super Bowl XII appearance.
NFL's 100 best teams of all time: Who's greatest squad in history?
With the NFL kicking off its 100th season, we bring you the USA TODAY Sports top 100 all-time NFL teams. This begins a season-long project.
Denver Broncos: Team would like to keep Kareem Jackson at safety
If the Broncos' secondary stays healthy, the team plans to keep Kareem Jackson at safety.
Broncos Day 14 camp report: Offense provides defense ideal preparation
As the Broncos' offense has found its footing in the last two weeks of training camp, the team's defense has come to understand why the offensive scheme can help prepare them for the regular season.
Why even though Seahawks open preseason Thursday, don’t expect football - Field Gulls
Thursday night the Seattle Seahawks will open their 2019 preseason against the Denver Broncos in Week 1 of the preseason. For the Hawks it will be their first chance to take the field in an actual...
Seahawks-Broncos lineup notes: Geno Smith gets the start, D.K. Metcalf to make Seahawks debut - Field Gulls
The Seattle Seahawks completed a closed-doors walkthrough on Wednesday for Thursday’s 2019 NFL preseason opener against the Denver Broncos. As is customary in the preseason, starters and/or...
‘It almost broke me a couple of times’: Broncos TE Jake Butt opens up about difficult recovery from third ACL – The Athletic
Broncos tight end Jake Butt hasn't practiced in three weeks, but vows he will return from his third ACL injury.
Sanders vs. Sutton: Broncos practice punctuated by fight between their top receivers – The Athletic
An hour into practice, Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton went at it and had to be separated.
Broncos Camp Day 13 report: Mastering pass protection
Noah Fant, Austin Fort and the Broncos' other tight ends found themselves facing stern challenges in a one-on-one pass-protection drill Monday, but they showed progress from rep to rep.
Josey Jewell exits Monday's practice early
Head Coach Vic Fangio also provided updates on Jake Butt and DaeSean Hamilton.
NFL: Broncos' John Elway sees early why Vic Fangio works
Seven months ago, one Broncos staffer told Yahoo Sports on the eve of Fangio’s interview last January that he wasn’t sure the coach had “the juice” to be a head coach. Now? “I love the guy,” the staffer said recently. “I’m all in.”
Broncos notes: Flacco comfortable in orange and blue; Fangio puts rookie Lock in perspective | 9news.com
Joe Flacco will be the starting quarterback tonight but won't play much against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Kevin Hogan will remain the No. 2 quarterback, but also will only play a series or two.
Kiszla: Why new Broncos quarterback Flacco will be Joe Cool
When Elway claims Flacco is in his prime at age 34, it sounds suspiciously like fake news. But Flacco has indeed won 96 regular-season NFL games and thrown 212 touchdown passes, as well as being named the most valuable player of Super Bowl XLVII, during his 11-season professional career. That’s not exactly chopped liver.
Analysis: Six things to watch in the Seahawks’ first preseason game Thursday
The backup QB battle will take center stage Thursday as Russell Wilson will sit out Seattle's preseason opener against Denver.