As is the case with all preseason games, there was good and bad (thanks John Madden).
The key is to not get carried away in the reaction to either. It is, after all, the second preseason game that is really the first for the Denver Broncos. This was the first game action for most of the starters, and it went about how you would expect in this situation with a new head coach and coordinators.
But as Adam Malnati and I talked about on the MHR Radio Podcast (ApplePodcasts and Spotify), there was definitely some encouraging aspects of the 22-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and some things the Broncos need to get figured out.
Here are the winners and losers from Thursday’s game. As always, there are bound to be players I miss, so please highlight them in the comments.
The veteran quarterback made his first start for the Broncos, and this is one of the most encouraging facets of the game. It may not have been “elite,” but to move the ball on the first drive in the first game and be in position to score a touchdown is a great sign. There are definitely some things that need to get fixed — see Flacco’s errant pass to Courtland Sutton in the end zone. But the drive should encourage Flacco and the offense and also build their confidence heading into the joint practices and next preseason game with the San Francisco 49ers.
The rookie quarterback looked and played much better against the Seahawks. The late touchdown drive Lock led was also encouraging and great to see. Vic Fangio certainly noticed. “I thought he threw it pretty damn good.”
The undrafted rookie from Nevada continues to flash — as he has throughout training camp and in the Hall of Fame Game. We know Denver has the Orange Rush in Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, but depth at the edge position is so important. Reed is looking as if he could be one of the guys to replace Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray. Reed finished Thursday’s game with four tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit. It’s the rookie’s second sack of the preseason.
To keep the rookie theme going, the left guard was damn good for the second-straight game. Risner’s block on Royce Freeman’s 50-yard run was impressive. It showed what the Broncos could have in Risner for the foreseeable future and that’s a franchise offensive lineman. It’s a sight for sore eyes in these parts given the struggle to find dominant offensive linemen. I’ll also throw in center Connor McGovern for his block and Andy Janovich getting to the second level. Broncos Country should hope Janovich’s MRI comes back negative on his chest. Update: Janovich will miss six-eight weeks with a strained pectoral muscle.
Denver’s starting defense
What the Broncos showed on Thursday is what they have shown throughout training camp ... the potential to be an elite defense. I need to follow my own advice here and not get too carried away, but I do have a great feeling about Fangio, defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and what they’ll get out of Denver’s defense.
The only reason the undrafted rookie from the University of Wyoming is on this list is because of his ACL tear. Fort was having a great camp and making the tight end battle very interesting. Here’s to a successful rehab and returning next season just as strong.
Feel horrible for Austin Fort. He was having a great camp for the #Broncos and made a great catch on a great pass from Lock. It just sucks.— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) August 9, 2019
Death by inches
As Adam said on the podcast, fans suffered from death by inches in the second half. The Broncos had way too many mental mistakes — penalties, poor tackling and drops, to name a few. The starters and at least the No. 2s in the first half looked good, but holy cow the second half was, to put it kindly, not good. It’ll be interesting to see how Fangio and the coaching staff respond over the next week to get the depth guys refocused. In terms of the penalties, Denver finished with 11. Methinks Fangio won’t like that.
Brad Allen and his crew were awful. I get it was the first preseason game for them as well, but that showing, in the words of former Broncos receiver Brandon Stokely, was brutal. Perhaps I’m jaded for how late I was up, but come on man, 26 penalties? Very rarely will I ever put officials on this list, but when it’s warranted they’ll make it.
Denver’s special teams
This is the most concerning negative out of this game and it needs to get figured out. I don’t want to bring back referring to this unit as just the “teams,” but the Broncos are leaving me no choice if this continues. “Special” is earned and Denver is not right now. And John Elway might need to bring in another punter because Colby Wadman did not have a good night.
In the words of Benjamin Allbright on Twitter:
“Paxton’s game is built for this. ‘Mobile with big arm guy’ always looks good in sandlot preseason games against future insurance salesmen.” Good for Lynch he got the win in his Super Bowl and played “well,” but it’s not anything he hasn’t shown before. Look up his stats in his final preseason game for the Broncos vs the Arizona Cardinals. Good for us Ryan Edwards did.
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