I’m going to start off by saying that I’m cautiously encouraged by what the Broncos have shown so far in the preseason action we’ve gotten to see. They have in both games looked more talented, prepared, and hungry than the opposing teams.
Here’s where the caution comes in: the preseason doesn’t mean anything. We should beat teams by double digits when we start our starting QB and the other team doesn’t. When we have the majority of our starting offense on the field, they should be able to perform well and score touchdowns.
You really can’t argue in any way about the defense overall. They played sound football for 4 quarters and created multiple turnovers. That’s a recipe for success in the NFL. Even if we don’t have a top-tier QB on the team, no NFL team wants to play a team that can play defense as well as this unit appears to be playing.
DeShawn Williams was on a mission in this game to show the coaches his capability on the field. He was the #1 defensive player that flashed insofar as being involved in plays. He got a disgusting pick at the end of the half showing superb effort by the big man to make the reach and snag it before it hit the ground. He broke up a pass and recovered a fumble as well (with dreams of the endzone buzzing in his head for all of ½ a second which gave me a chuckle).
Jonathan Cooper also was showing off his ability as a pass rusher in the game. He got 2 sacks, a tackle for loss, 2 quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and a pass defense. That’s a hell of a stat line for a rookie OLB, preseason or not.
Justin Simmons kicks off the game with a gorgeous INT on the sideline. McGough never saw him in the flat and it cost him big time. This was a savvy play by Simmons who read the QBs eyes and knew instantly where the ball was going based on the route recognition he got post-snap.
Michael Ojemudia almost had a pick 6 at the end of the half and really should have made the catch. You can’t ask for a ball to be in a better place as a defender. He had a solid game with two pass defenses and still looks like a good NFL CB to my eyes. He’s going to be the 5th corner on the depth chart and that is probably correct from what I’ve seen...but with time he’ll push for a starting role (or replace a free agent that leaves which is far more likely).
There’s nothing really to complain about on the offensive side of the ball, either. When your team scores 23 points and gets some turnovers, that’s going to win a lot of football games. It was a solid all-around effort with a sound running game and some really nice sustained drives by the Broncos.
Teddy Bridgewater put together another superb-looking game with a QBR of 136. On 4th and 5, Bridgewater shows great patience, climbs the pocket, and delivers the strike to Jeudy across the middle for a huge gain. I loved his TD throw on 3rd and goal on the same drive. His accuracy was on point to get 6 on the board. He also threw a gorgeous corner route at the 1 for over 20 yards that was absolutely perfect.
The biggest worry I saw in this game was that the starters were losing to the Seahawk backups more often than not in the 1st half. The run game lacked some of the big holes it got last week and Bridgewater had to work the pocket (better than any QB the past 5 years mind you) to keep from getting sacked a few times.
There was nothing to write home about with any of the backs, but I will say that Royce Freeman looked good on the field. He was making good runs and catching out of the backfield. He looked like a solid backup option for the team, especially as a 3rd down back.
There weren’t a lot of targets to receivers we’ll be utilizing heavily to start the season. Jerry Jeudy is showing a play every game where he makes a small catch turn into a huge gain. \
The biggest thing I’m seeing is that the offense is utilizing more of the field at all levels and making the defense cover. Our receivers are going inside, outside, crossing the field, and going deep. Seeing an offense with no limitations is good, but the only question is going to be will that hold up with whichever quarterback starts?
Our bad coverage on returns has reared its head again. Given that we’ve kept the same ST coordinator for years now, this doesn’t surprise me in the least. Hopefully, the team won’t lose any games because of it or maybe will utilize better players during the regular season to hide the gaffes there.
I keep coming back to the phrase “cautiously optimistic.” This team is looking good on paper against backups. That’s as much as anyone can say with any serious weight about the Broncos in 2021.
The biggest thing is that as a fan, I’m hopeful that this team can be in the mix at the end of the season with a winning record and that’s a big step forward from how I felt going into last season.