Finally, we get some semblance of a fresh start with our beloved Denver Broncos. A new beginning in Broncos Country marked by a solid win (even if it was in essence a junior varsity scrimmage).
It is a preseason game where almost all of our starters sat. It is complicated by us not knowing Nathaniel Hacket or Ejiro Evero in their current roles.
What will the offense do fundamentally?
How aggressive is the defensive front?
Will we take risks on 3rd downs?
Getting to know these coaches is going to be a joy and it will take time. We can certainly learn a little bit about these types of questions in the preseason, but what we get is going to be very shallow in substance. A lot of the calls last night were pretty vanilla in nature. Base offense vs base defenses.
That being said, the team represented itself well and looked to be well coached. While the Dallas Cowboys continued their penchant for playing loosely with the rules leading well over 100 yards in penalties, the Broncos seemed to be well disciplined by contrast.
In the preseason I largely only care about the squads that are going to actually be on the roster in the regular season. Given that, the defense was astounding. They helped the Cowboy offense lay a big fat goose egg in the first half.
One could argue that that could be more the fault of a statue at QB who looked bad at most things you want an immobile QB to do in the NFL. I won’t argue that point at all.
Nevertheless, the Broncos can’t control who lines up against them on any given week and they took care of business.
Baron Browning really stood out to me in this game. He was flying around the field, penetrating the backfield of the Cowboys, and in general wreaking havoc. He had a TFL, PD, QH, and capped off his performance with a big sack in the 2nd quarter. I was one of those this offseason who was scratching his head about moving Browning from ILB to OLB and have to say in this one game against backups, he absolutely looked the part.
Seeing an injury happen to Jonas Griffith right off the bat was a heartbreaker. From everything we’ve seen, he’s been tearing it up for us in training camp and has firmly taken one of the starting ILB roles on the team. His dislocated elbow is going to be a 4-6 week recovery so at least we’ll see him back early in the season. This is a superb opportunity for Alex Singleton and Justin Strnad to get valuable reps with the 1s and make a statement to the coaches about their quality.
McTelvin Agim showed a really nice dominating pass rush to tip a pass and stop a drive. It is good to see a guy who can be impactful as a depth player on the team.
Michael Ojemudia had an up and down night, but the one play he gave up for a decent chunk of yardage didn’t cost us points. He still looks like a solid backup corner to me. We’re going to need him as the season wears on and he honestly looked sharp to me.
P.J. Locke broke on a pass early to get an INT on 4th down. It was a very solid job diagnosing the situation and making a play. It was definitely helped out by a smothering pass rush in the QB’s face rushing the play, but as they say, “ball don’t lie.”
This game comes down to execution. There’s not a lot to chew on as far as what the offense was doing. There were a lot of simple reads, vanilla calls, and practicing basic concepts and routes needed by anything predicated on the West Coast system we’ve been watching grow in the NFL for decades.
That being said, I liked the lean towards the pass game in the preseason. Lines aren’t going to be great with 2nd and 3rd stringers, so you won’t get solid runs anyway (look at the stat sheet).
I liked that both units were given some deeper plays to go to in order to show us all what they can do.
We’re used to seeing this level of play here in Broncos Country. We’ve been living it for 6 long years…backup quality NFL QBs, anyone?
Trash talking aside, I honestly thought we got to see a definite upgrade at the backup in Josh Johnson. Johnson made a big-time pass while taking a huge hit to throw a dime on the sidelines down the field for a big gain. He threw a very catchable ball with good touch on both of his TD throws. He seemed like a guy that knew exactly what he was doing (unlike recent years with guys always having a bit of a confused face going on any given play).
Rypien made a money throw to get out of 1st down on the 1 to kickstart their drive. His arm isn’t nearly as hot as Johnson’s, but he’s obviously been working on the timing of some of these routes with his receivers. It is a big deal that he didn’t finish his good drive with points, though. You are against the 3rd and 4th stringers and are inside the 10. That’s TD time if you are going to stick around as an NFL backup.
The one thing I wanted to see the most was our starting offensive line. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see that. The backups for both units didn’t do very well at run blocking while being somewhat consistent in pass blocking.
Max Borghi may be a small cat, but he’s a fierce runner. I know he’s a local favorite, but I have a hard time seeing him make an impact against a starting NFL defense. I thought he looked good as a runner, though and if we had a better line in front of him, my mind may change.
Mike Boone looked very underwhelming to me (like most of our run game, honestly). His runs didn’t do much more than what was blocked. He missed an easy dump-off pass that would have gained decent yards and a 3rd down conversion. He needs to show more in the next preseason game.
Brandon Johnson made a great play on a sideline go blocking out his defender with his body for a big gain early. He had a great night with 64 yards on 6 catches.
Seth Williams ran a great route, elevated, and made a beautiful catch for a touchdown. I liked his route on the play along with the understanding he had of the timing needed to make the play work.
I love seeing Kendall Hinton make plays and he made a great play to catch a TD in the 2nd quarter. He had a very solid night with 4 catches for 53 yards and a TD. He’s got a lot of competition at WR, but hopefully he can keep playing like this and keep himself on the depth chart for the Broncos.
Jalen Virgil got the Broncos out of a really bad spot with a burner of a route that got the broncos 40 yards. He has rocket boosters for legs and is the kind of player that can develop into a real weapon in the NFL. I’ll be looking for more out of him next week.
Montrell Washington showed exactly why this team drafted him with a very nice return taking a great angle to set the team up in very good field position. The sample size is small here, but it definitely looks like the team may have found its returner.
Week 1 of the preseason is honestly a joke as far as any serious analysis goes. We get some serious looks at the depth players on the team which is good. Guys are getting shots to show up on the field of play and that’s what the preseason is for.
Nevertheless, I’m giddy with what looks like a competent offense on our team finally as well. It feels good to see a solid win from the team where they looked better coached on both sides of the ball than their opponents.