I think Broncos Country just sighed a sigh of relief. After a really smelly game against the Buffalo Bills last week, the Denver Broncos put together a solid effort all around against the Minnesota Vikings in the final preseason game.
Let’s not take too much meaning from this game. Sure, the talking heads like to spout off how these players are playing for their chance or putting tape out for other teams. That’s true in a few cases, but mostly that’s just us saying things to feel hope.
Most of the roster was set far before the first snap of the game. I’m excited to see these depth players do their best on the NFL field though. Let’s dig in and see what we see.
The defense looked much more stout this week. We didn’t see the front 7 get consistently pushed around this week. Our coverage guys weren’t superb, but they kept a lid on the other team. We saw impactful plays, guys ripping at the ball consistently, and some nicely executed play calls that likely get turnovers if a starter is out there instead of a backup.
McTelvin Agim really had himself a game. I don’t know if it is enough, but he’s the one guy that I point to in this game as a player that may have changed his future on the roster. He was disruptive with great push up the middle and was consistently getting in the way of the QB’s passing lanes. Honestly, 2 FF, 2 PD, and a sack is a great stat line for any linemen. Sure it was against backups, but NFL-quality players should look good against backups.
Kana’i Mauga had a pretty decent game as well. He shot through the line for a big TFL in the 2nd quarter. He also had a really nice coverage play getting a pass defense. He looked like a guy that you want on your practice squad.
Baron Browning has the play of the preseason with a groovy stunt off the right side that disrupted the QB long enough for Agim to force the strip sack. He scooped the fumble and housed it in short order. I’m excited to see what Browning can do this season. My eyes tell me he’s a guy that has the potential to be a consistent playmaker off the edge.
Nick Bonito got some solid play in the 2nd half. He looked like a force off the edge using his speed and ability to force 2 sacks, 2 QHs, 1 TFL, and led the team in tackles. He needs some NFL size which is going to take a season, but he’s got the technique and ability to develop as a real weapon at Edge for the Broncos.
Delarrin Turner-yell also flashed to me in the game. On a 4th and goal late, he came on a blitz late to seal the play and force the turnover on downs. He was making plays that showed his blossoming safety talents in making the right read quickly, then decisively attacking the ball.
J.R. Reed had a great pass break up on 3rd down. He also impressed me with his ability to break downfield on runs to make the tackles in the middle of the field.
We didn’t set the world on fire, but in a choppy game, you take your 23 points and the W when your defense is playing good football. We ran the ball well (finally), had efficient passing, and only had one turnover deep that didn’t really cost the team much.
The announcers really seemed to try to downplay Rypien’s INT, but let’s be honest: it was awful. He was reading one player on the play and should have moved on with the tight coverage that was there. Even then, he didn’t get the ball to the right spot with enough heat to give his receiver a chance at the ball and it cost the team.
Josh Johnson didn’t really wow, but at least he didn’t turn the ball over. At the end of the day, I think Johnson’s arm strength is enough to solidify his position as backup QB. I’ve pointed out Rypien’s weakness there the past couple of seasons, and I think it is a liability against starting quality NFL players.
We finally saw some solid run blocking up front which led to the running backs looking far more effective. A lot of the credit goes to Graham Glasgow who was killing it at guard for the Broncos. We had our best running game of the season by far and the credit goes to the lanes being opened up all game long by our big nasties up front.
Mike Boone with nice runs early showing his capability. He’s got the look of a potent 3rd down back with ability to catch out of the backfield and sneaky speed on the edge. I’m excited to see what he can bring to the team this season as I think he’s got the potential to really catch teams off guard.
Seth Williams had a superb game. His go route down the sideline in the 2nd quarter was a super job leaping to reel in a ball that was slightly overthrown.
I loved seeing the end around by Montrell Washington. He got a good lead block on the play by Andrew Beck and turned on the jets to get the easy TD run.
Brandon McManus got a workout this week and it was good to see him consistently knocking 3 points in for the Broncos all game long.
The punting battle is now known with Corliss Waitman winning the job. I think Sam Martin lost his job by getting a dumb injury at the end of the day. I didn’t see much separation from either of them and when that happens you usually see the veteran get the job. There’s something to be said for the paychecks involved though. The Broncos are saving a lot of cap by going with the young gun.
I’m ready for Week 1. Let’s see who this team really is and what they can do.
Best of luck to all the guys who suited up for the team this offseason. Broncos Country will be cheering for you no matter where you end up!