One of the hardest things to do is to evaluate preseason football. Teams keep play calling pretty vanilla. They protect their front line players. There is little, if any, talk of winning the games.
Yet here we are, halfway through the preseason. The Broncos have lost to the Bengals and the Lions, with games against the Steelers and Vikings still to come. I am left with several impressions.
1 – OVERALL, I LIKE WHAT I’VE SEEN FROM THE BRONCOS’ FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE. I know, the running game has been largely MIA, but I am only mildly concerned at this point. The Broncos running back corps has been missing Correll Buckhalter, Knowshon Moreno and LenDale White for all of training camp.
The offensive line is getting healthier with Chris Kuper back on the practice field and Ryan Clady starting to work his way back. The young guys up front, J.D. Walton and Zane Beadles, have shown promise.
The Broncos have not made it a point to try to run the ball much during the preseason so the lack of production in this area is understandable. We all know they’ll have to crank up the rushing attack when the regular season begins and I’m confident they’ll be effective in that department when they need to be.
Quarterback Kyle Orton has been terrific in his preseason action. Great quarterback play has a way of masking issues and if Orton is able to perform at this level when the regular season begins, the Broncos could be in store for one interesting season.
2 – BRANDON WHO? Don’t get me wrong, Brandon Marshall is a talented player. He’s a really talented player. But this Broncos’ receiving corps is looking better and better. Jabar Gaffney continues to show that he could very well be a go-to guy. The sample size at the end of last year was small, but he was productive down the stretch.
Brandon Lloyd is looking more and more like a guy ready to take advantage of a great opportunity to contribute. There is no question that Gaffney and Lloyd aren’t exactly marquee names when it comes to NFL wide receivers. But they are talented and experienced. And they seem to be developing a good chemistry with Orton. Are they big-time playmakers? Time will tell.
I also really like the possibility for draft picks Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, assuming they stay healthy. I absolutely love Thomas, even though he hasn’t played in the first two preseason games. And I really like Decker, too. He could also be a guy who contributes.
Oh yeah, the Broncos also have a guy named Eddie Royal. He seems well-suited to the slot position and after a lost season a year ago when the Broncos couldn’t or didn’t get him the ball enough, Royal could be poised for a big year. Some people are alarmed by the low number of targets Royal has received this preseason. Not me. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if that were by design.
And let’s not forget guys like Brandon Stokley and Matthew Willis. It will be interesting to see which receivers make the final roster and which ones don’t.
I know Brandon Marshall is no longer here. But I’m not as concerned about that as I once was.
3 – HOW EFFECTIVE WILL THE PASS RUSH BE? Again, I know it’s just the preseason. But I would still like to see a little more in this area before the regular season starts in Jacksonville.
I love what Jamal Williams and Justin Bannan have brought to the defensive line. But those guys are the ones who do the dirty work. They occupy linemen and free things up for other guys on defense to make big plays.
We’ve seen Robert Ayers and Jarvis Moss start to make their marks. I know those guys have the ability to continue that. And they’ll have to with Elvis Dumervil being out for a significant period of time, perhaps all season.
A great pass rush does so much for a defense. I’m not yet sure how good the Broncos’ rush will be.
Certainly there are other areas which cause reasons to be optimistic and which also raise questions as the Broncos wind down the preseason. What are some of your thoughts to this point? I appreciate your reading and posting your thoughts. I will post again once the regular season roster is set.
Tags: 2010, Brandon Stokley, Chris Kuper, Correll Buckhalter, Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, Eddie Royal, J.D. Walton, Jamal Williams, Jarvis Moss, Justin Bannan, Kyle Orton, LenDale White, Matthew Willis, Mike Rice, Robert Ayers, Ryan Clady, Zane Beadles