Let me begin with a well-worn but appropriate qualifier. All together now…“It’s only one preseason game….”
Now that the formality is out of the way, the Broncos have to be thrilled with how the preseason started in Thursday’s 31-3 win over the Bears. I know, it means nothing in the standings. See the qualifier above.
But the game does mean something when it comes to getting an idea of where the Broncos stand. It means something when it comes to getting a glimpse of their overall talent. It means something when it comes to continuing to claw their back towards the top of the NFL.
Make no mistake, I’m not a huge fan of preseason football. It’s necessary but it’s not usually that compelling. I was, however, interested in Thursday’s preseason opener. I was also anything but disappointed in what I saw, which included:
1) A QUARTERBACK THAT STILL HAS PLENTY LEFT IN THE TANK. Ever since the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, I have not been all that worried about his health or his ability to play at a high level. First off, every NFL player is one big hit away from having his career end. More than one team of doctors pronounced Manning fit to resume his career. Secondly, there is no way he would have resumed it if he didn’t believe he could still play at a high level. Why would he bother to come back if he knew he couldn’t, at some point, at least get close to the way he has always played?
Even though defensive lineman Julius Peppers and linebacker Brian Urlacher didn’t play for the Bears, I loved what I saw the Broncos’ do on their first drive. That drive simply confirmed my belief that Manning will be really fun to watch this year. As he gets more snaps, he’ll only get better. He is still amazing and there is a little part of me that still finds it a touch surreal that he is wearing Broncos’ colors.
2) A DEFENSE THAT COULD BE REALLY GOOD. Again, we all know the Bears didn’t play three of their offensive stars in quarterback Jay Cutler, running back Matt Forte and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. But the Broncos absolutely dominated the game on defense. Seriously, the Bears hardly mounted any kind of legitimate offensive threat. As things stand now, we know the Broncos’ defense is likely going to be pretty good against another team’s second-teamers and below. Given where the Broncos’ defense has been in the not-so-distant past, this is actually something of an accomplishment.
I like the feel of where this defense is and where it can go. While reps were somewhat limited for some of the starters, I love the revamped secondary. I love what I saw out of Derek Wolfe up front. I love the attacking style…and remember, teams usually stick with very basic schemes in the preseason.
I hesitate to even bring up statistics from a preseason game but the Bears had only 132 yards of total offense and averaged a microscopic 2.7 yards per play. I know, it’s only one preseason game against a team that held out three prominent offensive players. But it’s a great start.
3) THE FEELING OF HOPE AND OPTIMISM ABOUT CONTINUING THE TURNAROUND SEEMS TO HAVE A FOUNDATION. This is a big picture point. It is one thing to see a team make some moves in the offseason and think those moves were pretty good. It is something else entirely to start to see that the moves were actually good ones based on what is happening on the field.
Admittedly, the Broncos have a ton of work to do. One more time…as we all know, they are one game into the preseason. I won’t get too excited or too down about much of anything.
But I was encouraged to see the Broncos play a good game. If they hadn’t, I would still believe they made some offseason moves to improve their team.
All they can do is go play well against whoever steps on the field for the opposition. The Broncos did just that. I believe it’s better to be in that place than in the place of explaining why a 31-3 preseason loss doesn’t matter that much in the first place.
What players stood out to you in the Broncos win? Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.
Tags: Mike Rice