I know, it’s just pre-season. We all know it’s just pre-season. But it was only pre-season last year and the Broncos didn’t play very well. I don’t think I have to remind anyone how things turned out when the games counted.
Pre-season games don’t seem to matter much for great teams. They can go 0-4 and then roll through the regular season. But for a team like the Broncos that is trying to get back to the elite level, pre-season games matter. So far, I like what I see out of the Broncos.
First off, I like the vibe. I’m not sure how else to say it. The Broncos are confident but not cocky. They believe they’re good but they let their play do the talking. They are fairly young but nonetheless poised. They are respectful of their opponents but not fearful.
Secondly, I like their toughness. The way the Broncos battled and competed against the Cowboys, one of the best teams in the NFL, both in practice and in the game last week showed me a lot. It’s not as if I expected the Broncos to roll over but their tenacity and the way they refused to be intimidated at all impressed me.
Third, I like the way the offense is playing. The offensive line gave QB Jay Cutler time against Dallas. Cutler himself was sharp, completing his first 12 pass attempts and 16-of-20 overall. And the Broncos jumped out to a quick lead, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 advantage. Not that long ago, getting a quick lead was a huge part of the Broncos’ success. Perhaps that will be the case this year.
Fourth, the defense is showing signs of being pretty stout. D.J. Williams is flying around as an outside linebacker. Marcus Thomas and Dewayne Robertson could be a better pair of defensive tackles than any of us thought they would be. The secondary seems to be improved.
Fifth, I love the young players that are stepping up. Wide receiver Eddie Royal has been terrific. Offensive tackle Ryan Clady has shown the ability to make adjustments and take care of business. Running back Andre Hall has been tough. Thomas is coming on. Defensive end Elvis Dumervil seems to keep getting better. After a few drafts that didn’t produce much talent, the Broncos look like they’ve selected some tremendously talented players the past couple of years.
We all know pre-season is about running a basic offense against a basic defense. That was certainly the case a year ago and the Broncos played terribly against the Cowboys at the same point in the pre-season. In fact, the Cowboys physically manhandled them the entire week.
So if pre-season is all about being vanilla, why were the Broncos so much better all week against Dallas this year? Because the Broncos are have improved. They are a better team than they were a year ago.
I won’t make this more than it is. It’s pre-season and that means I temper my excitement. But there is no doubt I’m encouraged. It looks as if 2008 could be an extremely interesting year.
What do you think? Are the Broncos where you’d like them to be? I’d love to read what you think.