The Denver Broncos opened the 2014 preseason with a penalty filled victory over the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Outside of those penalties, there was a lot to like if you are a Broncos fan.
Let’s take a look at some of the good and the bad:
Things to like:
- DeMarcus Ware: The veteran free agent defensive end looked like he was 25 on Thursday night. He had a sack of Russell Wilson and three pressures. In addition, Ware stuffed a running play in the backfield. If he plays like that, this defense has chance to be special.
- Nate Irving and Danny Trevathan: There have been questions about the Broncos’ linebackers but they were both terrific on Thursday night. They made plays all over the field and were symbolic of the speed of the defense as a whole.
- Demaryius Thomas: Pay him NOW! He was easily the best player on the field in the first quarter, and was open all night. Even on the one play when he was covered, Thomas still made the catch between two Seahawks. The Super Bowl was a disaster but Thomas was terrific that day, and he was terrific again on Thursday night.
- Ryan Clady: It’s easy to forget how good Clady is until you see him back on the field. He makes the entire offensive line better because he doesn’t need help. Manning had a clean pocket most of the night and the return of Clady had a lot to do with that.
- Defensive line: We’ve been talking about the defensive line since the start of training camp, and it showed up in a big way versus the Seahawks. They got constant and consistent pressure on Wilson, and they are extremely deep. The starters were terrific and players like Quanterus Smith and Marvin Austin kept up that pressure. If the Broncos play with the lead a lot like we all expect, the defensive line is going to be very difficult to deal with.
- Young running backs: Both Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs looked good in the second half. They both made one cut and headed up field. Now I’m not ready to put them in with the first team, but it was a good start.
- Peyton Manning: He looked like he always looks; polished and ready for the regular season.
- Physical: Yes it was only a preseason game but if you’re a Broncos fan, then you have to like the attitude they played with. They defense was physical and flying all over the field.
Things not to like:
- The penalties: It was a typical first preseason game in terms of penalties. Part of it was the fact that it was the first game and part of it was the officials making a point. There are new rules involving contact with receivers and the officials went out of their way to prove that point.
- Running game: The Broncos ran the ball well in the second half but still struggled a little when the starters were in. Ronnie Hillman showed signs and had a nice run on the goal line, but there needs to be more consistency.
- Backup cornerbacks: The Broncos are set with their top three or four corners but the depth after that is shaky. Don’t be shocked if the Broncos look for a veteran once the cuts begin.
In the end, it was a typical first preseason game with a lot of mistakes. However the Broncos have to feel good about where they are in early August. Their free agent signings all played well, and the defense showed the physical attitude that everyone wanted to see.
It wasn’t revenge and it doesn’t take away from the pain of the Super Bowl, but it was a good start. Now it’s time to go back to work.