Denver let this one slip away.
Thursday’s night outcome was all too familiar to Broncos fans; defensive miscues and blown coverage result in a loss. Thank goodness this was only the first preseason game, a rough dress rehearsal for next month’s opening weekend.
Yes, a loss is a loss – even preseason – but there’s the Oakland Raiders blowout loss and there’s the competitive-until-the-end loss.
At least this was the latter. John Fox told The Denver Post:
“I was encouraged by what I saw. But I was disappointed by the outcome.”
You and me both.
It’s perhaps unfair to dissect the Broncos’ play after one preseason game, especially following a mere two weeks of training camp in an offseason sans OTAs, but I will anyway. Why the heck not, right?
What I liked
Denver’s first-team rushing attack – RB Knowshon Moreno is keenly aware of the pressure to succeed. No player wants to hear the word ‘bust’ attached to his name. Entering the season in the best shape of his career, Moreno made an impact in his lone series, rushing for 23 yards on four attempts. Partner-in-crime Willis McGahee contributed a 12-yard run on the opening drive, finishing the night with 17 yards on two carries. Staying with the ground theme…
Playing much of the second half, Jeremiah Johnson led the Broncos with 28 yards and a touchdown. Johnson, who’s battling Lance Ball, Brandon Minor, and LenDale White for playing time (and a spot on the roster) made a strong argument on his behalf.
Safety Kyle McCarthy’s 2nd quarter sack of Dallas third-string QB Stephen McGee was among Denver’s defensive highlights. DE Jason Hunter had Denver’s other two sacks.
The Broncos first-team defense surrendered yards early, but once in the red zone, flustered QB Tony Romo’s offense. Dallas came away with only a field goal.
This just in: Von Miller is fast.
Brady Quinn, you're not so bad after all. (Courtesy Jeffrey Beall)
I typically refrain from using words such as ‘determined’ or ‘impressed’ when describing Brady Quinn, but that ends here. My critique of Quinn dates back to his days at Notre Dame; I thought he was overrated, and I took joy from his uncomfortable NFL Draft wait four years ago. Even so, I felt sorry for Quinn last year. It was obvious Josh McDaniels wanted little to do with him, creating an unhealthy situation for the former starting quarterback whose NFL experience was in Cleveland, where, as a longtime friend once told me, “dreams go to die.” Now refreshed with a better outlook on his future, Quinn is a bona fide NFL backup – if not more. (Yeah, you read correctly). Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions here, but he should not be third on a depth chart. That’s not to suggest Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow be demoted at Quinn’s expense. As for those words ‘determined’ and ‘impressed,’ both appropriately define Quinn’s play Thursday night.
What I disliked:
Sloppy 4th quarter third-team defense cost the Broncos the win. Dallas converted on two fourth-downs in the game’s final two minutes, including a fourth-and-goal with :15 remaining. The Cowboys also connected on the decisive two-point conversion, capping off a drive the defensive-minded Fox certainly didn’t want to see.
The Broncos’ first-team offense and defense were one and done, not surprising for the opening preseason game. Still, I wanted more, especially on the defensive end. Next week, I suppose…
The lack of depth at offensive line. Here’s hoping the Broncos front office is scanning the waiver wire as we speak.
Denver had 10 penalties for 85 yards – three coming on a single play: a wild run left, scramble right, and short-yet-illegal-forward-pass by Tebow. Did those dastardly jitters strike the Broncos last night? Sure, I’ll blame that.
I know Orton isn’t a running quarterback, but why didn’t he tuck and run on second-and-goal from the 6? He could have easily picked up three or four yards. Instead, Orton threw beyond the end zone to Brandon Lloyd, setting up a predictable passing situation on third-and-goal.
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