In one of the most exciting preseason/training camp stretches in years, I can finally breath a sigh of relief for many reasons.
Week one begins in ten days and the Broncos have their starting QB question answered. Kyle Orton is their man with the master plan that has made the Broncos first quarter preseason starts look promising. Last night against the Vikings, Orton went 5-8 for 56 yards. This, however, was the game that he played the least in order to rest up for Jacksonville in week 1. The backup QB role is a little blurry, but Tim Tebow appears to have the #2 position locked up after Brady Quinn was as steady as a 90-year old blind man on a balance beam throughout preseason.
Another reason to be excited about the completion of four long weeks of preseason games is to put a cap on the injury spell that the Broncos endured. To make matters worse, Ryan Harris and LenDale White left the field last night both with ankle/foot injuries. It seems that balancing the offensive line is impossible this season. Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady had been absent for all of training camp after suffering a knee injury playing basketball in the off season. He returned last night, so seeing Harris go down just puts another wrench into the Broncos protection scheme.
Nothing is more apparent than the Broncos struggles in the rushing/protection game, and it’s no surprise with the number of injuries sustained. Last night, the Broncos only had 83 rushing yards on 30 carries. The Broncos best rushing game came against the Steelers when they had 128 yards on 28 carries. That was their only win of the preseason as well. Offensive balance is everything.
Defensively, there have been shining moments and bright stars, but there’s also been a lot of inconsistency. If two linebackers can each produce half as much as Elvis Dumervil, then the Broncos have a chance at sustaining the same kind of pressure that Doom brought last season. A lot of pressure is now on Robert Ayers to produce in his second year in the league.
Champ Bailey, Andre Goodman, D.J. Williams, and Brian Dawkins were also limited in preseason action. All four men didn’t play last night, forcing back ups to pick up the veteran slack.
All in all, the weeks leading up to week 1 have been a Six Flag-like rollercoaster ride. I suppose the regular season was like that last year with a giant rise at the beginning of the season, and the ultimate drop down into another playoff-less year.
Now it’s time for the amusement park shenanigans to stop unless the team can get on the playoff carousel for many years to come.