The Broncos’ offense didn’t exactly strike fear into the San Francisco 49ers or anyone else for that matter on Thursday night.
Their first drive started mid-way through the first quarter with a Peyton Manning pass to Julius Thomas for a 6-yard pick up. Ronnie Hillman ran for 5 yards after that to get the first down. Everything was looking smooth. Then two incomplete passes and a run for one yard later, Britton Colquitt was called in to punt. The jig was up in less than four minutes.
That was the theme of the evening. Linebacker Shaun Phillips was the only one to score a touchdown after scooping up a fumble. The offense cheered him on from the sideline.
The Broncos used the “dress rehearsal” to practice their fourth-down conversions. They had C.J. Anderson run with it on fourth-and-one in the third quarter. No success.
“Obviously the fourth-and-1 we wish we would have gotten,” offensive coordinator Adam Gase said Saturday morning. “We probably would have had a chance for a touchdown there. We had some protection issues we had to clean up from the first half to the second half, and then we started running the ball more. I think that we were eating up some time. But that fourth-and-1 was big. We’ve got to convert that.”
With quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp up in the box, it was Gase’s first time calling plays from the field.
“We got the calls in quickly,” Gase said. “There was one time when I was a little quick on the trigger with Brock [Osweiler], and I’m saying the play and walking away, and he’s looking at me like, ‘I got nothing.’ And he called his own shot there. But that’s one thing that I need to get used to, is just the guy is setting the clock and I need to be a little bit patient on that.”
Protocol aside, Gase also spoke a lot about Osweiler and the team’s running backs.
A few highlights from Gase on Osweiler:
He did a great job of maintaining his poise and encouraging the guys up front. I probably got a little bit too aggressive on some calls trying to get some throws down the field, where I probably could have gone to some quick-gain and let some of those guys—take some pressure off of them.
He makes the right checks. That’s all we’re asking him to do—if I call a bad play, he gets us out of it and gets us to the right play. And he’s done a great job of that.With Brock, he’s as close to what you want as that starter, with the vocabulary. He doesn’t do as much because he knows we’ve got some rookies playing with that second group. He doesn’t want to go too much off the wagon.
“We’re bringing him along,” Gase said. “You’re coming from a younger guy that was an undrafted free agent; you can’t just throw him right in with what’s going on with the ones. It’s a process for him.”
“I always knew what I could do,” Anderson said. “I never doubted my talent or my ability. it’s not a surprise to me. But I am proud and I am glad I got the opportunity to do it. I just took advantage of my opportunities in front of me.”
Gase praised Hillman, Ball, and Moreno for their performances even though they combined for 41 yards on 14 carries (2.92 avg.).
If there’s one thing that we can walk away knowing about the Broncos offense, it’s that it’s constantly evolving. One preseason game doesn’t make or break it for this team this early on.