The Denver Broncos left the Bay Area Thursday night with a 10-6 victory over the defending NFC Champion, San Francisco 49ers, in the first game of the 2013 preseason. At first glance, a win on the road against the NFC’s Super Bowl representative is beyond encouraging. However, it is only the first preseason game after all. Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, and the rest of the first team offense only played one series. Additionally, the offensive line was only a facsimile of what it will look like on September 5th and even more so than what it should look like in late October or early November when J.D. Walton is due back from injury. OK, so what significance do we take away from last night’s “contest”?
Pseudo Legal Disclaimer: This was only game one of the preseason. Any member of Broncos Country that gets too encouraged or discouraged by any performance does so at his/her own risk. Neither the Denver Broncos nor the NFL assume any liability for let-down, depression, or any other delusions of grandeur. There will be no discussion of Super Bowl talk based on any preseason performances without the express written consent of Bronco Nation and its affiliates.
Takeaways: If last night is a of harbinger of things to come in 2013, we Broncos fans have cause for optimism. Denver won the turnover battle last night 4-0 on 2 INTs and 2 fumbles; one of which recovered by newcomer Shaun Phillips and accounted for the game’s only TD. The Broncos defense flew around the field and showed encouraging ball-hawking capabilities.
Duke Ihenacho: By many accounts, Ihenacho was the best player on the field last night with 7 tackles (one in the backfield), 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass defended. The moment in no way seemed too big for the second year defensive back out of San Jose St.
Julius Thomas: The third year tight end went for 4 receptions for 35 yards. Reports are that his footwork near the sidelines looks more fluid than in the previous two years. Thomas’ area for improvement is in his inability to block at the NFL level.
C.J. Anderson: Anderson had an impressive line last night, toting the rock 15 times for 69 yards (4.6 YPC) and a long of 17 yards. He ran hard and broke several tackles. Even though he was playing against second and third team defenses, his effort and determination translates to playing against just about any defense.
Brock Osweiler: What does it matter? There is no plan B!!! In the legendary words of Lee Corso, “not so fast my friends!” We know that PFM (that’s Peyton “Freaking” Manning in case you didn’t know) won’t play forever. At best, he’ll be in Denver for two more years. That said, we need to prepare for life after Peyton. I know, I know…it’s something that we don’t really want to think about. However like any good chess player, you’re always thinking several moves ahead. Osweiler was 13/18 for 105 yds, 0 TD but more importantly, no INTs. According to legendary Broncos WR and color analyst for the Broncos radio broadcast on 850 KOA, Ed McCaffery, Brock looks much more comfortable in the pocket and his footwork is a lot better. McCaffery also indicated that the second year QB has been mimicking the work ethic of one of the hardest working QB to ever suit up. Osweiler has apparently even gone out of his way to beat Manning into the training facility at Dove Valley. So last night’s performance was not necessarily important for the next season or two (at least I certainly hope not) but is exciting for the long term future of the franchise.
D-Line and Linebackers: The members of the front seven who get stars for their performances last night are as follows: Nate Irving, Danny Trevathan, Shaun Phillips, Malik Jackson and Stewart Bradley all received significant playing time and didn’t disappoint. Demerits handed out to Terrance Knighton and Kevin Vickerson, both of whom missed a couple of tackles. Von Miller, who did not look like the Von Miller we have come to know and love had an issue with keeping contain on 49ers QB, Colin Kaepernick in the limited action he saw.
Miscellaneous: While not garnering attention on defense, David Bruton shone on special teams as he usually does. Trindon Holliday had 84 yards on 3 kick returns. However, he is sure to take some jabs from teammates for being tackled by punter, Colton Schmidt on his game long 44 yard, 4th quarter return. Raheem Moore recovered a 2nd quarter fumble and had one tackle. Most importantly, the one thing in this article that I don’t have to write about is injuries suffered last night.
So there you have it, preseason game number one is in the books.
Next Up: @Seattle 8:00 PM MST, Saturday August 17th.