It was a beautiful, sun soaked day in Denver at Sports Authority Field, and a perfect day for Broncos football as nearly 40,000 fans poured in to see what everyone hopes is the next Super Bowl champion in the NFL.
I was able to sit up in the press box for the very first time in my writing career, and sat in the corner of the end zone above where the play of the day happened. The Broncos’ offense was white hot, the scrimmage was scripted and swift, and the Broncos got to game week against the Seattle Seahawks unscathed.
Here are my observations.
1. Jacob Tamme made the play of the day
As the Broncos’ first-team offense shredded through the second-team defense, Peyton Manning led a really efficient, nearly perfect drive down the field for a touchdown, and the final play was gorgeous. Working at a fast tempo, Manning got a one-on-one matchup with Jacob Tamme and Omar Bolden on the outside. Bolden is having a really solid camp, but Tamme is still one of the most sly receivers on the team, and a guy that many thought would be cut.
Sorry, just had to LOL at that for a moment.
Tamme ran a post-corner route to the corner of the end zone, beating Bolden and the pass from Manning sailed over Tamme’s back shoulder as if the football gods dropped a pass from Mile High Heaven. The pass that Manning threw created a poster moment for Tamme, who reached his right hand up and snatched the ball out of the air as he simultaneously fell to the ground after getting both feet down.
It was, as I put it at the time, the ILLEST catch I’ve seen in quite some time. Tamme’s significant involvement in the offense with Julius Thomas out today (precaution for thigh bruise) indicates to me that the Broncos plan on keeping him around undoubtedly, despite what some have felt this offseason. The Broncos had to make the tough decision already to let go of Joel Dreessen, who was a phenomenal teammate and locker room presence. They are not about to let go of Tamme, who is not overpaid by any means and is a guy that has great chemistry with Peyton Manning already.
I hope that picture is painted very clearly at this point.
2. The defense (at least 1st team) wasn’t as bad as is being led on by some
The 2nd-team offense, led by Brock Osweiler, was very impressive and actually put up a touchdown against the Broncos’ #1 defense, there are a couple of things to consider. Namely, there were two instances in the 2nd-team offense’s drive that Osweiler might have been sacked on linebacker blitzes, which would have altered the drive completely.
First, Nate Irving busted through the middle of the line and was in the backfield before I could even figure out what player it actually was. C.J. Anderson picked up the blitz, and Osweiler scrambled away and the drive continued on as if Irving hadn’t even been there. Danny Trevathan also got into the backfield, forcing Osweiler to scramble away. I can’t remember which play it was, but Derek Wolfe also had a chance at a sack on Osweiler. I don’t recall if it was a result of being flushed out of the pocket by a linebacker blitz, but certainly the first-team defense had chances to make big plays on the drive.
3. Osweiler still got a touchdown
The fact remains, regardless of technicalities, Osweiler was able to move the ball down the field and score against the top defense of the Broncos. His athleticism was on display with a variety of blitzes coming his way, but Osweiler hung in there and made some really nice throws. His favorite target should come as a surprise to nobody. Former ASU receiver and current Broncos tight end convert Gerell Robinson was the focal point of the drive, catching a long pass from Osweiler early in the drive and capping it off with a shovel pass touchdown.
Robinson is a guy that should be getting a ton more hype. He is huge, has great hands, and compared to some linebackers, he’s a major mismatch in the passing game. I wrote about the Broncos’ ‘problem’ at the WR/TE position of having almost too much young talent and Robinson is part of that. It remains to be seen whether the Broncos will keep three or four tight ends, but with Julius Thomas and Virgil Green coming up on expiring contracts, keeping Robinson around this year seems like a wise choice, given his development in the system and excellent chemistry with Osweiler.
4. C.J. Anderson looked good; running back pecking order
C.J. Anderson had a nice 17-yard run against the starting defense, pushing the backups on offense into the red area and also had the aforementioned blitz pickup.
Right now, it looks like the Broncos’ running back order goes as follows: 1. Montee Ball; 2. Ronnie Hillman; 3. C.J. Anderson; 4. Juwan Thompson.
Anderson and Thompson are really good in pass protection.
5. Bennie Fowler showed up Aqib Talib
We’ve heard the rumors that Fowler has been working with the second team and developing chemistry with Brock Osweiler. Well, right before the 2nd-unit punched the ball into the end zone, Osweiler hit Fowler on the outside, where Fowler had to power his way through the Broncos’ #1 corner, Aqib Talib.
Fowler made Talib miss a tackle before Lerentee McCray cleaned up so that Fowler didn’t have a chance to score. This is a rookie receiver to monitor, one who’s been making strides in the Broncos’ offense as of late.
6. The practice was over quickly
The Broncos’ practice was very swift. It was a stretch period, individual position drills, special teams, 7-on-7, and the 11-on-11 pretty much. There wasn’t a lot to it. It was scripted, and when the script ran out of plays, the practice was over. It wasn’t even an hour and a half.
Because of that, there wasn’t much else to pick up on. The Broncos didn’t do one-on-one drills or anything like that, and the pace was so quick it was hard to see a lot the things I wanted to, like how Marvin Austin did at game speed, and what the D-line rotation looked like.
If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to recall what went down.